The seats around me are taken by gentlemen in UEFA-labeled suits discussing something. I see a large photo of the packed stadium on the cover of a local newspaper handed to me by the stewards. Not more than 30 minutes ago, just before boarding, the 3 ladies from the airport crew were talking about the chances of the Dutch in a match against Denmark, which had just started.
I think that the question “So, did you see the match?” is the most popular conversation starter this weekend. I heard it from both of the taxi drivers that were driving me today, the receptionist and the security guard from my hotel, the bartender pouring me a beer at a pub… Not to mention the thousands of dressed up people on the streets. You could say that Warsaw is all about football these days.
I’m not an ultra-fan of football, a “Picnic” as some call people like me, I mainly watch the matches of the national team on TV. So when Orange invited me to attend the opening match of UEFA Euro 2012 on the National Stadium in Warsaw, I just couldn’t say “no”. I had a great time and everyone should witness an event like this at least once in their life.
The National Stadium in Warsaw made a great impression on me. Even 2 hours before kick-off, when lots of seats were still empty, the first view was impressive. And with every new fan entering the stadium – some of them still soaked to the skin after the unexpected heavy rain – the excitement was even bigger. Dressed up people were taking photos, singing and shouting while waiting for the match to begin.
The security controls at the entrances were rather smooth; I didn’t notice any problems or any needs for stronger reactions from the security. There were many stewards and volunteers at the ground doing their best to help the crowds. Even if they didn’t know the answer to all the questions they tried to make it up with a smile and give as much info as they could. The one “glitch” I could name, was the waiting time at the food stands – the queues weren’t really that long and it should go faster.
And then the opening ceremony started. 10 minutes of a dynamic show with almost 800 dancers from nearly 60 countries. Chopin music in both the classical and modern arrangement. And the awesome effect of 16 flags of all of the countries playing in the tournament formed from colorful pieces of paper by the people in the stadium. Wow. I was sitting next to a fellow blogger from UK who was also invited by Orange, and after the ceremony he said to me: “I’ve been at many other football stadiums before and I must say that what I saw was spectacular. You can be really proud of it”. And I think that it’s the best recommendation I could hear about the match.
And the atmosphere at the stadium was simply great throughout the whole game! Hearing the anthem sung with an enormous enthusiasm by nearly 55 thousand people was an awesome experience. Most of the crowd was all in white and red, the Polish national colors, however the two sections with Greeks were also heard, colorful, dressed up and all having fun at the same time !