By Mark Chaplin
Work is progressing apace on preparations for UEFA EURO 2008™ in Austria and Switzerland. The host countries and UEFA are currently putting the various structures in place for the final round in three years' time, and uefa.com took the opportunity to ask a few questions to the Swiss EURO 2008™ tournament director Christian Mutschler.
uefa.com: Could you explain what your duties as a tournament director for EURO 2008™ involve?
Christian Mutschler: The duty of a tournament director is, together with his team, to build a platform in the host country. The most important aspect is the infrastructure and, of course, the stadiums are very important. We also have to build up the public services: transport, traffic, security, hotel services. The job of a tournament director is to be the link between the tournament organisation and the 'house' which is needed to organise the party.
uefa.com: What are your priorities at the moment in preparing for the tournament
CM: Within the Euro 2008 SA company, we are working full speed on the host city charters. In addition, we have the qualifying competition draw, which will take place in Switzerland at the beginning of next year.
uefa.com: How do you see the co-operation between the two countries and UEFA?
CM: The two football associations have a long tradition and, at the time of bidding, already showed and proved that they are involved in a real partnership. Co-operation with UEFA is excellent. I have to say that it is very enjoyable work.
uefa.com: To 'outsiders', the Swiss and Austrians seem to be very alike. Are the mentalities of the two peoples very close?
CM: I think the two nationalities and countries each have their specificities, and this gives us a richness. On the other hand, both countries are known for their tourist services, hospitality and strong and reliable economies. These are certainly the elements that mark both countries.
uefa.com: UEFA EURO 2004™ in Portugal was a football festival in the sun. What kind of tournament can we expect in Switzerland and Austria?
CM: I think the focal point for both countries is the hospitality and services, transport, an infrastructure that is fantastically equipped, as well as experience in international events in Austria and Switzerland, which plays host to a number of international organisations. We will not always have 32 degree average temperatures in the two countries, but the mountains store certain warmth - and I am convinced we will be able to transmit this.
uefa.com: There are also many commercial and economic possibilities...
I think it is a one-off chance for the two countries to host this huge event. Certainly, it will have an economic effect but, on the other hand, it will also have an invaluable effect in terms of image, especially for Switzerland. EURO 2008™ gives it the possibility to provide a platform for international recognition.
uefa.com: What are the next steps for you in the coming months?
CM: On 27 January 2006, we will have the qualifying-group draw in Montreux, Switzerland. We hope we will successfully complete the negotiations with the host cities. We will then start working full speed on the volunteer workers' project and that is very important. It is a fantastic opportunity for the local population to participate in such an event.
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