Swiss fans sombre as opening game disappoints

Society Materials 8 June 2008 04:24 (UTC +04:00)

It was a party in Basle but not the one the Swiss had been hoping for as Czech fans celebrated after the opening match of Euro 2008.

The 1-0 defeat Saturday left Swiss fans worrying that the host team might not reach the next stage.

"We are very disappointed because we played better and because that should have been a penalty," said Stefan Sutter, a Swiss fan from Basle.

Another Swiss fan was even more adamant: "It was definitely a penalty. I rang my wife, who saw it on television. I think the ref will be on the front of the newspapers."

Swiss fans were unanimous that the referee had missed a penalty, failing to spot what they believed was a clear hand ball by a Czech player in the box with just 10 minutes to go.

Even the Czech fans seemed to agree.

"We thought the Swiss played better than us," said Jaroslav Stuhala from Prague as he left the stadium.

He was happy, though. It was his only ticket for the tournament, having arrived two hours before the game and preparing to leave the next morning.

"The referee made many bad decisions for both teams but a very bad decision for the Swiss in the end," Stuhala said.

"It was a good result but a bad game," said Vladimir Bezdek. "The Swiss played better than us."

Lukes Radim, another Czech, was cautious looking ahead. "We are celebrating," he said, "but if we play like that in the next game we will lose."

The atmosphere post-match in the city was distinctly gloomy compared to just a couple of hours earlier, when cries of "Hop Hop Schwiiz" ("Go go Switzerland") had filled the air. On the tram to the stadium the whole car had been rocked as Czech fans shouted "If you're Czech, jump, jump, jump," and duly responded there and on the terraces.

For the Swiss, having lost the match and their captain Alex Frei to a knee injury, the mood was as grey as the skies that had threatened rain all day over Basle, dpa reported.