Euro 2004 digest

The England team hotel for Euro 2004, the Solplay, is playing host to radio and TV journalists working for official FA rights holders BBC and Sky.

The England team hotel for Euro 2004, the Solplay, is playing host to radio and TV journalists working for official FA rights holders BBC and Sky.

But the journalists, whose employers are paying for them to stay at the hotel, are not allowed to use the outdoor swimming pool and can’t eat at the same time as the England team in the dining room.

The journalists, however, hope to have the hotel bar to themselves.

At least the England media centre is very impressive. Daily newspapers from England that day are available along with internet link-ups.

But disclaimer notices have been circulated which state that while the operators of the centre exercise the fullest prudence they can accept no liability whatsoever in respect of property damage, death or personal injury caused by or resulting from acts of terrorism, riot, civil commotion or public disturbance.

The England team, meanwhile, are training in the old national stadium where Celtic won the European Cup in 1967. Michael Owen admitted the England players were unaware of the of the tradition of the venue.

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Dutch youngster Arjen Robben, who officially becomes a £12m (€18m) Chelsea player after the tournament, insists he is not worried by the London club’s change of manager since he agreed to move from PSV Eindhoven.

Robben, 20, is expected to figure when Holland open their Group D campaign against Germany in Porto next Tuesday, and said: “I am looking forward to working with Jose Mourinho.”

He added: “Yes, it is a little unsettling to see a management change before you have actually arrived at the club.

“But Mourinho is a very good coach, I only know him for what he did at Porto where he won a lot of prizes, and I am sure everything will work out for me.

“I am still very excited about the Chelsea move, but I will concentrate on Holland first before thinking about the future.”

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It is traditional for the fans of some countries to get shirty with their players when they return from big tournaments having not lived up to expectations.

More than once in the past, international teams have been greeted with volleys of tomatoes and boos after touching down on home soil without the trophy which had been at the centre of their mission.

Switzerland coach Kobi Kuhn and his players, however, were given a rousing send-off when they left Zurich’s Kloten airport for Portugal – complete with a giant tee-shirt containing more than 20,000 signatures from well-wishers at home.

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Italian MotoGP rider Max Biaggi will keep one eye on his country’s Group C preparations this weekend in between his efforts to win the Catalunya GP on Sunday.

Italy face Denmark in their opening game on Monday and Biaggi will have more than a passing interest in how his countrymen fare in Portugal.

Biaggi plays in two charity football teams and has formed a midfield partnership with F1 champion Michael Schumacher in the team of the World Drivers Association for Solidarity.

“I play on the right side of midfield, the same position I played when I was a kid in my local team,” explained Biaggi, who was far more interested in football until a trip to the Vallelunga circuit near his home town of Rome fired his enthusiasm for two wheels when he was 17.

“I gel best in that midfield with Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella, together with Giorgio Pantano because they are all extremely skilful and play very well.”

MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi played football for his fan club in Mugello last week while the likes of Carlos Checa, Alex Barros and Jeremy McWilliams are regular members of the Riders For Health charity team.

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