EURO2008: Up For Grabs Again?
After all the fuss of Scotland and Ireland not having the appropriate number of venues for their joint bid to act as hosts for EURO2008, it looks as is UEFA may have to re-consider who will act as hosts. Austria and Switzerland won the right to host the second largest international football competition despite competition from Greece-Turkey, Denmark-Finland-Norway-Sweden, Russia, Hungary, Croatia-Bosnia-Herzegovina and, of course, Scotland-Ireland. As the Swiss are involved in a legal struggle over replacing Zurich's current Hardturm Stadium in time which means that there will only be seven grounds capable of hosting EURO2008 games.
UEFA president Lennart Johansson and chief executive Lars Olsson have threatened to take the finals away in a letter to the two hosts which has been seen by the Swiss weekly newspaper SonntagsZeitung. They quoted passages from the letter including this key passage: "UEFA could decide defeated candidates be given the opportunity to contest the decision to award EURO2008 to Austria and Switzerland". The two countries are trying to salvage the situation. They already have new stadiums in Basel and Geneva being used, and a new stadium in Bern is due for completion next year. The latter is due to host the opening game with the troubled Hardturm Stadium was due to host the final. Zurich's mayor Elmar Ledergerber remains keen to have his city involved and has suggested renovating the Letzigrund athletics stadium, home of FC Zurich. However, the Swiss Football Federation has poured cold water on this option saying they do not consider the Letzigrund as a realistic venue. They now plan to work with Austria to stage the matches in seven instead of eight stadiums, four in Austria and three in Switzerland.
I wonder what the reaction will be in Hampden to these events in UEFA HQ.
Ger Harley (firstname.lastname@example.org)