Österreichische Post AG, one of four national supporters of UEFA EURO 2008™, has produced various ranges of stamps to mark this summer's event. "For the last 150 years, stamps have been little ambassadors for their country, its culture and characteristics.
These stamps are intended as ambassadors representing the European Championship in Austria,"said Herbert Götz, Österreichische Post AG's executive responsible for marketing and clients. The first such ambassadors were in the form of The Trix and Flix Stamp Sheet – with four Renate Gruber designs featuring UEFA EURO 2008™ mascots Trix and Flix.
Another stamp set - also designed by Renate Gruber - features the symbols of the eight host cities for UEFA EURO 2008™. Another series features the event logo. One series - the children's drawings series - is the result of an Austria-wide drawing competition held by Österreichische Post in co-operation with the provincial schools inspectorates.
In addition, a special issue stamp - Football(field) - designed by Hannes Margreiter shows a green football pitch and a pair of legs and a ball.
The most recent stamp issued to mark UEFA EURO 2008™ is something of a philately and football first. The special round self-adhesive adidas EUROPASS stamp is made of the same material, a synthetic mixture (containing polyurethane), as the 14-panel match ball produced for the finals by Adidas and called the Europass. This is similar to the Teamgeist, the official football used for the Fifa World Cup 2006, but with a slightly modified surface structure.
The Europass was unveiled during the draw ceremony held in Lucerne on December 2, 2007. The Austria stamp, masterminded and printed by a French company, Cartor Security Printing, was released on March 12 and launched during a special ceremony hosted by Austria Post and Adidas at the Haus des Sports in Vienna.
Comparatively small numbers of this unique stamp — 490,000 — have been printed by Cartor and they are likely to be sought after by stamp collectors and football fans alike.
The opening ceremony of Euro 2008 takes place in Basle, followed by the first match between Switzerland and the Czech Republic, on Saturday, June 7. The final will be played in Vienna on Sunday, June 29.
Gilles Le Baud, the former owner of Cartor Security Printers, outlines the challenges that the stamp presented his company, which is at La Loupe about 140km (87 miles) west of Paris. "The stamp printing and die cutting was extremely challenging because the polyurethane material expanded and contracted during the processes." Cartor worked on the project behind closed doors, perfecting the printing techniques between April and September 2007.
"Cartor then signed the contract with Austria Post and the material arrived from Adidas in large rolls during November. We developed a method to put a self-adhesive backing, and used the silk screen technique in two colours, red and black, to print the actual stamps."
Erich Haas, director of philately at Austria Post, says: "It would be impossible to imagine a more authentic stamp, because it is made of the same material as the footballs that will be used at all the matches during the Euro 2008 tournament."
The stamp received a warm welcome from the captain of the Austrian team that will be competing as co-hosts, in Euro 2008. Andreas Ivanschitz, a midfielder, who is now on a two-year loan with the Greek side Panathinaikos, says: "The special Adidas football to be used during Euro 2008 will help the players to have a better control of the ball and more power when shooting at goal. This should mean that more goals will be scored than at previous Euro tournaments."