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Swiss press salute "deserving champions"

No butts: the front pages are green and white and red all over

(swissinfo.ch)

Newspaper reaction to the World Cup final last night presented a picture of two halves: congratulating the Italians and psychoanalysing the disgraced Zinedine Zidane.

France eventually lost 5-3 to Italy on penalties, but not before their talismanic captain had been sent off for inexplicably headbutting Marco Materazzi with ten minutes to go.

Most front pages showed Italian players dancing in a shower of silver confetti as their captain, Fabio Cannavaro, held the Jules Rimet trophy aloft while fireworks lit up the sky above the Olympic stadium in Berlin.

Most also featured images of Zidane launching himself into Materazzi's chest – "like a bull", according to the tabloid Blick – and promptly staring, acceptingly, at a red card.

Headlines were sprinkled with Italian – one of Switzerland's three official languages: "Grandiosi Tifosi!", "Campione del Mondo" – and inside, hidden among the full-page adverts of sponsors congratulating the winners, was analysis and commentary. Keyword phrases used by all papers were "penalty thriller" "Zidane sensation" and "football euphoria".

Blick split its frontpage with the good and the bad from the weekend's sport: Roger Federer winning his fourth Wimbledon title and a close-up of Zidane nutting Materazzi - who had equalised for the Italians in the 19th minute after Zidane had put the French ahead with a seventh-minute penalty - with the caption "Zidane loses it!"

"What a thriller! What an ending!" began the paper's 15 pages of World Cup coverage, the first two focusing on "Zidane's brutal attack" being "France's end". Zidane, who was playing his last game for France, was described as "a man vandalising his own memorial".

Elsewhere, German coach Jürgen Klinsmann was "ludicrously proud" of his bronze medal.

Philosophy

Blick was one of the few papers to mention the Swiss team's efforts, in its "Reasons why the World Cup was great" list.

Selected reasons were "because Köbi's [Swiss coach Köbi Kuhn] boys left France, the future runners-up, in their wake; because red and white were always the dominant colours in the stadium during Swiss matches; and because defeats make you stronger".

The philosophy didn't stop there. The French-language daily Le Temps led with a full-page shot of hero/villain Materazzi pointing to the heavens after his impressive equaliser with the headline "Italy, the redemption".

In 1998 the Italians lost a quarter-final shootout to France, who went on to win their only championship.

In its editorial it explained, echoing the late Liverpool manager Bill Shankley, that "football isn't a game, it's a necessity" which "remains a formidable means of communication".

"The ball is an instrument," it continued, "which enables people to put to one side – if only for one month – more serious matters: corruption in Italy, the social security deficit in France, the war in the Ivory Coast."

The Zurich-based Tages-Anzeiger talked of a "World Cup of the senses" – "What we saw was a fantastic summer party, with many wonderful memories, powerful images and stories. What we didn't see however was great football".

"Italy in paradise" was the headline of the French-language Tribune de Genève. Below: "Zidane in hell".

Inside, notable points from the tournament were the "human warmth" of Germany, the fact that it was a "European World Cup" (all semi-finalists were European), the supremacy of defences and weaknesses in refereeing.

Host success

For the Neue Luzerner Zeitung there were "two winners, one loser" at the World Cup. The winners were the Italians, who showed "strength of nerves and calmness" in the most important moments – unlike the loser: Zidane, who showed once again why he will go down in football history as "the genius who couldn't control himself".

But despite his aberration, it was announced on Monday morning that journalists covering the tournament had awarded Zidane the Golden Ball for the tournament's best player.

The other winner for the paper was Germany – "on and off the pitch". The German team "triggered a wave of football euphoria, played refreshingly, unlike most other teams, and with 14 goals had the best attacking record".

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung broadsheet was the only paper not to have a football-related picture on its front-page – opting instead for the political demonstrations in Mexico – but on their sports pages they also split their coverage between Italian jubilation and Zidane's "inglorious end".

The good news for addicts however is that there's just over a month until the first qualification matches for Euro 2008 (co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria) and only 698 days until the tournament kicks off at the St Jakob stadium in Basel.

swissinfo, Thomas Stephens

In brief

Switzerland became the first team eliminated from a World Cup without conceding a goal. The Swiss lost 3-0 on penalties in the second-round against Ukraine.

The Switzerland-Ukraine penalty shootout was the lowest-scoring tiebreaker in World Cup history. Switzerland also became the first team not to convert a single penalty in a shootout.

It was Switzerland's eighth appearance in the history of the World Cup.

The Swiss reached the quarterfinal stage in 1934, 1938 and 1954 – the year they hosted the tournament.

Their last appearance before this year was in 1994 when they were knocked out in the round of 16 by Spain.

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Key facts

Italy has won the World Cup for the fourth time after victories in 1934, 1938 and 1982.
The average attendance of 52,500 is the second highest in World Cup history. Only the 1994 tournament in the United States drew larger crowds.
Brazil's Ronaldo scored his 15th World Cup goal to become the tournament's all-time leading scorer, topping Germany's Gerd Müller by one goal.
Germany is the only team to have been involved in four World Cup penalty shootouts, winning every one.
The 2,000th World Cup goal was scored by Sweden's Markus Allback during the 2-2 draw with England.
This was the first World Cup to finish without a hat-trick.
The Golden Boot for most goals went to Germany's Miroslav Klose who netted five.

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Swiss results at 2006 World Cup

Group stage:
France-Switzerland 0-0
Togo-Switzerland 0-2
Switzerland-South Korea 2-0

Round of 16:
Switzerland-Ukraine: 0-3 on penalties after extra time.

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