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Fan zones soak up UEFA EURO 2012 action

Published: Wednesday 20 June 2012, 16.10CET
The fan zones in the eight UEFA EURO 2012 host cities have drawn some massive crowds, with over 4 million fans from around the world enjoying creating history together.
by Jim Wirth
from Warsaw

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Published: Wednesday 20 June 2012, 16.10CET

Fan zones soak up UEFA EURO 2012 action

The fan zones in the eight UEFA EURO 2012 host cities have drawn some massive crowds, with over 4 million fans from around the world enjoying creating history together.

More than 4 million supporters have attended matches at the UEFA EURO 2012 fan zones in the eight host cities, with central locations and fabulous entertainment programmes inviting fans from all nations to gather together in a safe environment to enjoy watching the group stage games on big screens. Sponsors love them, fans love them: see why with this whistle-stop tour around the fan zones.

Donetsk
Location: Sherbakova Park
Total attendance: 200,000
The fan zone near the old Shakhtar Stadium boasted an incredible 80,000 visitors on 11 June, when England played France before Ukraine took on Sweden. That night, 51 kegs of Carlsberg beer were drunk: "This is an absolute record among the host cities," fan zone director Igor Martynov said with pride. Some kind of endurance record was also set at the same fan zone, with 18,000 supporters refusing to leave despite the massive storm that struck the city at the start of France's 2-0 win against the co-hosts, causing the match to be suspended for 58 minutes. "There was no time to hide," Ukraine fan Vladimir told UEFA.com. "So I just walked to the nearest tent and ordered a beer. I knew it was not safe to hide under a tree during that kind of a storm, so I just stood under the open sky."

Gdansk
Location: Plac Zebrań Ludowych (People's Meeting Square)
Total attendance: 260,000
A performance from US hip-hop star Pitbull launched the fan zone, ahead of Poland's tournament opening fixture against Greece, with former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher billed to appear on 20 June. Some 48,000 watched the co-hosts' 1-0 defeat by the Czech Republic at the same venue and it has remained popular throughout the finals, benefiting from its relative proximity to the Arena Gdansk. Ali Farhat, a 27-year-old Parisian, was particularly impressed by the Gdansk facilities, saying: "Everything has been well organised. I've been to fan zones at previous EUROs and World Cups, and Gdansk matched those all the way."

Kharkiv
Location: Ploshcha Svobody (Freedom Square)
Total attendance: 600,000
Situated bang in the centre of the city, in one of the largest squares in Europe, Kharkiv's fan zone has profited from themed days, such as a circus festival, Netherlands day and Ukrainian cuisine day. Kharkiv Zoo's footballing Nostradamus, Fred the Ferret, has been in attendance every day too, attempting to predict football results (at last count he had guessed nine out of 20 correctly), while a stunning 160,000 supporters flocked to the fan zone on 13 June for the Portugal v Denmark, and Netherlands v Germany matches. Newly married couples have also made pilgrimages to the fan zone for wedding photos, with Dmytro and Iryna saying: "We simply couldn't have missed such a great opportunity. The fan zone is very beautiful and not many couples have a chance to get a photo in a place like this."

Kyiv
Location: Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square)
Total attendance: 1,190,000
On 11 June, 160,000 supporters descended on the capital's fan zone to watch England's game against France and then Ukraine's 2-1 win over Sweden, with the facility extended all the way to Bessarabka Square for the final round of Group D fixtures. Concerts, contests and competitions helped swell the attendance, as did the presence of Funytk the Pig, another emissary from the animal kingdom called in to predict the results of matches each day at 15.00CET. "We always come here with friends because every day there is something new," said Sweden fan Ulle. "The best ones were the body art festival and the day there were master classes on cooking Ukrainian national dishes. We cooked 'varenyky' – it was very funny."

Lviv
Location: Prospekt Svobody (Freedom Avenue)
Total attendance: 465,000
Right at the heart of the UNESCO-protected city centre, Lviv's fan zone has been the focal point for fan activity in the town. Its capacity is just 27,000, but an incredible 100,000 passed through its doors on 17 June, when Portugal played the Netherlands and Germany took on Denmark. Sponsor-led competitions and activities, including singing, dancing, football quizzes and freestyling, have helped keep spirits high. Solomia Koronenko, one of the directors of tournament activities in the city, said: "Lviv is the cultural capital of Ukraine, so the fan zone had to be of a high standard." The Crown Prince of Denmark was one of the notable VIPs to experience the fan zone, yet locals enjoyed it too, with one Ukraine supporter from nearby Ternopil saying: "It is incredible here. I never would have believed it would be so cool. I've come more than 150km to get here and I'm glad I did."

Poznan
Location: Plac Wolnosci (Freedom Square)
Total attendance: 333,000
In Poznan, UEFA EURO 2012 will be remembered as much for the Irish and Croatian fans that flooded in to the city as for the football, with the fan zone proving a major draw despite the wealth of other places to eat, drink and relax in this quietly beautiful city. Plenty of musical turns helped keep things busy, while a junior zone catered for younger supporters and sponsors ensured there were plenty of activities to suit everyone. What supporters will look back on is the friendly atmosphere in Freedom Square, even though the Irish and Croatians did not have reason to stay in Poland and Ukraine beyond the group stage. On the final matchday in the city, volunteers in the fan zone erected a sign bearing the words: "Fans of Croatia, Ireland and Italy: You are great." Indeed they were, and Poznan made them welcome.

Warsaw
Location: Plac Defilad (Parade Square)
Total attendance: 820,000
The largest and perhaps loudest of the UEFA EURO 2012 fan zones, Warsaw registered an attendance of 160,000 for the opening day of matches, with all subsequent Poland games bringing well over 100,000 locals and visitors into Parade Square, in the shadow of the capital's imposing Palace of Culture and Science. Seven giant screens enabled fans to keep in touch with the action, though it was definitely standing room only whenever the co-hosts were in action. While Warsaw has not seen the huge numbers of foreign fans noted elsewhere, locals have taken the fan zone to their hearts, and tellingly Franciszek Smuda's side chose to say their farewells to supporters here after their elimination from the tournament. Another massive crowd greeted their arrival with chants of "Thank you, thank you", "We are with you, Poland, we are with you" and "Poland, white and red".

Wroclaw
Location: Plac Rynek (Market Square)
Total attendance: 373,000
Wroclaw's location close to the border ensured 90,000 were at the fan zone on the day the Czech Republic met Poland in the city, with Czech fans taking the train to share in the excitement of UEFA EURO 2012. Greek and Russian supporters also turned up in decent numbers as the daily entertainment on offer in the fan zone proved to be as much of a draw as the excellent weather. The fan zone will stay open until the end of the championship – and Wroclaw knows that it has helped to advertise the city worldwide. "During the EURO, Wroclaw has been colourful, loud and very friendly," said local fan Dawid. "The EURO atmosphere engulfed the city and the atmosphere in the fan zone during Poland's matches was incredible."

All attendance figures are approximate.

Last updated: 05/12/13 4.38CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1827453.html#fan+zones+soak+uefa+euro+2012+action

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