Saturday, April 28, 2012

Euro 2012 Preparations- April

Wow, 40 days left until Euro 2012! Time for another update from eastern Ukraine.

First off, some very sad news: if you've been following local events, you probably heard about the bombings yesterday in Dnipropetrovsk (a large city about 220 km from Kharkov). 27 people were injured and so far no one knows the reason for this attack.

That event combined with political happenings (mainly involving those for and against the ex-prime minister) has created a lot of bad publicity. See this article in the Guardian: Ukraine's Chaos Threatens to Engulf Euro 2012.

But preparations go on undaunted. This giant soccer ball appeared overnight (literally, last night) in front of the train station.
The supermarkets have begun selling t-shirts ($30 USD), flags ($4), face paint ($2.50), magnets ($2-$5), flip-flops ($25), hats ($12-$25), anything with space for the logo or colored in blue and yellow.
Advertising and product promotion continue to pop up around the city:
Beer company offering a ticket giveaway
Coca Cola, an official partner, surprise, surprise

If you haven't already seen the beautiful TV promo Switch On Ukraine, watch it now. There are lots of other interesting news clips floating around YouTube, like this one: 2012 Volunteers Trained and Ready. And I stumbled across this 9 minute video made last summer by an Englishman visiting Kiev (in Russian, English subtitles).

Metro update: almost all stations are now equipped with the new signs. I even saw one sign in English ("no entry"). Most of them are in Cyrillic with transliterations in the latin alphabet. Thus Центральний ринок becomes Tsentralny Rynok instead of Central Market. So yes, it's still important to learn Ukrainian : ) or Russian.

Overall the amount of effort and hope going into these preparations is amazing, especially considering that here in Kharkov there will only be 3 matches and then...everyone goes home? I hope that Ukraine does indeed get the economic boost and good PR that it's counting on.

Last but not least, came across this website: Fanguide2012 by fans for fans. It's a work in progress but has enough info to be worth surfing through. I learned that I live in a sketchy area of town, hooray. But this actually did shock me: "UEFA EURO 2012 will be tobacco-free. A complete ban on the use, sale or promotion of tobacco will be in force in both indoor and outdoor areas of all match venues." Um, yeah. Good luck with that! But nothing about banning drinking. Maybe because that's quite impossible? Also, there are apparently $278 USD "two-person luxury tents" available for visiting Dutch fans to camp out in. That $278 could buy a lot of flip-flops and face paint! And finally, according to this official-looking but likely machine-translated website, each incoming EU fan will pass Kharkiv airport's passport control in under 20 seconds. Holy cow, that's all I can say!

Oh, and remember those manly man ads that were around town earlier this year? There's a corresponding You Tube video.

That's all for now. I'll leave you with this photo taken near the Palace of Sport. It's probably not directly related to EURO 2012 but it's relevant to soccer fans:

Please keep those in Dnipropetrovsk in your thoughts.

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