June 14, 2012 by
Euro 2012 explodes into life
Euro 2012 has exploded into life here in Poland and Ukraine. We have had some classic matches, shock results and emotional nights for the host nations. England even managed a creditable draw against the French!
The only downside on the pitch has been the Republic of Ireland, who I am covering. The Irish national anthem can surely never have been sung with more passion than before their opening game with Croatia in Poznan. Even I was welling up and I am not Irish. Sadly, the team was outplayed by the classy Croatians and conceded three uncharacteristically soft goals in going down 3-1.
The threat of violence towards visiting black and Asian fans by right wing Polish and Ukrainian thugs has not materialised. I have had a friendly welcome in Poland and experienced no such problems when I have visited Ukraine in the past. However, British broadcasters have been warned to keep a low profile for fear of confrontation with decent Polish fans who are angry at the way the country was depicted in the Panorama programme before the tournament.
That is not to say the tournament has not been entirely trouble free. Warsaw got a bit nasty when bitter rivals Poland and Russia met in their second Group A game. There were more violent clashes when some Lech Poznan ultras sporting balaclavas turned up intent on wrecking the party atmosphere the night before Ireland played Croatia. By and large though, rival fans have mingled together and enjoyed sing songs and friendly banter in bars and town squares. Euro 2012 is actually shaping up into a bit of a classic.