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Spin-offs score in football bonanza

Shops have been doing a roaring trade in national team shirts swissinfo.ch

As tens of thousands of fans urge on their teams in Portugal, they’ll also be bringing plenty of cheer to those selling official merchandise.

This content was published on June 11, 2004 - 17:16

Sales of scarves, team shirts, flags and football stickers are expected to go through the roof.

Around 3,000 Euro 2004-related items are being distributed under Uefa licence.

Classic items such as Panini stickers and albums first appeared in Swiss kiosks in mid-April, leading to frenetic exchanges in school playgrounds across Switzerland.

More than 20 million packets of Panini stickers have been distributed in Switzerland.

“Everyone has an album – even the girls,” said Nicolas, age ten.

The Euro 2004 Panini album carries the name of each of the participating countries in their national language, which created a problem for Switzerland where there are four.

The Swiss are down as “Helvetia”, typical of a country where compromise is a way of life.

To complete the album, collectors need to get hold of the full set of 334 stickers – hence the furious playground bartering.

Panini stickers

While Panini stickers are testament to a love of football in general, other tributes are aimed firmly at one team in particular: the national side.

This is the case with the song “Heart and Soul” by the Swiss-German band Plüsch, which hopes somewhat unrealistically to carry the team through to the final in Lisbon on July 4.

And watchmaker Carrera has produced a limited-edition timepiece designed by Swiss defender Murat Yakin.

Switzerland’s second-largest bank, Credit Suisse, the team’s main sponsor, has even launched a national campaign exhorting the country to go football crazy.

Posters of the “Red and Whites” assault passengers at Zurich airport and line the walls of the bank’s branches. Newspaper adverts and television commercials also urge fans to get behind the national team.

“Euro 2004 represents a unique opportunity for us,” said Adrian Schüpbach, director of sponsorship and event services at the bank.

“As the main sponsor of the national team, we have the chance to win friends and do something for the team, the supporters and the pride of the nation.”

Flying the flag

Credit Suisse has lined up a host of events including a mini-tournament for children, showing Swiss matches in stadiums and handing out hats, shirts and other items to help supporters fly the flag.

The bank is even printing red shirts with the first two lines of the national anthem – in all four languages – for those suffering from memory loss.

A giant shirt will also be hung at the entrance to the team’s hotel in Portugal, so fans can write a pledge of support.

“It will be there for the players to see each time they pass and remind them that a whole nation is behind them,” said Credit Suisse’s Schüpbach.

swissinfo, Doris Lucini

In brief

Sponsors and tour operators have organised competitions with match tickets as prizes.

Numerous shirts bearing the words “Hop Suisse” (Go Switzerland) have gone on sale.

Those wanting to mirror their heroes can pick up the official team shirt for Euro 2004 in specialist stores for SFr110 ($86).

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Key facts

The Swiss pick up SFr3.3 million ($2.6 million) a year from their sponsors.
Half of this sum comes from Credit Suisse.
Around 3,000 Euro 2004-related items are being distributed under Uefa licence.
More than 20 million packets of Panini stickers have been distributed in Switzerland.

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