Why is the Swiss football team so successful?

Why is the Swiss football team so successful?

Switzerland, in comparison with the rest of Europe’s football giants, is a small country with only 9 million residents. Yet, this did not stop Switzerland from reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 and automatically qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar, forcing Italy into the playoffs in the process. 

Other nations of a similar size to Switzerland have failed to achieve similar success on a regular basis, and many "football-mad" nations that are larger than Switzerland can sometimes lose out. With this in mind, here is why the Swiss football team retains its success, despite a small population.

Swiss football team continues to overachieve

When looking at football in Switzerland, it is hard to tell why the Swiss football team is able to punch above its weight, as it does regularly. The highest league in Switzerland, the Swiss Super League, does not garner much of a global audience, and although Swiss teams do compete in European competitions, they rarely make it out of the group stages.

So what's changed? Rather than a golden generation like that seen in Iceland in 2016 and Denmark in the 1990s, Switzerland has had a slow, but constant stream of world-class talent coming through. New stars come in to replace the old. Where once stood Alexander Frei, then stood Seferovic and Embolo.

Youth system in Switzerland garners top talent

This is in part down to luck, but also thanks to the excellent youth team systems that Swiss clubs provide. Clubs in major Swiss cities like ZurichBasel and Bern have extensive youth academies. These institutions nurture players from the under-15s right into the first team.

Once they have made their debuts, Swiss players also benefit from a seamless transition to German, French, Italian and even English football. At the time of writing, of the 22 players currently in the Switzerland squad, only six still play in Switzerland. Others are regular starters for clubs like Manchester City, Inter Milan and Sevilla - some of the largest teams in the world.

Finally, it has to be noted that immigration has a big part to play in the success of the Swiss national team. Players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka were born to residence permit holders. Without them, Switzerland would be nowhere near as successful at football as they are now.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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