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EURO 2008 Opening Ceremony In Basel, Austria Switzerland

Swiss and Austrian roots and traditions were the focal point as UEFA EURO 2008™ got under way with a colourful opening ceremony ahead of the Switzerland-Czech Republic fixture at St. Jakob-Park in Basel. Very Interesting !

Memorable experience
The display, conceptually designed by artistic director Martin Arnaud and the Auditoire agency, combined the various elements that will make EURO a memorable experience – the heritage of the two host countries, sport and culture, and UEFA's values of fair play, respect and the joy of football. The 13-minute show featured around 1,000 performers of various nationalities, aged between 14 and 70. Among the images prevalent were Alpine horns and yodellers, the green summer pastures and white winter landscapes of both countries, and the splendour of Lake Constance, bordered by both host nations.

Inspired by modern pixel art, the movements on the field of play of 600 volunteers holding coloured cubes helped create a series of big pictures and landscapes. Most of the performers came from the STV-FSG (Swiss Gymnastic Federation) and the Badischer Tumen Bund (German Gymnastic Federation). The artists included stiltwalkers known as Gangart. The grand finale saw 16 children bearing 16 flags representing each of the EURO participating nations led into the stadium by Miss Switzerland 2007, Amanda Amman, who is half Swiss and half Czech. Thousands of balloons were then released amid a spectacular firework display, rousing the crowd to give a terrific welcome as the two teams took to the field. EURO had begun.

Royal guests
An impressive list of VIPs and dignitaries were also in attendance for opening night. HSH Prince Albert, Prince of Monaco, and HSH Prince Alois, the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein gave the event a royal imprimatur, while the European Union was represented at its highest level by José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission. Prominent dignitaries from the two competing nations included the President of the Swiss Confederation, Pascal Couchepin, and the Czech Republic's Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra. EURO co-hosts Austria were represented by President Heinz Fischer and Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer. Cabinet ministers from the two host countries were also present, together with the Prime Minister of the principality of Liechtenstein - which is situated between Austria and Switzerland – Otmar Hasler.

Footballing heroes
Football luminaries were also present in numbers – including two European football administrators who have brandished the EURO trophy in distinguished past playing careers – UEFA President Michel Platini (France, 1984) and Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany, 1972).

Visit EURO 2008 Official Site

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