The Government has rejected suggestions that Ireland and Scotland's joint bid to host the Euro 2008 soccer championships lost out because of the debate over which stadia would be used.

Favourites Switzerland and Austria were awarded the right by UEFA to host the tournament in Geneva today.

The Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism said that it was not possible to give an absolute guarantee about the use of Croke Park, as only the facts could be set out.

John O'Donoghue said that Ireland was not responsible for the bid's failure.

Opposition blames Government

The Opposition has said that uncertainly over Ireland's stadia was a crucial factor in Ireland's failure to win support support for the Euro 2008 joint bid.

Fine Gael's spokesperson on sports, Jimmy Deenihan, said that the Government had to take responsibility for the unsuccessful outcome, as the lack of availability of two stadia here was a critical factor.

He said the bid would have probably been successful, but for the Government's interference with the FAI and the GAA.

Pat Rabbitte, the Labour leader, has said that UEFA had clearly decided that the Taoiseach could not be relied upon to deliver on the written commitments he gave this week.

Switzerland and Austria beat five other contenders apart from Ireland and Scotland's joint bid.

European soccer's governing body had also heard presentations from Bosnia-Croatia, Greece-Turkey, a Nordic bid from Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway and solo bids from Russia and Hungary.