Royalty graced the Ernst-Happel-Stadion this evening, when Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia joined over 50,000 for the UEFA EURO 2008™ semi-final between Spain and Russia – though one Viennese embassy in particular has been deserted.
A member of the sailing team at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, Crown Prince Felipe is a keen sportsman himself and headed a large Spanish delegation in the Austrian capital this evening. Government ministers and Spanish Football Federation president Jorge Pérez Arias were among those welcomed by the country's ambassador in Vienna, Juan Manuel de Barandica, before they moved on to the stadium. Culture minister José Antonio González-Bueno, not the biggest football fan normally, said before kick-off: "We are all quite excited and hope that Spain win and then meet Germany in the final. That would be a wonderful pairing."
But across the city from the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, the Spanish embassy has been fairly deserted. Indeed, such has been the good-natured attitude of the Spanish fans in Austria over the past three weeks that the embassy are not expecting to be troubled by any extra work in the next few days. They will be on hand around the clock, however, in case people lose their passports or the like so they can still find their way home.
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