Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Austria 2016
European Football Championship 2016

ISSUE DATE: 10 June 2016

2016 and finally that time has come: Austria’s national team has qualified for the final stages of a major event and, as a result, will be taking part in the European Championship in France in June (and possibly also in July). Austrian Post would like to congratulate the national team and is celebrating Austria’s participation in Euro 2016 with a commemorative stamp. The last time that the Austrian national team took part in the final stages of the European Championship was eight years ago and actually had nothing to do with sporting achievement: in 2008, when Austria and Switzerland co-hosted the European Football Championship, both countries qualified automatically. Not that it went very well: following two defeats and a draw, Austria went out in the group stage. In 2012 – as on so many previous occasions – the national team did not even make it through qualification. The best result ever achieved by the Austrian national team was third place in the World Cup in Switzerland in 1954. The final score in the quarter-final between Austria and Switzerland, the “Hitzeschlacht von Lausanne” (the heat battle of Lausanne), was 7:5, winning Austria a place in the semi-final. During the match the Austrian goalkeeper suffered from sunstroke, but the team was not allowed to bring on a substitute. As a result Switzerland quickly took the lead with a score of 0:3, but within ten minutes the Austrians converted the deficit into a 5:3 lead. This legendary match is still the highest scoring match in the World Cup finals to date. But coming back to the present day, Austria’s road to Euro 2016 was a rocky one. In 2014 the team just failed to qualify for the final stages of the World Cup in Brazil. However, national trainer Marcel Koller – a Swiss national – managed to lead his team through the Euro 2016 qualifying rounds as group leaders. For the first time ever, the national team succeeded in qualifying for the final stages of the European Championship by virtue of their sporting achievements and not courtesy of the rules. With nine wins and one draw, they even achieved the best match results of any group winner, with the exception of the footballing nation England. What is more, this match success catapulted the national team to 10th place in the FIFA world rankings, its best ever placing since this ranking was introduced. In the first round of the final stages of the European Championships in France, Austria will meet Hungary, Poland and Iceland. The top two teams from each group and the four best third placed teams will go forward into the last sixteen and continue with the knock-out system, with the losing team being dropped after every match. The final will take place on 10th July. Regardless of how far the Austrian players manage to progress, the fans watching on their televisions at home and those who have been lucky enough to get tickets for the matches will, without doubt, live through every nail-biting minute with them, and hopefully be celebrating with them too.

Stamp images and description thanks to Austrian Post - Österreichische Post
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