And so it begins! Euro 2012 kicked off yesterday with all the hoopla and fanfare it could. The host nation, Poland, drew with Greece (1-1 and it was meant to be thrilling match). But you ask any Polish person worth their salt, this is not the match they care about. Next week is the big one. Poland vs Russia. The ultimate grudge match, it will make Iran vs USA in the World Cup seem like child’s play.
Yep, after the Second World War, and Communism, there are two big rivals when Poland plays internationals. Germany and Russia. Germany is a little more friendly. Being neighbours in the EU and the post-war reconciliation has meant that the games are fiercely contested, but there is rivalry. But with RUssia, it is personal. As one of my colleagues (Polish) told me: It does not matter if we do not win the group or if we do not make it past the group stages. The most important thing is that we beat Russia. And if we loose, then there is no sex for a week, as everyone, even the women will be in mourning. A celibate Poland is definitely not in my interest, so I do hope for Russia’s demolition by the host of Euro 2012. Good luck and Viva!
Poland has certainly been busy for the past year, getting ready for Euro 2012. I have been exceptionally fortunate (or maybe not, depending on your view) to have regularly visited Poznan and Wroclaw, two of the host cities for the Euro 2012 championship. New airports, train stations and traffic jams have been the order of the day as the infrastructure in these cities have been completely rebuilt. Much like the hype for the Olympics in the UK (espcecially London), Poland has been saturated by Euro 2012. As I am not a sports fan in particular (I find the whole thing dull as hell), I do not understand why it takes such pomp and ceremony to do basic improvements to necessary infrastructure. Still, if major sporting events act as catalysts for bribery and infrastructure improvements then who am I to complain?
To be honest, I look at Euro 2012 with bemusement. Being close to Poland, for personal (and now professional reasons) I find the coverage of Euro 2012 more interesting than normal sporting events. I do hope that Poland can do as well as they can, even though my research on the subject leads me to believe that, probably, sadly, Poland will loose when they play Russia next week. I hope not, but still, their fans are the best (I have to say that, otherwise my butt gets whooped by my better half…) and I have really enjoyed watching Poland get ready for their European party. I know there will be racist chanting and probably more. There is a lot of racism in much of Eastern Europe, and much of the area resembles Western Europe 40 years ago in terms of attitudes as well as their social and environmental make-up. Still, for want of a better reason, Viva Polska! But at the same time, oh dear, bloody, boring, football…