Posted: 7/30/2008
Title: THE BAREFOOT PRINCE OF VADUZ

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     Vaduz, capital of Liechtenstein, has only one pro club, FC Vaduz whose new. improved stadium, RHEINPARK STADION is on the banks of the River Rhine, and a 10 minute walk from the town centre.  They were promoted from the Swiss Challenge League to the 10 team exclusive Swiss AXPO Super League for the very first time, and I am on hand for the opening match of the 2008-09 campaign.www.fcvaduz.li

     It only seats 6,127, more than enough for league matches, with relatively new stands on all four sides. Behind one end they have 3 full size training pitches, one of which is artificial, a beach volleyball court, and then some corn fields behind that. Outside the main stand, or 'tribune', is an apple orchard. You arrive on the train at Sargens, and then catch the frequent Liechtenstein Bus(free to Eurail Pass holders) for the half hour ride to Vaduz, past a number of small villages. I hadn't visited since 1979 and they have lots of new expensive apartments, bank buildings, museums and government offices, and even a McDonalds. It's the first country I don't see any beggars, and the first 2 cars I see are a Rolls Royce and a BMW. Just like Orange County, but these are probably paid for!!

    The country is a Principality ' Fur Godt, Furst und Vaterland'(For God, Prince and Fatherland) and the ruling family live in an impossing castle high about the centre of VaduzPrince Hans-Adam II is a fit 63 but on National Day,5th August 2004 handed over the day to day running of his country to eldest son Prince Alois, now 40. The new prince, married a Bavarian princess and they have 3 boys and a girl in their early teens. The old prince likes to go on long walks up in the forests, and goes barefoot. The family, who own a huge art collection, like their privacy, so Vaduz Castle is not open to the public. However, every National Day they join their subjects in a walk through town with the locals in traditional clothes. Prince Hans-Adam is reputed to have a personal fortune of $4 billion US.

 FC Aarau are the visitors, The White Eagles, although they are playing in all black, and FC Vaduz in all red, and they have brought about 200 boisterous fans, waving flags and chanting throughout the match. The home team lose 2-0 and it could be worse. Coach Heinz Hermann must be very disappointed with the effort. At half-time I am invited into the Executive club which most of the fans in the main tribune belong to and have a couple of leberkasse sandwiches. 2,150 is the announced attendance on opening day, about a third of  Vaduz's population. The fans are fairly quiet and some of the children wear the red and white colours, or the red and blue of the national team who play at the same venue. Liechtenstein are ranked 124th in the FIFA Rankings, between Chad and Madagascar, and 46th in UEFA, between Kakakhstan and Malta.

    Earlier in the day I visit the stadium and chat with the General Manager Axel  Bernhard who is a really busy guy on this important opening matchday, and get a little background information. They recently played Zrivjski Mostar in the UEFA Cup first leg and lost 1-2 with 720 spectators. I go back to Sargens and catch a train to Klosters and then Davos high up in the mountains, on one of the many private Swiss railways, and the resorts are full of tourists. Davos-Klosters, twin resorts are about 1,500 metres and boasts an ice hockey stadium and there is plenty of life beside winter sports, swimming, hiking, para gliding etc, horse riding, sunbathing and good food and drink.

    Liechtenstein citizens seem to have an ideal life in the slow lane, and everyone was calm and didn't need the 100 or so police and rent a cops, about 1 for every 20 people present at the match.. If you ever think of invading on the cheap, do it early, because the buses stop at 11.00pm!!

  

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