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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 10:24 GMT
The Euro 2008 contenders
The countries vying with Scotland and Ireland to host Euro 2008.
A lavish bid has been put together, with the total cost of their proposals likely to exceed £70m.
Austria missed out on staging Euro 2004 after putting forward a joint bid with Hungary, and have decided instead to team up with Switzerland.
They are promising seamless organisation, security, and easy access in the middle of Europe.
The countries are well-versed in staging major sporting events, particularly winter events, but last hosted a football showpiece in the 1954 World Cup.
But the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna has staged the 1964, 1987, 1990 and 1995 European Cup finals.
And Switzerland is home to both Europe and world football governing bodies Uefa and Fifa.
Switzerland successfully hosted the European under-21 tournament this year - a sign of their determination to become a major player in the game.
Our verdict: The bookies' favourite
The Celtic bid promises a passion for the game, footballing tradition, and experience of having hosted international matches or European club finals.
The clincher maybe the fact the two countries boast the largest collection of existing stadia (229,000 seats already in place compared to 80,000 in Switzerland and Austria).
That means they would in theory produce the highest ticket sales, though television fees account for the lion's share of the tournament's income.
The weak link is the Irish element to the bid.
Dublin's Lansdowne Road is dilapidated while Croke Park has so far been ruled off limits to football by owners, the Gaelic Athletics Association.
The Irish government has said it cannot provide public funds to build Stadium Ireland, and it remains little more than a glint in the eye of political leader Bertie Aherne.
Our verdict: Second favourite
Nordic four-nation bid
Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden have come together in a bid backed by the promise "The Saga Comes True".
They insist they have lined up a "united smile" - emphasised by the fact the qualifying phase will be drawn by Santa Claus in Finland.
But the Scandinavian bid is not hard to pick some holes in - four hosts nations, large distances between venues, and a complicated method of ensuring at least two of the four hosts are involved in the finals.
The four Nordic national sides want to play a qualifying group or play-off of their own to decide which two "home" teams will play the final round.
Sweden hosted the European championships in 1992, won by surprise packages Denmark, and the World Cup in 1958.
Their bid is likely to be helped by the fact Uefa president Lennart Johansson is Swedish, though he cannot vote while the Scandinavians are still in the running.
Our verdict: Third favourite
Hungary has made a massive financial commitment to hosting Euro 2008, eager to become the first Eastern European country to stage a major football tournament.
The government, which reckons the tournament would bring 500m Euros into the ailing economy, is willing to stump up a 1.3bn Euro state grant to deliver the necessary transport, hotels and stadiums.
The Hungarian government has even scrapped plans to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games to put all its energy into Euro 2008
The bid was not considered a serious contender - until Uefa's executive committee made impressed noises after their fact-finding visit.
Hungary makes great play of the past history of hosting the big events, such as the 1998 European Athletics Championships, and have put massive effort into what is a pretty slick bid.
They believe they have learnt lessons from their unsuccesful joint bid with neighbour Austria for Euro 2004 (Portugal won the vote).
Our verdict: Good outside bet
Traditionally bitter rivals, the Greeks and Turks are promising to forget their differences and deliver a festival of Mediterranean passion.
Turkey has set aside a budget of 50m Euros for the tournament to construct the Antalya Stadium and 25m Euros to improve Izmir's Ataturk Stadium.
The Turkish government has already guaranteed the costs and Greece has also set aside around 50m Euros for stadium construction.
Both countries have staged sporting events but are seeking the worldwide prestige of hosting a major soccer showpiece for the first time.
Turkey has staged the European basketball and swimming championships as well as numerous world and European weightlifting and wrestling competitions.
Greece has a long history of staging international sporting events starting with the ancient Olympic Games.
Our verdict: Rank outsider
Bosnia and Croatia both hope staging the tournament will attract much-needed foreign investment to build and reconstruct the country's sporting infrastructure and venues.
But the organisers have admitted they will find it hard to meet the technical and financial demands of Uefa.
The two countries have a rich sporting pedigree and proved themselves capable of hosting major events before war ripped the region apart.
Bosnia's capital Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics when it was still part of Yugoslavia.
Croatia hosted the European Athletics Championship in Split in 1990 and the European Handball Championship in 2000.
Our verdict: Rank outsider
After producing top level athletes for much of the 20th century, "We deserve it" is Russia's chief claim in its bid to draw the continent's top football tournament out of western Europe.
Moscow's Lushinikov stadium (80,000), which hosted the 1999 Uefa Cup final, and the Lokomotiv stadium (30,000) are part of the Russian bid.
And the people behind the bid are promising to build another six stadia along the Volga river from St Petersburg to southern cities by 2006.
After an initial refusal, Russia's government gave backing to the bid in May.
The organisers estimate they need about one billion dollars worth of investment in new stadia and infrastructure by 2008.
Our verdict: Rank outsider
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