Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The organizers of Euro 2008 events in Geneva have set their toughest goal yet, to find city residents who speak Czech or Turkish and want to volunteer for work.
These multilingual good samaritans are needed to staff the football fans’ "embassy" that will operate in Plainpalais during the 7-29 June tournament. While there are many Portuguese people in Geneva to aid their visitors, finding help for fans of the other two nations playing here is a problem.
David Zimmermann, Zurich-based coordinator for the Fan Zone complexes in Switzerland’s four host cities, told GenevaLunch: "It is a big concern for me that we find Czech and Turkish people to volunteer."
Fan embassies are being created to help those expected to travel to
Geneva with little money or skills in other languages. "Many football
fans are not well prepared for their journey so they need information,"
"Our volunteers must speak the fans’ language but also know the city. If a Turkish fan comes to Plainpalais and wants to know where the Jet d’Eau is, the person at the embassy has to know. They also want to know where they can play football, where to go if they lose their passport and how to find tickets. We are not a box office but we don’t want them going to the black market."
Embassies have been part of football’s travelling circus since the 1996 Euro in England. Kevin Miles is an English consultant for the tournament organizer UEFA. He specializes in helping football fans abroad.
Miles says: "We had similar problems in ’96 with Romania and Bulgaria playing in Newcastle. We had trouble getting city guide material translated and finding volunteers for the days when matches were not being played.
"It is important that volunteers come from the fans’ home country because they also understand the culture. Our experience is that looking in the foreign language departments at local universities is the best route."
This task will be given to the person who is currently being appointed by David Zimmermann to manage the Geneva embassy. Zimmermann says: "We know from the Switzerland-Turkey game in Bern two years ago that many, many Turkish fans come from southern Germany. It will be an important challenge but we will manage."