Fallen hosts Swizerland and Austria lose interest in party
A group of smiling youngsters sporting Austria shirts, scarves and red and white face paint sauntered through the Vienna fan zone. So does football fever live on in Austria despite the nation's Euro 2008 exit?
"We're here filming a television show," said one of the youngsters, pointing towards a camera and film crew positioned by the trees. Austria and Switzerland have joined the Belgium team of 2000 as the only European Championship hosts not to qualify from the group stage.
The flags have largely disappeared from the cars, the bargain-bins in supermarkets selling football memorabilia have been whisked away and interest is starting to wane. "I will watch the final on television but I think the Vienna fan zone is going to be a very quiet place," said 24-year-old student Stephan Kohaut. "You might find some Austrians start to support a team that is doing well but there is not one team we would naturally sway towards now, certainly not Germany."
In Basle, organisers are preparing for an invasion of Dutch supporters for Saturday's quarter-final and hordes of Germans are expected to flock across the border for tonight's match. The atmosphere in Switzerland will also be lifted by large Italian, Portuguese and Turkish communities who have been out in force since the start of the tournament.
Basle resident Adrian Knup, enjoying a drink by the river in the city centre yesterday, said that while a lot of Swiss were upset their team failed to progress they were determined to be good hosts. "The disappointment is palpable but I think the fan zones will be well attended," he said. Fan zones in both countries have struggled on days when there is no match in the host cities. About 11,500 people went to the Vienna fan zone on Tuesday to watch France play Italy, well below its 70,000 capacity.