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That's football say UEFA after co-hosts' early exit
FEUSISBERG, Switzerland |
FEUSISBERG, Switzerland (Reuters) - Euro 2008 organisers insisted on Thursday that the early exit of tournament co-hosts Switzerland would not have a major impact on the event.
Switzerland were knocked out on Wednesday, just five days into the June 7-29 competition, becoming only the second host team ever to go out during the group stages after Belgium in 2000.
Fellow hosts Austria could join them later on Thursday when they play a potentially decisive Group B match against Poland. They lost their opening game 1-0 to Croatia, also in Vienna.
"It is nice if the hosts go all the way, but this is the uncertainty of sport, the way football can go," UEFA spokesman William Gaillard told a media briefing.
"It is not always a happy ending. This is not Hollywood. We don't have any worries."
Gaillard said he was sure that the disappointed local fans would quickly adopt other countries to support, and that the two countries' sizable immigrant communities should also be kept in mind.
"We have seen for example in Geneva how the large Portuguese population in the region helped transform the Geneva stadium into the Dragao Stadium (in Porto) or the Luz (in Lisbon).
"There are also so many fans who have made the trip, there are tens of thousands of Swedes, huge orange crowds of Dutch supporters in Berne and more fans from Italy, France and Germany are very close."
The Swiss authorities were also quick to insist that they could mount a successful event even without a team of their own to support.
"Even if we were not able to progress we still have the possibility to be European champions in hosting an event," Swiss sports minister Samuel Schmid said in a statement.
"Despite the defeat the football party continues."
Switzerland team coach Koebi Kuhn said he also expected the country's fans to stay interested in the tournament.
"We're a very multi-cultural country," said Kuhn whose own squad contains many with joint nationality.
"And I don't think the Swiss fans will want to keep their heads down. They will party along with the other fans. They have deserved this football party and life goes on."
(Editing by Jon Bramley)
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