Preparations for the European Mountain Village Championships 2020 are gathering pace and it is becoming increasingly clear what will attract visitors from all over Europe to the Ottmar Hitzfeld GsponArena in summer 2020. Media coverage is already gaining momentum, and Spanish television with El Día Después has also put FC Gspon, Ottmar Hitzfeld GsponArena and the upcoming Bergdorf European Championship 2020 at the centre of a special programme in a detailed portrait. In the echo to this broadcast, the website of the Bergdorf-EM www.bergdorfem.com was able to record a visitor jump of 1.5 million hits worldwide. All this shows that the Bergdorf-EM is a counterpart to the official UEFA EURO and has enjoyed increasing popularity since 2008.
Real football is played high in the Swiss mountains
Somehow, high in the Swiss mountains, very close to the world-famous Matterhorn, everything seems to have fallen a little out of time. From Staldenried, the cable car takes you uphill to the tranquil car-free Gspon, which actually has only a handful of permanent residents. Wooden houses tanned by the weather in typical Valais style duck down to the mountain slopes and everything seems somehow to be borrowed from the clichéd Heidi films. Somewhere, a narrow mountain path winds its way even further up and arrives at an altitude of about 2’000 metres above sea level at some point on a flat place, which then conjures up the astonishment in the face of every visitor.
We arrived at the Ottmar Hitzfeld GsponArena, probably the highest football stadium in Europe. This fantastic football pitch is not only the official playing field and training ground of FC Gspon, but also the venue of the Bergdorf European Championship 2020, at which Switzerland will present itself as host.
Yes, up here in the Swiss mountains, real football is played. Although with smaller variations on the official regulations, but adapted to the special conditions of an altitude that always demands a plus in sporting fitness. Here, where the air is thinner, the body has to perform better and that alone requires a special class of participants in what is probably the craziest football tournament in the Alps.
El Día Después visits Gspon
For the footballers of FC Gspon and for the organisers of the Bergdorf European Championship 2020, the visit to Spanish television in the second half of September 2019 was something special. The great interest that the creators of the Monday programme El Día Después showed in mountain football was not only a special honour, but also a real accolade for FC Gspon, Ottmar Hitzfeld GsponArena and for the upcoming Bergdorf European Championship 2020. In a programme in which the stars and asterisks of Spanish professional football usually come together every Monday, FC Gspon now also played at the very top of the world football league, at least in the media.
The focus was not so much on the exotic value of football matches in the highest football arena in Europe, but rather on the sporting value of mountain football, which brings people and even nations together and unites them under one sporting and social idea. With SportMeetsCharity, the organisers of mountain football in Gspon also succeed in bringing sport and social projects together in a successful way. This, too, is what makes mountain football in the Valais Alps so special and underlines the special value of an idea that goes far beyond tourist aspects.
And the television producers of El Día Después are not the only Spaniards to have discovered the special thing about mountain football in Gspon. We would also like to remember how Manolo, probably the world’s most famous football fan, cheered on his team in Gspon in 2010 during the foreplay between Switzerland and Spain, and how he paid tribute to mountain football with his world-famous drum. A memorable game in which Switzerland subsequently defeated Spain in the official FIFA World Cup match.
Sponsors always welcome
Of course, the El Día Después feature on Spanish television was not the only one dealing with Swiss mountain football and its impact on the whole of Europe and even the world. Again and again, regional, national and international media like to report in detail about mountain football in the Swiss Alps. And celebrities from the worlds of sport, film, music and politics also like to be seen in Ottmar Hitzfeld.
GsponArena and like to emphasize the special value of mountain football. This also attracts sponsors, who are of course always welcome here. Especially when there are a lot of tasks to be fulfilled in the preparation of a mountain village European Championship, which of course not only require the personal commitment of the organisers around the OC team with President Fabian Furrer, but also a special financial effort.
Just over ten years ago it was rather difficult to find potential partners and sponsors for the first Bergdorf European Championships in 2008. Today this has also become much easier thanks to the great media attention and public interest in the special football tournament. And yet we need to concentrate our efforts on winning partners who do not necessarily see the commercial value of sport here, but rather its value in connecting with society.
Last but not least, it is the sound specially created for mountain football by the world-famous star composer and producer Peter Ries that gives the event a perfect musical setting.
Tourism also benefits from mountain football
It is undisputed that tourism in the Valais and especially in Staldenried and Gspon with mountain football and the highest football arena in Europe is also gaining in tourist value. And this although tourist hotspots such as Saas-Fee and Zermatt with the Matterhorn are virtually around the corner. What speaks for Staldenried/Gspon and for mountain football, however, are the hardly commercialised identical impressions that tourists and football fans are allowed to collect here indefinitely. Those who have taken the cable car from Staldenried and walked up the ascending path to the Ottmar Hitzfeld GsponArena will not forget the sensational mountain panorama or the impressive football pitch, which is surrounded by hiking trails and a breathtaking natural backdrop and somehow dives into an ambience that as such seems rather out of time. It is the combination of typical Swiss clichés, of nature and sport that makes the special a part of everyday life and the extraordinary a loveable experience. And that’s exactly what all soccer fans of the European Mountain Village Championship 2020 in Gspon will feel, who are already looking forward to the craziest soccer tournament in the Alps.
And by the way, El Día Después is already planning further coverage of mountain football in Gspon, probably not just about the legendary European Mountain Village Championships, which will be held here in 2020.
Communication, marketing and media contact: Beat Ambord, F1rst GmbH, www.f1rst.ch
Sponsor contact and communication: Fabian Furrer, SMC GmbH, www.bergdorfem.com