Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Euro Poland vs Russia

With the Euro into its second week, I thought it was probably about time I went downtown near the fan zone. This is not something I chose to do lightly, as I really am not a big fan of crowds in any form. So I bit the bullet and headed in to see what all the talk was about. I had seen the fan zone during the day between classes and before and after my Polish lessons. However, none of these had been during Polish game time. I have to admit also to a little aversion because of the fact the media had been beating up the story that the Russian fans want to march to the stadium on their national day, basically to paraphrase a declaration of war. This of course would give all the Polish Hooligans (for Australians, you would probably translate this to hardcore bogans) a great reason to be offended and taught and/or fight the Russian fans, and of course for the Russian supporters, should they care to, respond.

I love some good old fashion heckling and word play for sports events, I think it can bring a great carnival atmosphere to sport a lot like you see at some sports, The Barmy Army for cricket being a classic example. Witty, and jolly and all adding to the improvement of the  vibe and atmosphere of the event. However, the hooligans associated with football aren't about sport or about being witty, unfortunately. This said there were some incidents on the day, but only 180odd arrests. Sounds like a lot? Well not when you compare it to the numbers of people in the area there would have easily been 200,000-300,000 people in the areas between the fan zone and the stadium. So when you see that number, take that into account, I am sure that 180 people would probably get arrested on a normal Saturday night in many large cities without a specific event.

While we were in the centre, we saw hundreds of riot police and they were really doing a fabulous job. People could have fun, sing their songs, dance, drink on the street (not normally legal), but as soon as someone went too far they removed that person and anyone who tried to stop the police doing it. It obviously worked well if you look at those numbers.

So, let's not focus on the negative, but the positives. Around 300,000 people enjoyed the atmosphere in a sea of red and white. It all made me proud to now call Poland home. It is an amazing sight to see the cars around town with flags or their wing mirrors covered. Lots of people wearing scarves, hats, draped in flags, faces painted and almost all smiling and having a great time. You will see from the photos, that many Russian and Polish fans were walking together to the stadium in fact some were probably even friends. Let's all enjoy the Euro for what it is. Yes, a chance to dress up and show your pride. Or like some, you are a "Janusz", which in English would probably be called a "Johnny come lately" supporting your team that before you didn't really know about.

This is about 3 hours to game time...... Fanzone.

Gotta love the matching his and hers!

Now that is a tough head to get right.

How's Warsaw? It's a riot.

Ahead is the Bridge and just beyond that the stadium, it was a little too busy for me.

Can you pick the crowds favourite player?
The Irish turn up everywhere

silly hats are all the rage
beverage sir?

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