Almost everything in Warsaw these days has some connection to football. Matches are commented upon. Forecasts are made. Losers regretted, winners congratulated

Euro is the concept dominating our minds but for once not related to the currency and the crisis but to the European Championship in football.  

I read and hear the Polish word “kibic” (supporter) all the time. And use it as well during my lessons in Polish. I know how to express the depressing reality of the Swedish match against Ukraine. Unfortunately also how to talk about riots.

Yesterday we watched a fantastic game – in my case on TV – between Poland and Russia. My deputy Mikael Benthe who was present at the stadium told me about the almost magical atmosphere there and the joyful spirit also among the supporters following the match.

Very sad to see and hear about the riots, unfortunately not being the first time that huligans in different parts of Europe take the opportunity to add violence to what should be just happy festivities. From what I heard so far though it seems that the very numerous police force acted swiftly and decisively as they should.

Important also to remember the proportions. I am told that around 200 000 fans are present in Warsaw and yesterday perhaps 180 were captured.  Warsaw is first and foremost a city of joy and festivities, not a centre of huligans.

Concerted efforts are also made to fight racism connected to football. Last Friday I attended the inauguration of the campaign “Respect diversity. Football unites”

Among the speakers were Polish leaders like Minister for equality Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz and Deputy Foreign Minister Beata Stelmach but also prominent former football players like the Dutch legend Ruud Gullit. Very much needs to be done to fight racism, not least in sports, but it’s also encouraging to note the progress actually made. Some decades ago, the former players stated,  not much action was taken when racist incidents occurred. Now the attitudes are different – and a new generation of players emerging that simply do not tolerate racist behavior.

Back to where I started. With football itself.

I have never been able to play it myself. My sport is jogging. But to be able to watch exciting football matches every single evening like these days is just fantastic. And to see how Poland is hosting its part of the tournament with such confidence and enthusiasm is great.

I will definitely hope for Swedish miracles against England and France. But will also keep my thumbs crossed for the Polish team against the Czech republic. Euro2012 is an unforgettable experience for us all.



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