Blind fans to follow action with headphones

VIENNA: Did you hear that goal?

Some blind and visually impaired fans will get to follow the European football Championship matches at Austrian stadiums through headphones, thanks to an initiative aimed at making the tournament accessible to all.

The project co-ordinator, Britta Wagner, of the platform “football 4 all” said the concept was a success in Germany and promises to be an equal hit south of the border.

The idea is simple: people will get live descriptions of the action — in German — through the headphones so they can follow along in their seats in the stadium without actually seeing the ball.

“This is really a super service,” Wagner said.

But the perk is limited to those lucky enough to get hold of the special tickets. Wagner said a total of 160 passes were made available by UEFA at reduced costs. All were snapped up quickly.

“They’re really great seats,” Wagner said. “The final sold out in a minute.”

Each visually impaired fan who secured a ticket can bring along an escort for free, Wagner said.

Midfielder Gelson Fernandes blossomed during his first year at Manchester City under the tutelage of manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. Now Eriksson is gone and Fernandes is somewhat bothered.

“It’s a disappointment,” said the 22-year-old player, who only broke into Switzerland’s line-up this season.

Eriksson, the former England coach, had his contract terminated at Manchester City after only one year in charge. He led the team to a top 10 finish in the Premier League, but disappointed its owner, the deposed Thailand Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Peace be with you

A Catholic church in Vienna is calling on fans from Euro 2008 competitors Austria, Croatia, Germany and Poland to attend a multi-lingual mass this weekend.

The Franciscan Church says on its website that the 9.15 (GMT) service on Sunday will be held in German, Croatian and Polish. Later that day, Austria faces Croatia in Vienna’s Ernst Happel Stadium, while Germany takes on Poland in Klagenfurt.

Anyone for tennis

Switzerland has relied on tennis and Roger Federer for its sporting glory recently, and it’s now calling on an older court veteran to provide some entertainment before Euro 2008.

Yannick Noah will kick off three weeks of festivities in the Alpine nation with a free outdoor concert in the Geneva fan zone on Friday, a day before the tournament begins.

The 48-year-old Frenchman is taking the stage 25 years after winning the French Open, his only major victory. He sings a fusion of reggae and world music.

In Zurich, organisers have brought in Mel C, a former Spice Girl. Basel is going patriotic with a performance by Swiss rapper Baschi.

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