What are the expectations for the team?
Enormous and unrealistic. The recent friendly results have started to calm down expectant fans. But most people in Switzerland know next to nothing about football so they still think we are a great team and can win it.

Are there any players who have appeared in TV commercials?
Most of the players are involved in ads for Carlsberg, one of the team’s main sponsors, and for Swiss Federal Railways, where such players as Ludovic Magnin and Philippe Senderos expound the virtues of travelling by train. In the case of Senderos, you can just imagine him sitting in one, mouth agape, listening to his iPod. Alexander Frei, who is the figurehead of Swiss football, has done ads for Nike and Familia, a brand of muesli. He’s also promoted JVC and Mazda and whenever a Swiss version of a football game comes out, he’ll be on the box here. Tranquillo Barnetta does adverts for a children charity run by McDonald’s and VW. Coach Köbi Kuhn is fronting a campaign for T-shirts sold at Denner, a Swiss supermarket chain.

Is the coach popular?

Not any more, especially now that Ottmar Hitzfeld is joining after Euro 2008. The main tabloid, Blick, even suggested getting rid of Kuhn before the tournament.

Which players are good interviewees and who are the worst?
Senderos and Johan Djourou are very affable and make themselves readily available for interviews with local papers. Frei has a reputation for speaking honestly though he is also said to hold some fairly right-wing opinions.

Are then any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?

Swiss players are generally very ordinary. Some quite enjoy going for a hike in the mountains or prefer to just stroll around town like every other Swiss citizen. However, Daniel Gygax is an amateur DJ and has been known to miss training sessions at Metz due to his commitments to nightlife.

What will the media coverage be like?

Coverage quality on TV depends very much on where you are in the country: populist and positive in the German part; analytic and uncomplacent in the Italian part; amateurish and shambolic in the French part. The coverage as a whole is getting quite strident. The two best known ex-players working as pundits the monosyllabic are Stéphane Chapuisat on the Swiss-French TV channel, who makes Alan Shearer sound like Stephen Fry, and Kubilay Turkyilmaz on the Swiss-Italian channel, who is grumpy but interesting and critical.

Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?

Probably. Some are hoping for one on a Swiss theme such as William Tell or Swiss wrestling, which involves grabbing your opponent by his pants and throwing him around.

Do Swiss fans have any favourite chants or songs?
There are quite a lot of songs but in several languages, so those that are sung by everybody are rather simple. The Schweizer Nati (Swiss Nation) chant was quite spectacular in 2006, but it did worry the hosts as Swiss Germans pronounce “Nati” as in “Nazi”.

Yuri Goffinet
Thanks to Cartonrouge.ch

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