Swiss Euro 2008 bid handed cash boost
The joint Swiss-Austrian bid for the 2008 European football championships has received financial backing from parliament.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted for a credit worth SFr3.5 million ($2.1 million) to cover infrastructure and security costs at four football stadiums in Switzerland. The Senate still has to approve the financial package.
Part of the money has been earmarked for a national sports awareness campaign and for services provided by the armed forces, mainly to back up police and for transport.
During the debate, speakers said Switzerland's image abroad, its economy, the tourism industry would all benefit if it was chosen to host the event with neighbouring Austria in 2008.
The minister for sport, Samuel Schmid, said Euro 2008 would allow Switzerland to write a new chapter of its sporting history. Switzerland staged the football world championships in 1954.
Schmid added that the joint Swiss-Austrian bid faced strong competition from other candidates, but insisted that both countries had the know-how and capacity to organise a European tournament.
The House of Representatives also came out in favour of a granting a deficit guarantee of SFr4 million for Euro 2008. The government in February rejected such a guarantee.
The overall cost of the event is estimated at SFr120 million. The Austrian government has said it will contribute SFr60 million.
Bids handed in
The joint bid was handed in to European football's governing body, Uefa, in Nyon on Wednesday. The bid documents - in a case shaped like a football - were handed over by the captain of Switzerland's Under-17 football team.
Swiss and Austrian delegates highlighted the fact that both countries already boasted a series of brand new stadiums as venues for the tournament.
Seven other candidates, mostly joint bids, are also in the running to host the championships. Uefa is expected to announce its decision in December.
by Urs Geiser with agencies
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