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Dual Swiss/Austrian Euro 2008 visa agreed

Should Turkey play in Switzerland, their fans need a visa issued in Austria Keystone

Fans, players and other staff of teams needing a visa to take part in the Euro 2008 football tournament will receive one document for both Switzerland and Austria.

The co-hosts have agreed that Austria will issue special Schengen visas for the event on behalf of both countries as Switzerland will by then not yet be part of the borderless travel zone.

The visas would apply to up to ten countries currently attempting to qualify for the final stages of the tournament. The other countries do not need visas as they are European Union or European Free Trade Association member states or have special arrangements with Switzerland.

Switzerland does not plan to implement its membership of the Schengen area until the autumn of 2008, so the June Euro 2008 will come too soon for some fans to travel freely without a special visa.

Austria would pass on any visas it issues to the Swiss authorities for final approval before they are released.

Finer details

The Swiss parliament will have to approve the scheme once some finer details, such as the duration of the visas, have been thrashed out.

Once in place, a fan from Turkey – for example – would send his application to travel to Switzerland for the tournament to the Austrian authorities.

Estimating demand for these visas is difficult until it is known which teams have qualified for the tournament in November.

Nearly 600,000 people from 142 countries have so far submitted applications for over a million tickets issued by Uefa, the governing body of European football.

Dominique Boillat from the Federal Migration Office estimates that Switzerland could receive up to 10,000 applications for the special visas via Austria.

No great burden

“We issue some 500,000 visas each year so this would not present much more work for us,” he told swissinfo.

“This is not such a complicated arrangement for us, the solution is rather simple.”

Switzerland will host 15 of the 31 matches that will take place during the tournament next year. The opening match will take place in Basel on June 7.

swissinfo with agencies

The qualifying phase of the tournament began in autumn 2006 and will end on November 21, 2007. Co-hosts Austria and Switzerland qualify automatically.

The winners and runners-up in the seven qualifying groups – 16 teams – will go through to the Euro 2008 final round. A draw will take place in Lucerne on December 2, 2007 to decide the composition of the groups for the finals.

15 of the 31 Euro 2008 matches will be played in Switzerland and 16 in Austria. Switzerland will play the opening match of the tournament at Basel’s St Jakob’s Park on June 7, 2008. The final will be in Vienna on June 29.

Swiss stadiums: Zurich – Letzigrund (30,000 seats); Basel – St Jakob’s Park (40,000); Bern – Stade de Suisse (30,000); Geneva – Stade de Genève (30,000 seats).

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR