Hi all, Not had time to post recently, the end of term at university and lots of other things on my plate. However I’m pretty much free from now on, so will be trying to update this regularly.
Where to start regarding what’s been happening recently re the Euros? When last we met I regaled you with the story of ‘the clown’ ex-Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski who refused to support the Polish National team due to their recruitment of ‘mercenaries’ from other countries to put on the Polish red and white.
Well his saga didn’t end there. Several days ago Tomaszewski was kicked out of the political party he’s an MP for due to his controversial comments. After leaving the party, he told the assembled media that Jaroslaw Kaczynski, his party leader and head of the largest political opposition in Poland (and whose brother ex-president Lech died two years ago in a tragic plane crash in Russia with 95 other Polish dignitaries http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8612825.stm) didn’t know anything about football. Hopefully he’ll continue to make daft comments from the sidelines during the tournament despite this personal setback.
In other news, we’re eleven days from the big kick-off and there have been almost too many stories to keep track of. We’ve seen the city awash with adverts and billboards. Including this monstrosity put up on the side of a major Warsaw city centre hotel http://www.flickr.com/photos/punxutawneyphil/7106850481/ a move which has drawn massive criticism. Coca-cola has outdone themselves on the advert front with a campaign http://media2.pl/g/600/24031.jpg encouraging people to go ‘Football crazy!’. I’m not the biggest fan of corporate sponsorship and this campaign is particularly wacky in the worst possible way.
There’s also been a lot of controversy over certain groups’ attempts to scupper the tournament by demonstrating against government reforms. The largest Trade Union Solidarity, yes the same one which brought down Communism in Poland in 1989 and brought us the wonderful moustachioed revolutionary Lech Walesa, is trying to bring down the current centre-right governments’ pension reforms and has been considering strike action during the tournament. A recent poll underlined that this step would be deeply unpopular amongst the Polish people with over 70% opposing industrial action during the festivities http://www.gadu-gadu.pl/polacy-nie-chca-strajkow-na-euro-2012
Other kinds of planned protest have been heavily criticised, one linked to the crash which killed Lech Kaczynski which I referred to earlier. Lech met his maker on April 10 2010 and his party PiS are planning a march on June 10, two days after the start of the tournament (yes those famous 26 month anniversaries- what’s the gift for that? Copper?). These PiS marches are glorious parades of anger and bitterness, revolving around their, rather madcap, belief that Donald Tusk, the Polish Prime Minister and Vlad ‘the bad’ Putin got together to plan the murder of Lech and the others who died in Smolensk two years ago . The parade will take place next to the Polish Presidential palace. The catch here is that the Russian national team have chosen as their base the luxurious Hotel Bristol, several metres away from the palace. Many are worried there will be clashes between the protesters and the Russian team’s minders. Maybe this’ll be the spark that kicks off another Polish-Russian war. Here’s hoping no-one dies. We also get the pleasure of the two ancient enemies facing each other on June 12 – yay!
Poles have also been rather irked at the lovely Sol Campbell’s prediction that ethnic minorities could ‘end up in a coffin’ if they make the trip to these shores due to the high level of racism in Poland and Ukraine http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18192375. Oh and the two countries also didn’t deserve the tournament apparently according to our Sol. Many Poles have quite rightly pointed out that Britain’s record with footballing racism and hooliganism isn’t the best. Let’s hope Sol is very wrong.
So it’s all building up nicely for what should be a great tournament. I expect things will get more and more intense here over the next 11 days. And I’ll be here going football crazy as the country no doubt explodes in a febrile mix of excitement and mass paranoia. Be there with me.