THE 2008 UEFA European Football Championship or as most people refer to it, Euro 2008, kicks off in Austria and Switzerland, from June 7 to 29 this year.
It is the second successful joint bid in the competition's history, following the UEFA Euro 2000 hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands.
The 2012 competition in Poland and Ukraine is scheduled to become the third jointly hosted tournament. (UEFA stands for Union des associations européennes de football, or Union of European Football Associations in English, the administrative and controlling body for European football).
A total of 16 teams will participate in the tournament. Austria and Switzerland will automatically qualify as hosts. The remaining 14 teams have been determined through qualifying matches which started in August 2006. Austria and Poland will be making their first appearance in the tournament. The winner of Euro 2008 will represent the UEFA at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
For this event Zürich will transform itself into one huge festival site. During the group matches, the main fan areas of Bürkliplatz, Quaibrücke, Bellevue and Limmatquai will become one large pedestrian zone filled with restaurants, bars, concerts, exhibitions and entertainment events. Football fans will be able to follow every second of the action on huge screens.
Guests to Zürich will not be stranded beside a stadium somewhere outside the city centre.
Instead, fans will be able to experience the festival spirit where the inhabitants of Zürich are normally living, for the action is right in the middle of the city, on the quayside of the River Limmat and along its banks, home to the historic guild houses.
This Fan Mile will also embrace the entire area at the end of Lake Zürich down the left and right sides of the Quaibrücke. It will continue on to the true nerve centre of Zürich, Bellevue Square, where a huge platform is to be erected for official public viewing of the matches. From there, the Fan Mile continues down the shorefront promenade, along the right-hand shoreline, until it merges with the extensive park area beside Lake Zürich, ideal for families and children.
The UEFA Fan Zone with the public viewing at Bellevue, Sechselنutenplatz and Utoquai contains three large projection screens. It has capacity for some 45,000 people including spectator seating for 2,900 people costing between $16 and $20 each. Apart from this, there is no entrance fee for the Fan Zone.
A cultural supporting programme will supply entertainment to ensure everyone stays in a party mood throughout EURO 2008. Top local bands will play before and after the football matches. There will also be a series of stages erected at intervals down the full length of the Fan Mile.
The Helmhaus, situated not far from Bellevue Square, will act as a central platform for the club scene. Some 20 concerts, performed by small bands and DJs from the innovative Zürich scene will entertain the crowd.
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