Switzerland History

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Written by: Patrick He

General History

Soccer has historically been a popular sport in Switzerland. The Swiss Football Association was formed in 1895 and was a founding member of FIFA in 1904. However, despite the popularity, the national team has historically been mediocre in international competitions, with its biggest successes coming in the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1924 Olympics, Switzerland won a silver medal in soccer, losing to Uruguay in the final. It also reached the quarter-finals in the World Cup twice, in 1934 and in 1938, with the former being the first time it ever participated in the World Cup (“Switzerland” 1). This early success continued into 1966, where the national team missed just one World Cup, in 1958. After that, however, Switzerland failed to qualify for every single major international tournament until the 1994 World Cup hosted by the USA, followed by the 1996 European Championship hosted by England. Since then, the national team has done relatively well, qualifying for all but one major tournament (Euro 2012) and going beyond the Group Stage twice (“Switzerland” 1).

Part of Switzerland’s more recent success lies in the fact that it has an abundance of youth talent. While the Swiss Raiffeisen Super League is not known for doing particularly well in European competition, it, much like the Dutch Eredivisie, has produced several promising players through the various constituent teams’ academies. Players in the league are on average aged 25.2, a half year lower than the European average (“Swiss Football Study” 4). 28% of players in the Swiss Super League are club-trained, four percentage points higher than the rest of Europe, as of 2012 (“Swiss Football Study” 6). These facts, coupled with the fact that the league has one of the lowest numbers of foreign players, means that there is a lot of money spent on training home-grown players that are able to play for the Switzerland national team. As a result, Switzerland, despite its small size, has the sixth highest numbers of national team-eligible expatriates in the top five European leagues (“Swiss Football Study” 11). Swiss success in youth soccer has been shown on the international level, with a title at the U-17 World Cup in 2009. As of April 7, 2016, the Switzerland national team is ranked 14th (“Member Association – Switzerland” 1).

 switzerland 3

(“Swiss Football Study” 11).

 Road to Qualification

In the Euro 2016 qualifying round, Switzerland was placed into Group E alongside England, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, and San Marino. The campaign started off poorly, with a 2-0 defeat against England at home on September 8, 2014, and a 1-0 defeat away against Slovenia on October 9, 2014. The first game started off relatively evenly, with both sides having good chances at goal. However, Switzerland were denied multiple times by England’s Joe Hart, and eventually, England were able to capitalize on a defensive mistake to score the opener, and later on, a second in the dying embers of the game (“Watch Welbeck’s…” 1). In the second game, Switzerland dominated for most of the match, with Slovenia’s Handanovic forced to make a number of good saves; in the end, Switzerland conceded a penalty, which was converted for the game’s only goal (“Highlights: Slovenia v Switzerland” 1). In both of these games, Switzerland played well and were unlucky to come out of them with no points.

However, Switzerland was able to turn this around by winning five consecutive qualifying matches. In its third match, against San Marino, the team won convincingly, with a final scoreline of 4-0. During the game, Switzerland kept 71% possession and had 29 attempts on goal (“Highlights: San Marino v Switzerland” 1). Switzerland followed this win up with another 4-0 win against Lithuania. Xherdan Shaqiri was the hero of the day, whipping in a cross that the Lithuanian goalkeeper punched into his own net for the second-half opener, before finding the back of the net two more times (“Highlights: Switzerland v Lithuania” 1). Switzerland went on to win its next three games before losing 2-0 again to England in September 2015. However, the team bounced back to win 7-0 against San Marino and 1-0 against Estonia, ultimately finishing second in its group behind England, with 21 points from 7 wins and 3 losses (“Standings – Qualifying Round”).

How to cite this page: “Switzerland History”, Written by Patrick He(2016). European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/tournament-guides/european-cup-2016-guide/underrated-teams-of-euro-2016/switzerland/history/ (accessed on (date)). 

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