Expatica news

Euro 2008 organisers left deflated as football symbol bursts

20 May 2008

GENEVA – With less than a month to go before Euro 2008 kicks off, one of the biggest footballs of the tournament has a major puncture.

A giant inflatable football, 15 metres in diameter, installed above the skies of Geneva at a cost of CHF 359,000 (EUR 221,000) had to be sent back to the manufacturers in Britain for major repairs on Tuesday after being damaged by wind.

The major tournament symbol was only installed at the end of April and could be seen several kilometres away bobbing 150 metres above the lake on top of the celebrated Jet d’Eau, the landmark fountain.

It is a blow to organisers of Euro 2008 in Geneva, one of the eight host cities of the June 7-29 tournament in Austria and Switzerland, who now have just three weeks to try to get it repaired.

“There have been some strong winds and unfortunately the football ripped,” Geneva city spokesman Laurent Forestier told DEutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Gusts up to 50 kilometres an hour were on Friday on Lake Geneva, damaging the helium-inflated football. Even though the football was brought down to the ground as a precaution, the winds were so strong it was still damaged.

The inflatable balloon had been specially conceived for the tournament by specialist architects and designers. It was attached by three giant cables to the jetty and a floating barge. Up to 40 tons of ballast was placed in the lake to help anchor it firmly.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure it will be in position when the tournament starts but we don’t know how long it will take. Unfortunately it was a prototype so is the only one in existence,” said Forestier.

[dpa / Expatica]