Preparations for the 2008 European championship are back on course, according to co-hosts the Swiss football association.
The Swiss and European football governing body UEFA held a joint media conference, in which they appeared to have resolved their differences.
Rumours of a dispute between UEFA and the organizing committee emerged after the publication of a leaked letter from UEFA warning the Swiss and their Austrian co-hosts that they might lose the tournament if preparations were not speeded up.
“I think the information that UEFA’s executive committee was given (when they wrote the letter) did not correspond to the degree of preparation we already had,” Swiss football association president Ralph Zloczower told Reuters on Tuesday.
“What made them nervous was the news that Zurich’s Hardturm stadium would not be ready in time for the championships.
“But now we have a serious alternative project in the form of the city’s Letzigrund stadium, and we are really optimistic that it can be finished by UEFA’s deadline of summer 2007.”
Under the new proposal, 5,000 temporary seats will be added to the Letzigrund athletics stadium, bringing it up to the 30,000 all-seater capacity required by UEFA, and giving Switzerland the four international stadiums that it guaranteed during the bidding process.
“There was a certain substance to the criticisms made in the letter (from UEFA’s executive committee), but we’ve noted the real effort that’s been made in recent weeks,” said UEFA’s Euro 2008 project leader Juergen Mueller.
“We now believe that things are progressing well in Switzerland and Austria. In some organisational areas the project is even one or two years ahead of schedule.”
“I can’t anticipate how the executive committee will view the proposal,” Mueller added.
“But as an optimist I can say that UEFA is looking intensely at the idea and in December we’ll be able to discuss the reality rather than merely speculate.”