England lost out to tournament hosts Portugal in a penalty shoot-out after Meier denied a goal which would have put them ahead in the last minutes of the game.
The unfortunate Meier woke up on Friday morning to discover that he had become a strong contender for the title of most unpopular man in Britain.
In a succession of characteristic tirades, the British tabloids convicted him of everything from imbecility to corruption, not to mention violating Swiss neutrality.
An estimated 25 million England fans tuned in on Thursday night to watch their side crash out of Euro 2004.
For “The Sun” – Britain’s most popular tabloid newspaper – England was “robbed” by a “half-wit” referee who made a “heartbreaking decision” to disallow a headed goal by Sol Campbell in the 89th minute of the game.
“Swiss ref Urs Meier condemned our boys to extra time and a dreaded penalty shoot-out,” said the paper.
The Sun seemed to have no trouble finding fans who shared its sentiments.
“The ref was bang out of order and he should be sacked. He was terrible,” one England fan told the paper.
“That referee is more bent than one of Uri Geller’s spoons,” said another.
Meier disallowed the goal on the grounds that Campbell’s England teammate, John Terry, had fouled the Portuguese goalkeeper.
The “Daily Mirror”, another British tabloid, sought to outdo its red-top rival with the headline “Reffing hell!” above an interview with former England striker Ian Wright, who told the paper that Meier’s decision was “a joke”.
“He’s meant to be the best referee in the world and he gives a decision like that. He cost us the game.”
“I thought the Swiss were supposed to be neutral. The referee is a damned disgrace,” was the conclusion of one Mirror reader.
By Friday afternoon Meier’s name had spread well beyond the pages of Britain’s tabloids.
British supermarket chain Asda announced it was offering Swiss nationals free eye tests following the referee’s decision to disallow Campbell’s late goal.
“Lets face it, we were robbed,” said David Rutley, Asda’s director of financial services.
“Sol obviously scored. Well, it was obvious to everyone apart from the Swiss referee, who clearly needs his eyes testing.”
Rutley added that Asda had already sent Meier a letter informing him of the offer.
“We’ve written to Meier telling him that if he would like to take us up on the offer we will throw glasses in as well.”