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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Fans power Euro 2008 bid
Berti Vogts and Jack McConnell
Berti Vogts and Jack McConnell launch the logo
Fan power can bring the Euro 2008 football championships to Scotland, according to the country's first minister.

Jack McConnell has travelled to Sweden to promote the country's joint bid to host the tournament with Ireland.

Speaking at the launch of the logo for the Scotland/Ireland bid, he said doubts about the campaign were "nonsense".

Euro 2008 bid logo
Stadia has been the key issue in the bid
Mr McConnell said the bid had "great things" in its favour, including the stadia involved and Scotland's record on organising football tournaments.

And he said: "We have got the best fans, in Scotland and Ireland, anywhere in the world.

"We are already going to be missed at the World Cup, but the Scottish fans are our trump card.

"We believe people can enjoy the tournament in Scotland in a way they couldn't anywhere else in Europe.

"These and other facts will make a real difference when the bid is decided later this year."

Final decision

Mr McConnell was hoping to win support from other European football nations on Wednesday at governing body Uefa's congress in Stockholm.

Under the joint bid, Ireland will provide two of the eight stadia required to host the tournament.

The final decision on who will host the tournament is due to be made in December by Uefa's executive committee.

I know with our fantastic fans and the grounds we can offer, the bid will be extremely strong.

Bertie Vogts
Scotland manager
The congress is the first chance for the seven bidders to lobby Uefa delegates on the merits of their stadia and facilities.

Mr McConnell will discuss hospitality and the quality of Scottish stadiums during his visit to Sweden.

But Ireland's plans for a new national stadium face strong opposition and Croke Park has been ruled out by its owners the Gaelic Athletic Association - casting doubt over Dublin's ability to deliver suitable venues.

Plans for a new national stadium sparked a row between Ireland's two governing parties.

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern wants the project - dubbed Bertie's Bowl - to go ahead but his junior coalition partners are opposed to the expense.

After last-minute talks in Dublin the two parties have agreed that a steering group will now look at all the options over the next few months.

Scotland fan
The Tartan Army is seen as a "trump card"

Mr McConnell, who will be joined by Sports Minister Mike Watson and Irish Sports Minister Jim McDaid, said the Stockholm congress was a "crucial milestone" in the process.

And he attacked those who had been trying to "run down" the bid.

"All the media have been trying to say that it is not going to work and the Irish are not up for it.

"It's a lot of nonsense.

"If we in Scotland would just stand up and get out there and advocate ourselves and make sure that everybody in Europe knows that everybody in Scotland wants this to happen it will make a real difference and we will be much, much more successful."

Scotland coach Bertie Vogts lent his support at a Euro 2008 media conference marking the launch of the bid's logo.

New logo

"I know with our fantastic fans and the grounds we can offer, the bid will be extremely strong.

"Awarding the tournament to Scotland and Ireland will provide a great target and incentive for young players developing in the game," he said.

The new logo was simultaneously unveiled by Mr McConnell and Mr Vogts in Edinburgh, and by Mr Ahern and former Celtic and Ireland goalkeeper Pat Bonner in Dublin.

It was inspired by a design by eight-year-old Robbie Hutt from Inverness.

Other candidates to host the championship are Bosnia and Croatia (joint bid), Greece and Turkey (joint bid), a four-way bid from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway and a solo bid by Hungary.

Scotland's first minister Jack McConnell
"We have trump cards up our sleeves"
See also:

28 Feb 02 | Scotland
Celtic partners lodge Euro 2008 bid
28 Feb 02 | Scotland
Scots and Irish announce joint bid
27 Feb 02 | Scotland
Row mars Euro 2008 bid
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
Fans split over Euro 2008 bid
29 Jan 02 | Scotland
Euro 2008 bid talks kick off
24 Jan 02 | Scotland
'Come together' plea over 2008 bid
23 Jan 02 | Scotland
No solo Scots bid for Euro 2008
18 Jan 02 | Scotland
Tartan Army marches on Holyrood
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