So now finally, the inevitable has happened. The long-awaited competition jointly hosted by Poland and the Ukraine has come to an end, the teams and fans and the organisers have all gone home, that is those who weren’t home in the first place.
What conclusions can we draw from this competition? For each of us no doubt the conclusions will be unique and personal, but some of the ones I have reached are as follows:
1. England has in fact got a very good football team, however we do need for them to learn a few games other than football, especially the one involving the goalkeeper simply trying to save a ball which somebody’s kicking into the net from point blank range. It would appear impossible to win a football tournament without knowing the other game also. It seems tantamount to having a chess competition in which one grandmaster, unable to do more than stalemate the other grandmaster, suggests a game of draughts in order to decide the competition.
2. The organisations which are responsible for arranging these competitions have turned into huge molochs whose every whim must be obeyed even by the state servants who are paid out of everybody’s taxes, and also by elected politicians. People seem so desperate for their cities to be hosts to these huge competition is that normal democratic considerations – as in does anybody actually want this – are swept aside, and the people of the place put to amazing inconvenience in order to be able to host these events. Nobody seems to be in a position to present a business plan that shows whether a place is likely to be better or worse off for hosting an event. Also UEFA were able to stop people filming in public places as well as block routes to and from work for people.
3. The conception of Poland in the Western part of the EU wasn’t necessarily helped by being twinned-up with a CIS nation in order to run the show. The Ukraine got to host 17 of the 33 matches, a slight majority, as they had the final in Kiev, or Kyiv as they insisted on spelling it on the boardings around the pitch, like we didn’t already have a perfectly serviceable word for the place in English. There was no difference in quality of broadcasting and filming at all in the various game locations, and the camera work and cutting were of the highest quality I’ve ever seen. However, Poland played host to thirteen of the sixteen teams. One of the three teams in the Ukraine was of course the Ukraine itself as indeed one of the teams to choose Poland was Poland itself, so effectively Poland quartered 12/14 of the visiting teams and 5/7 of the visiting teams whose matches were played in the first part all in the Ukraine. This included England of course, who were based in Nowa Huta, an unlikely destination as that place has Stalin nostalgist tours running to it out of Krakow to show what communism used to look like. The destinations chosen by visting teams really seem to have done their utmost to welcome them and whole towns in Poland have been decked out in colours of such countries as Greece, Portugal or Italy. The hotels where the teams stayed have been inundated with post-tournament accommodation requests, with holidaymakers willing to pay top zloty to be in the room where their favorite football star stayed for the tournament.
4. Mr Platini who is the UEFA top brass had a lot of praise for Poland and said that this tournament had set the standard that everyone from now on would have to measure up to. He had great praise for the hospitality in Poland. He called the Ukrainian hoteliers “crooks and robbers” for upping their prices during the tournament, which seems to be a fine case of double standards seeing how official merchandise from his own UEFA is much more expensive than unbranded merchandise of the same quality. Ecuadorian Radio Sports Commentator Alan Heath went on record saying how he was glad to see that a man like Platini, making several millions of EURO, could still find the time to criticize ordinary men and women who were trying hard to scrape together an existence.
5. Platini has also caused controversy since the tournament by suggesting that instead of countries winning and then appointing cities, individual cities, 12 or 13 of them from around Europe, will each bid to host some matches. The potential for bribery and corruption given that way of doing this will escalate tremendously, and so my congratulations go to Mr Platini’s personal advisers for dreaming up that one for their client. That’s real thinking outside the box.
6. It seems that if you want a road built in Poland, you need to wait for twenty years waiting for it and driving on overcrowded back roads with your life in your hands, and then when a football tournament comes along suddenly it will all magically be finished on schedule.
7. Polish people really care about whether they look good in the eyes of people from other countries. The Ukrainians were much less worried about that and just expected people to take them as they found them.
8. The police in this country are quite clever and capable of handling a situation with balance and without undue provocation, while putting the right amount of resource on the street.
9. International media are only interested in stories about yobbery and violence among fans, and immediately put out with relish the few such scenes that occured in Poland. They had very little to say about the 99.9% of the interactions of strangers on the streets in Warsaw, which were friendly and cordial, and frequently ended in sexual intercourse, if what I noticed is anything to go by. I don’t see the international news networks reporting on that. Likewise there were all these reports about likely racial abuse from Polish fans, whereas in fact there were no such incidents. Will the networks now kindly offer Poland an apology?
10. I still don’t understand the offside rule, and often get the impression that people make up the rules of football as they go along. Some goals that were disallowed, some things that were fouls and didn’t look like it or which were not fouls when they did – all of this adds to the impenetrable mystique of this game.
If you’d like to see my full coverage on film of the impact of EURO 2012 on Warsaw, please look up the EUROWARS series on http://www.youtube.com/usenetposts. In due course they’ll also be up on here as their own category.
- Platini hails Euro 2012 (iol.co.za)
- Platini suggests Euro 2020 may be held across Europe (panarmenian.net)
- Shake-up planned for Euro 2020 (3news.co.nz)
- Euro 2012: Michel Platini will sour a winning formula with ill-conceived Euro 2020 plans (telegraph.co.uk)
- FA tell Platini of fears over racist violence at finals (thisislondon.co.uk)
- Uefa president Michel Platini warns ‘Mr Balotelli’ about leaving pitch over racism during Euro 2012 (independent.co.uk)
- Euro 2012: Michel Platini warns of bookings for racism protest players (guardian.co.uk)
- Platini floats idea of multi-country Euro 2020 (thehimalayantimes.com)
- Platini hails Euro 2012 a success (todayonline.com)