Tongue in Cheek: Recognition a neutral nation seeks: to have the best referees

Steve Tongue's Euro Diary
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The Independent Online

There has been outrage in Switzerland over Uefa's decision that Roberto Rosetti of Italy will referee today's final, while the co-hosts' Massimo Busacca was given a mere semi. Not, admittedly, the most tactful appointment, given that it was Rosetti who missed a blatant handling offence by the Czech Republic's Tomas Ujfalusi that should have given the Swiss a late penalty in their 1-0 defeat. The more paranoid critics have even referred back to Euro 2004, claiming that their man Urs Meier was set to take charge of the final until a virulent campaign against him was launched by the English media when he ruled out a late winning goal by Sol Campbell in the quarter-final against Portugal, because of an alleged foul by John Terry.

Swiss mess up Turkey shoot

It's probably just as well that the Euro caravan rolled across the border into Austria on Thursday, for the Swiss have not taken their setbacks well. One resident of the northern canton of Aargau, fed up with the din caused by Turks celebrating victory over Croatia in the quarter-final, took a gun into the street and fired at one of the honking cars. Rather like the Swiss strikers, he missed.

Business goes down the pan

By contrast, the tradesmen in Basel were sorry to see the back of the extraordinary Dutch supporters, whose numbers for last weekend's quarter-final were said to have reached 165,000. The orange-clad ones consumed 500,000 litres of beer and 100,000 litres of water. There are no statistics available for the portable loos.

Tickets please? No thanks

What the good folk of Basel will not miss are the ticket touts, almost exclusively English, who swarmed around the main railway station doing what they quaintly called "a bit of buying and selling". Business, vibrant for the opening game featuring the co-hosts, appeared to have slackened off after the arrival of Germany, whose followers, one dealer reported with disgust, "want tickets but don't want to pay the money". Another reason why fanzones are such a welcome innovation.

Army earning their stripes

What the 1990 World Cup did for Luciano Pavarotti, this tournament may yet do for the White Stripes, the Detroit band whose 'Seven Nation Army' is played as teams take the field and has been adopted as a chant by supporters of almost every country here. Fans of Club Bruges are credited with having taken it up five years ago, and AS Roma copied them after playing a Uefa Cup game in Belgium, resulting in Italy being serenaded with it on the streets of Rome after winning the last World Cup. The opening riff is regularly included in polls of the greatest of all time and Uefa's organising committee say that royalties are being paid to the band. Fortunately, crowd noise tends to drown out the macho fighting lyrics, which were what appealed to Bruges fans in the first place.

Fence-sitters are penalised

When is the best time for illegal immigrants to steal across the border? When guards are distracted by a penalty shoot-out. Twenty Moroccans hoping to penetrate the 6ft fence around the Spanish enclave of Melilla waited for the climax of the group game against Italy before making their move. They were still apprehended.

In a land without seaside...

And finally... some good news at last for Switzerland, from the European Beach Football Championship. They qualified for the Euro 2009 finals by kicking sand in the faces of their Italian hosts with a dramatic 7-6 victory in extra-time. Presumably completed before the tide came in.

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