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Swiss Show The World How To Run A Football Tournament

swiss-flag.jpgMiami is not known for good road signage. I’ve lived near the city for 24 years and I still get confused when I go downtown looking for the I-95 on-ramp. It’s not that the signage is poor. In some places, it simply doesn’t even exist.In Switzerland, it’s an entirely different story. From the moment I arrived in Zurich this past Sunday morning up until the time I left on Tuesday, my entire Euro 2008 experience was, as one French fan who saw me wearing a Dutch shirt after the win against Italy described, superb.Everything was so well organized. At the airport, there was an information bureau for Euro 2008 with volunteers answering questions. The airport was quiet when I arrived on Sunday morning, so five people worked together to answer my one question. Embarrassingly, they couldn’t answer it. The question was whether cameras were allowed in the stadium. They didn’t know and couldn’t find the answer. I later found out that the answer was yes, they were allowed but only for non-business purposes.What impressed me the most about Switzerland was their train service. Everything ran perfectly on time. After the Holland match, there was one incident at a train station which made me smile. One of the fans was standing in the doorway which prevented the electronic doors from closing. He was playing a cat and mouse game, and he was winning.A couple of minutes later, obviously incensed by the fact that the train was delayed and – god forbid – the service was off schedule, I saw a Swiss train employee sprint down the platform and verbally abuse the fan inside the doorway. It was the first and only time during my entire trip where I saw a Swiss person lose their cool.I don’t know whose idea it was, but there was one policy that I’m still completely stunned by its brilliance. Anyone holding a match ticket was allowed free transportation within Switzerland (and presumably Austria) on any train, tram or bus on the day of the match and up to Noon the following day.All you had to do was to walk on to any train, tram or bus and you were guaranteed free transportation. No ticket needed. This made traveling to and from matches a breeze. Imagine having to queue with several thousand fans to get a ticket to go on a train and how much chaos that would have created, just as one example.By allowing the free transportation, it made the experience easier for the football fan, ensured that trains arrived and departed on time, encouraged supporters to travel more freely around the country (and to spend more money in other cities because they saved money by not having to buy the transportation tickets in the first place).Everything else was also run smoothly. After the Fan Zones ended each night, the areas and streets nearby were littered with trash from the fans. But by nine the next morning, the streets were immaculate after the cleaning crews had cleaned everything up in the early hours of the morning.Throughout Bern and Zurich, there were plenty of police and security presence as well as helpful Euro 2008 volunteers wearing sky blue shirts to help answer questions.All of the Swiss people I met too were polite and helpful. Life in Switzerland seems so laid back in comparison to the United States. While Switzerland is filled with ancient buildings, the newer ones all seem very modern (the Zurich airport is one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever visited).Maybe all that money that the United States spends on weapons and the military could be better invested in its own country instead by fixing the infrastructure such as roads, bridges and signage? The Swiss system obviously seems to be working much better

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  1. Leonard Okoth

    February 1, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Sometimesyou must be similar in character will have suffering enough from the stern still ploughing and foaming through the press, take things calmly. I liked reading this. I bookmark your blog. Keep up the good work. I am sure you will get some thumbs up 🙂 & give your valuable feedback on

  2. Pingback: EuroDose: June 12th ‘08 - Euro 2008

  3. TT

    June 12, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Here they apologise over the PA when the trains arrive dead ON TIME as is normal. Seriously!

    Omatase shimashita.

  4. Kartik

    June 12, 2008 at 9:44 am

    The train leaving Wembley Central to Paddington on the Bakerloo line was free on the day of US-England. However from Paddington anywhere beyond they began charging, and the buses going to Wembley were actually pulled out of service forcing me to walk about a mile or two from Harrow Road to the stadium.

  5. The Gaffer

    June 12, 2008 at 9:40 am


    Free train trips from city to city, yes. I love the Swiss!

    The Gaffer

  6. LemmusLemmus

    June 12, 2008 at 9:29 am

    As for free public transportation, most (all?) Bundesliga clubs have something similar: Free intra- (though not inter-) city transportation if you own a ticket. My understanding is that the clubs pay the local public transport organizations money for that, so that will be priced into the tickets. (I would guess UEFA had to do something similar.) Besides the money, the benefit to the transport organizations is that the bus driver doesn’t have to sell 50 fans a ticket before he can restart the journey, which would disrupt schedules.

  7. Dignan

    June 12, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Are you saying that train rides between cities was also free? I can see having free transit for subways and light rail but between cities is another thing. If that is true it is incredible!

  8. Jeff Hash

    June 12, 2008 at 8:54 am


    I remember during the Atlanta 96 Olympics that travelling on MARTA (Atlanta’s transit system) was free with a game day ticket. Its done as a way to cut back on road congestion and keep people moving, since few roads anywhere can handle that number of moving traffic at any time. I’d assume tickets were priced in a way that it took this move into account.

  9. Kartik

    June 12, 2008 at 8:35 am

    RE Infrastructure in the US:

    Yes it is crumbling. Even in my recent travels to India I found the main roads despite the pollution and filth to be actually smoother than many roads in the US. Bridges are near collapse in the US. Take the Pulaski Skyway in Newark or the Bay Bridge in SF/Oakland which are both undergoing long overdue renovations.

    The airports here are similarly poor in big cities. But I would qualify your statement based on a few things:

    1- Infrastructure repair and development is not evenly distributed nationally largely because of pork projects and the way Congress works. I’ve seen this first hand. I’m sure the roads, bridges and airports in West Virginia and Alaska are all aye-okay.

    2- Many of our airports are confined by the cities they are in. Unlike European cities which were either rebuilt in large part after WWII or we simply not that big like Zurich, our major cities had their airports right in residential neighborhoods. Boston’s Logan, Chicago’s Midway, NY Laguardia, Washington National, Houston Hobby and even the massive LAX itself are confined by the cities around them. We didn’t have the luxury or perhaps the foresight to build a whole new airport on the periphery of the city as the French did with DeGaulle in Paris or even as the French did with LaDefense outside of Paris which has taken critical business outside the city centre and allowed the historic portions of paris to be unaffected by rapid business growth.

    3- The US has to spend on military, although I would agree the current levels are far too much. It’s our obligations to keep the world a safer place, and to project the ideals which America has always stood for and works to promote. Now has the current administration misused American soft and hard power? Of course they have but soon a better day will come where the projection of American power and ideals is done in a more responsible manner. By spending on the military we allowed Western Europe to redevelop itself after WWII. In the near future American ideals will once again shine a light on the world, as they did in the not so distant past. A simply change of administrations at 1600 Penn Ave. will help accomplish that!

  10. damir

    June 12, 2008 at 8:30 am

    sounds like fun.
    but how do they make a profit from the fans by not charging the transportation, that’s one of the main money things…?
    But it is the Swiss and their currency is the strongest in the world, so i guess they don’t need the money.
    I wonder if it’s the same in Austria?
    The USA wouldn’t be able to duplicate what the Swiss do because of the geographical size of the countries.

  11. Hudsonland

    June 12, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Never trust a country where the trains run on time. I heard somewhere that the Swiss (or Austrians) apologise over the PA if the train is a couple of minutes late.

    Love the free transport for match-ticket holders idea.

    “Maybe all that money that the United States spends on weapons and the military could be better invested in its own country instead by fixing the infrastructure such as roads, bridges and signage?”

    Or the US could use that military to invade Switzerland and kidnap their urban planners. I understand the Swiss have weapons of mass destruction, you know.

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