For football fans visiting Euro 2012, it is not only about what happens on the pitch. It is also a chance to enjoy the festivities around the games. While Irish supporters were stealing the show in Poland, Swedish fans were trying to bring similar joy to Ukraine’s capital, Kiev.
In blue and yellow, they blended in well with the ranks of Ukrainian supporters in the main fan zone at Independence Square. The Scandinavians surprised locals, maintaining a cheerful mood despite losing 2 – 1 to the host country.
One Swedish fan, Ola Sjostedt was even hosted by the government. After the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, bet him Ukraine would beat Sweden in their opening game, Ola – true to his word – showed up at the government offices to give the premier his winnings, a glass of Swedish beer.
Ukraine’s win over Sweden was one of the most emotional moments for the tournament’s co-hosts. The triumph of Blokhin’s team was witnessed by over 100,000 fans, who gathered in the metropolitan fan zone. After the final whistle they turned the whole city into one big dance floor.
But the mood was somewhat different following Ukraine’s match against France. No singing or dancing – As Ukrainian supporters struggle to hold back their tears following a painful defeat to Les Bleus.
On the other hand it looks like Netherlands’ supporters do not know the meaning of misery. Van Marwijk’s team have had the nations worst performance in a major competition ever, but the supporters in orange kept a stiff upper lip, and spirits remained consistently high.
While they were living the dream the mischievous Dutch fans made one Ukrainian reporter’s life a nightmare.
Most foreign fans were pleasantly surprised when they arrived in Ukraine, as the media back home had prepared them for much worse… In the end they’re delighted with the country they discovered for themselves. Friendship between Ukrainian and foreign fans can be seen everywhere, and the Euro has not only been a great time for visitors, but for locals as well.
After the group stage half the teams leave the tournament, and with them their supporters. Many Ukrainians are dreading this moment when the football carnival will start drawing to a close. But for the time being the festivities and songs in all the different languages are heard throughout streets of the host cities, and the party goes on.