Controversy as Switzerland make U-turn in Euro 2025 bid

The trophy is displayed ahead of the draw for the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 final tournament
The trophy is displayed ahead of the draw for the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 final tournament in Manchester on October 28, 2021. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

The Switzerland Federal Government made a major U-turn as the hosting nation of Euro 2025. Successful on the premise that they would invest 15 million Francs, they have now promised only four million.

During times of such growth for women’s football, this decision stands against the positive developments occurring at both national and international levels. This striking turnaround puts into question whether the tournament and women’s game are in jeopardy, especially for the hosts.

A huge step in the wrong direction

Every step taken to grow the women’s game is undermined by the actions of the Swiss government. As the Euro 2025 host nation, Switzerland should benefit from the global publicity and increasing popularity of the sport in the upcoming months.

The world-class players and growing number of fans should be the number one priority. However, a decline in investment prevents women’s football from taking centre stage. Instead, this financial controversy and lack of vital funding will be the talk of the tournament.

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Alisha Lehmann, Swiss international and Aston Villa player, will be the face of the Euros. This opportunity is her chance to shine, alongside her international teammates. Yet, the initial anticipation of sold-out stadiums and record-breaking numbers of fans is clouded by the government’s actions.

Without the pledged financial support, the atmosphere of the tournament is uncertain. It should, however, be the case that players look forward to performing in their home nation. It is vital that a solution to this economic turnaround is found. A lack of investment leads to a lack of publicity.

Opportunities for aspiring young footballers to feel part of the event are also threatened. Fans are the heart of the women’s game, so something must be done to maintain the positive impact it will have on the sport. 

Comparison with the Men’s Euros (2008)

In 2008, Switzerland held the men’s Euros. Investing 82 million Francs in the tournament, this event was a success and globally recognised. The bid for the women’s event was previously just 18 percent of the investment. It has now been reduced to five percent.

It therefore seems the government is not on the same page as many other nations, determined to push the growth and strive for positive changes concerning gender inequalities. If anything, this situation is broadening the gender gap. 

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Does this jeopardise the future of Women’s Football in Switzerland?

Looking back to the 2022 Euros, the Lionesses made history. Not only did the Lionesses win in their home nation, but they also sparked a huge growth in the number of possibilities available for young girls in football. With the correct approach and investment, there is potential for similar improvements in Switzerland. They should be taking advantage of their opportunities as the hosting nation. However, the governmental U-turn minimises these positive developments.  

Social Democratic Party (SP) National Councillor Matthias Aebischer, and President of the Parliamentary Sports Group, believes this change of heart sends the wrong message to young girls wanting to get involved in the sport. With a decline in investment comes a decline in popularity and interest. After the disappointing turnaround in investment, the development of the women’s game is at risk.

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Does this funding turnaround call for UEFA to take action?

With the Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) being runners-up in the contest to host the tournament, it’s debatable whether this decline in investment still makes Switzerland a worthy host. According to the Swiss Football Association, they hold high prospects for this to be Europe’s largest women’s sporting event to date.

The tournament will last 26 days and cover eight host cities, with a daily average spend of only 20,000 francs. This is required for multiple purposes: policing, entertainment, infrastructure, employment, etc. Even though 720,000 tickets are estimated to be on sale, there is nowhere near enough money to make this profitable. Fulfilling UEFA’s expectations of this quadrennial event will be extremely difficult.  

With such controversy in the press, recent reports in Switzerland even suggest it will become a ‘grudge tournament’ instead of a sporting success. The government’s actions present the disparity in the sport as indisputable. Surely, this is not the right message to surround such a renowned event.

Therefore, it is put into question whether UEFA will allow Switzerland to host Euro 2025 anyway. Will UEFA hold them to their original bid, or will they lose this opportunity due to the disappointing lack of promised funding?

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