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Swiss media celebrate Euro 2008 success

Swiss newspapers are "over the moon"

(swissinfo.ch)

Switzerland's media have hailed the successful Austrian-Swiss bid to host the European football championships in 2008.

But Uefa's decision has come in for criticism, especially from the Scottish and Irish press.

Newspapers in Scotland and Ireland - which submitted their own joint bid - were left fuming by Uefa's decision to hand the world's third biggest sporting event to Austria and Switzerland.

The Glasgow "Herald" didn't mince its words, saying Scotland and Ireland could compete with all comers but had lost out "in the realpolitik of Uefa's labyrinthine voting structure".

Much of the comment was clearly a case of sour grapes, tinged with outright bitterness.

"Rather than staging Euro 2008 among the real fans of Scotland and Ireland, Uefa chose to hold the tournament in front of rows of business men in Austria and Switzerland," wrote the Irish Independent.

"Hansel and Gretel [sic] will be holding up prompt cards reading 'Cheer' and 'Sing'. Welcome to the Executive Box European Championships."

Swiss joy

In the Swiss press there was merely unrestrained joy at having clinched the football championships.

The front-page headline in the mass-market "Blick" said it all: "Yes! We have it".

The tabloid added that the win was a "balm for Swiss hearts" after a difficult year dogged by recession, depression, mismanagement and job losses.

"After the failure of Sion's bid to get the 2006 Winter Olympics, people had said we weren't capable of hosting a major sports event. But now we have shown the opposite is true."

The French-language "Le Temps" said Switzerland had shown it could put forward a successful bid for a major international sports event. But the paper added that the country couldn't have succeeded alone.

"Switzerland might not have won without the Austrians, who were making their third bid in 12 years. Uefa felt it owed Austria something for its perseverance."

Big prize

For the "Tribune de Genève", Switzerland has won the "big prize". The European championships represent "a unique chance to give Swiss and Austrian football a new start, with six years to come up with a new philosophy".

The "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" wrote that the decision would give Swiss football a "boost". But it warned that Switzerland's clubs needed to clean up their act following recent financial scandals.

The "Tages-Anzeiger" warned that Switzerland would have to prove it could be a good host to all the foreign fans who would be arriving for the championships.

"Tourists do not want to be exploited, even during football competitions," it said.

Celtic snub

The English papers were not happy with the outcome - predictably they sided with the disappointed Celts, whose bid failed. The "Sun" called the result a "snub".

The "Independent" said European football's governing body "crushed" the Scottish and Irish bid. "The Scottish FA chief, David Taylor, and his campaign team, looked as if they had seen a ghost."

For the "Times", Uefa's choice of Switzerland and Austria was a clear sign that football's governing body had decided to favour "west over east" by selecting two countries at the geographical heart of Europe.

"It seems that eastern Europe is not yet quite part of the continent's football fraternity," the paper commented.

Bids from Hungary, Greece and Turkey, and Bosnia and Croatia all fell by the wayside.

swissinfo, Scott Capper


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