Austria and Switzerland hail success of Euro 2008 "fairy story"

Euro 2008 has been a fairy-tale success story, the Swiss and Austria co-hosts said ahead of Sunday's final between Germany and Spain in Vienna, the dpa reported.

Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, meanwhile, praised the tournament as "a stroke of luck" for Austria and Switzerland.

"It has become a festival of European integration. Two neighbours have now become friends," he said.

Friedrich Stickler, head of the Austrian football federation, said cooperation between the two hosts in organizing Euro 2008 had been "a dream", with the tournament itself a success on and off the pitch.

"We had more than four million people in the fan zones and around 10,000 registered public viewing sites right across Europe," he said

"You can say without doubt that this Euro 2008 was a peaceful mass movement without incident, with football the centre of attention."

"We have seen some great matches in a wonderful atmosphere. We have had a bit of a summer fairy story in Austria and Switzerland."

The tournament has attracted high television viewing figures with the market share of ratings soaring to above 80 per cent for some of the matches from June 7 to June 29, Stickler said.

It has also passed off without major incident or acts of hooliganism. However authorities are stepping up security for Sunday's final at Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna.

Austria's air force will be on alert, and about 400 counter-terrorism specialists are being deployed.

Dignitaries expected for the game include King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, Spains Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German president, Horst Koehler. dpa bw jb

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