Excitement in Poland but the real fans are priced out
Poland v Greece, June 8, 5pm
8 June ~ It has been 1,878 days since Michel Platini opened the envelope to announce that Poland and Ukraine would be jointly hosting Euro 2012 and now it is here. The level of interest in Poland is extraordinary, with enormous crowds at each team's open training sessions. In Krakow 25,000 came to watch Holland; Germany had 11,000 in Gdansk; and Ireland had 12,000 in Gdynia. These are higher gates than the local league teams get. The sort of people who come to an open training session do not necessarily go to the local league games every week.
These types will be the ones attending Poland's games, undermining any advantage we might have as hosts – I heard discussions on the radio about what songs to sing during games.
Real fans were priced out or put off due to a controversial card scheme which was ultimately dropped. Support for Poland used to be good and loud but there were usually troublemakers in the crowd too. Not anymore, so don’t expect to hear stories of local fan violence.
Not everything has been built as planned but only the very naïve would have believed in the ambitious infrastructure plans announced by the authorities. Some say that the race against time to complete the building work before the Euros start has been more absorbing and nail-biting than the tournament itself is likely to be. We've had daily briefings from the transport minster who uses football language to describe progress or lack of it most of the time and are almost at the point where the grass is being painted green.
Nonetheless, Poland’s team can do no wrong at the moment - everywhere you look there are cars festooned with flags. Even the French-born midfielder Ludovic Obraniak, previously accused of not trying to speak Polish, managed to murmur a couple of sentences on air which can be roughly translated as "me likey Polska, food and my colleagues". We need a win against Greece today but even that doesn't seem too important. Despite corporate monsters taking over it’s hard not to get a bit swept up in the occasion. Maciej Slominski Futbolnet.pl