Thursday, 28 June 2012

Football goes home

Well, that's it for Poland as host nation - the last match in the Euro 2012 was played in Warsaw tonight, an event that even for someone with absolutely zero interest in football (or indeed any spectator sport) was tinged in sadness at its ending. For playing host to the championships has proved a huge civilising step - not only in the delivery of sports, transport and hospitality infrastructure - but in those intangible changes in mindset that such events engender.

Above: floral rainbow, consisting of 16,000 artificial flowers, spanning the middle of Pl. Z(a)bawiciela. Tolerance, man. Will this structure become a permanent part of Warsaw, like the palm tree on Rondo de Gaulle'a? What will happen after the pigments in the plastic flowers start to fade? Replace or remove?

Above: with the sun in the north-west, a view of Pl. Z(a)bawiciela with the floral rainbow. To my eye - not too bad a composition. What do you think, dear reader?

Left: This German fan encapsulates all that's best in the tournament. Friendly, non- aggressive, patriotic but not chauvinistic - here for the football and the beer.

I guess everyone (including the Financial Times) expected a German victory tonight and a German victory in Kiev. It's a shame that Poland didn't get to host the final, still, there's not been any vocal criticism of Ukraine's role in the championship other than rip-off prices (by Ukrainian standards).

Right: Italian fan, across the road from the stadium. While I've not watched a moment of the football, I must say it was worth it, the nay-sayers were proved wrong, and on balance Euro 2012 has served to propel Poland forward in development by three to five years.

Other than some unsavory scenes after the Poland-Russia match in Warsaw, the whole show went by relatively peacefully. This is in part the result of good planning and coordinated intelligence gathering, based on (I can now reveal) the monitoring of mobile phone conversations between rival groups of hooligans trying to arrange a time and place for pitched battles.

The Polish media will labour this point, but going back to late 2007, there were many voices of woe saying it will be a disaster, it will never happen, Poland will be compromised and embarrassed. Have a little faith!

Time to mark a more personal moment - today my parents celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Hip-hip, hurray! Sto lat, Babcia Marysia and Dziadzio Bohdan!

This time last year:
Birds of Omen

This time two years ago:
Yes, it does matter who you vote for

This time three years ago:
Poland could do with some more mountains

This time four years ago:
Warmth of the Sun
- the Beach Boys and Noctilucence

This time five years ago:
Polish roads that look like America


Chris said...

But wait, isn't this "beer glass" a plastic disposable one, or three plastic ones put together?

Unknown said...

Michael - well said. Overall the event was a positive one. The initial hysteria about wars among the 'kibols' never came to fruition. Seems as though the only significant issues related to our 'czerwony friends' to the north east but I would expect that.

I hope that many lessons were learned by Poles as well as by visitors and are continued forward; it will make Poland a better place. I believe the view of Poland was very positive and actually have not heard of any significant complaints.

Yes, I do hope the infrastructure efforts keep moving forward and look forward to seeing the S2 completed by the Olympic games in Poland in 2024!

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Chris

You're right - it's two plastic glasses nested into one another - I shall edit the text so as not to besmirch the honour of this charming gentleman!

@ Unknown

And indeed the next FIFA World Cup :)

Unknown said...

Hi Michael - the 'unknown was me'. Need to figure out how to put my sig. on it.


Michael Dembinski said...

The poll is now closed.

For keeping the Rainbow:

For removing the Rainbow:

Don't care one way or the other: