Home / Sports / News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Austria gears up for Euro 2008 gala
Adjust font size:

Music soaring, bear sparkling, flags flying, giant screens showing. As Euro 2008 football championship is to kick off in two days to come, host Austria has geared up for the quadrennial football gala.

In downtown area of Austrian capital Vienna where an open match and the June 29 final are to stage, a massive fans' zone is taking forms.

The huge zone occupies the squares, streets and parks from the Vienna city hall to the old royal palace, and the workers are still busy installing the giant screens which are expected to show the matches live.

As tickets sold out months ago, organizers predicted that a total of four million fans from home and abroad - double the normal population of Vienna - to jam the capital city.

"It will accommodate over 70,000 fans here," said a worker, who was assembling the fence of the park.

According to UEFA, each of eight host cities is receiving 740, 000 euros and two LED display walls from UEFA for the official fan zones, Vienna as one of the main venues would get another more funding of 370,000 euros for the fan zones.

All 31 matches will be broadcast live in the fan zones or parks, which will be able to accommodate between 15,000 (Innsbruck) and 70, 000 (Vienna) people.

Apart from free entry, the organizers are to invite famous artists, orchestras and bands, pop stars to perform to generate a fun atmosphere.

In streets and lanes of Vienna, Austrian national flags are found to be installed in quite a lot of private cars.

UEFA said about 5 kilometers of flags have been produced to decorate the upper tiers of the eight stadiums for the championship.

In the airports, railways stations and motorways, national flags and flags of Euro 2008 are flying.

On security issue, Austrian police will be assisted by colleagues from 18 European countries to help check the borders and detect soccer hooligans.

In post offices of Austria, Euro 2008 toys are welcome and the staff have recently delayed on the shelf a full set of special stamps marking Euro 2008.

"It looks beautiful. As the tournament is approaching, more and more people buy it," said a staff in the post office near downtown Vienna.

Retail shoppers are delight as millions of visitors would boom the retail business.

T-shirts, rings and scarf with the signs of Euro 2008 are displayed in souvenir shops in Vienna. Shopper are confident in their business prospects. "Now people are just watching, but I'm sure of good business in days to come when matches are staged," a shop assistant told Xinhua.

According to local media, people have stockpiled three million pints of beer, 60 tons of cold cuts, 600,000 rolls, 600,000 links of sausage and enough mineral water and soft drinks to submerge Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadium, where the final will be staged on June 29. For local Austrian fans, they are worrying about the fate of the national team, who join the final stage of European football championship thanks to being the host.

Austria, world ranking 107, is widely believed to be the " weakest host team" in the history of the championship, but Austria's media and football fans are eager to create new history -- to win one match.

However, the media and fans are getting nervous - it is three days to the Euro kick-off, and no-one knows who will man Austria's goal.

Austrian coach Josef Hickersberger again delayed a decision on who will wear the much-coveted Number one shirt of the co-hosts, making Austria the only nation in the 16-country line-up which has not announced its goalkeeper.

According to local press, the much-awaited decision whether to nominate AC Siena's Alexander Manninger or Juergen Macho, who plays with AEK Athens, was postponed Wednesday by Hickersberger due to unspecified "disciplinary issues."

"The goalkeeper question is right now our smallest problem," Hickersberger told journalists at a press conference the team base camp in Stegersbach, Austria.

The final decision will be announced on Sunday immediately before Austria's first game against Croatia, Hickersberger added, keeping up the suspense.

(Xinhua News Agency June 6, 2008)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read

Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Euro sets up fan zones in eight host cities
- Ronaldo the jewel in crown of Group A
- Injury haunts Italy, Spain for Euro 2008 campaign
- Ballack's class should see Germany through
- Italy gear up for Euro Cup
Most Viewed >>
- Soccer: Euro 2008
- Portugal, Czech score wins on first day of Euro 2008
- Italian soccer team training session interrupted by beauties 
- Coach Petrovic says China plays a good game
- Space-age suits race into uncharted waters