Football connecting people: Euro arrives to Poznan
I remember the moment when I first got to know that Poland would organize the UEFA Euro Tournament in 2012. I was extremely happy about that along with all Polish people. Then during the following years it appeared that it was not such an easy job. We had a lot of delays with building highways and the preparation of the whole infrastructure (only stations were ready long before the event). Furthermore, when I realized how much Poznan and all my life could be paralyzed when all these people from Spain, Ireland, Croatia and Italy would come to my city, I was not so happy anymore. I mean it is good to watch the match on TV but I also need to work, right? And while watching the preparations of this event I was pretty sure that it would be very difficult. I had visions where I was losing important meetings etc. because of the traffic in the city and which would affect my organization Horyzonty. In fact, we needed to change the dates of one project because of Euro which actually proved to be a very good decision. When we didn't change the dates for another project we could not get any catering for our participants and we needed to order pizza to the City Hall. So the day before the arrival of those hordes of fans to Poznan I was not happy at all...
Fortunately all my prejudices and predictions did not meet the reality. I was working quite normally, trams and buses went according to the schedule and they were not crowded much more than usually. Instead, thanks to the Euro I experienced the biggest non-stopping carnival in my city. It was really amazing to watch all those colorful people, Polish, Irish, Spanish, Croatian and Italians who were getting closer to each other every day. With this mixture of languages, clothes, and different behaviours I felt like I was in Paris or Rome. What stroke me down was that everybody was so open and friendly, even fans of opposing teams like Irish-Croatian couples (did they meet here?).
According to the police, there was no serious turmoil during the whole time our guests spent in our city. Irish fans made the biggest impression on Poznan people. During these couple of days they spent with us, a true sense of being together has been created. Only on the first day I was surprised that fans were singing Polish fan songs like "Polska Bialo Czerwoni" walking around the city with our national flags painted on their faces (the same applies to Polish people dressing from top to bottom in green). I also admired their sense of humour and how much they supported their team even when they had lost everything. After their first match with Croatia which they lost I asked one Irish: “You'll never beat the Irish eh?” - (You'll never beat the Irish was their official song for EURO). And he answered: “Yes, unless you are Croatian”. Another day I learned that my name in Irish is pronounced almost the same. There were several cases of people who after going back to Ireland had changed their holiday plans and return to Poland with their whole families.
The only thing I could complain about was the lack of gender balance (obviously fans where mainly men). But perhaps it is a sign that my next visit should be on a green island!
Newsmail Journalist and Researcher