"It's fun to see a different kind of football crowd," said Ann Ekstrand from official Swedish supporters' organisation Camp Sweden as she visited a pioneering fan zone in Gothenburg.
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Fan zones have been a meeting point for supporters at major European tournaments for some time but are making their UEFA Women's EURO debut at Sweden 2013. UEFA.com gets into the spirit in Gothenburg.
There could be no more central location in Sweden's second city than in front of the Stora Teatern, right on Kungsportsavenyn. For the next few weeks, this prime Gothenburg location will be the place to go for public viewing of UEFA Women's EURO 2013 games. "This is a tournament of many firsts," explained tournament director Göran Havik. "For one thing, it is the first time that fan zones have been set up at a Women's EURO."
Food, drink, entertainment and a giant screen are all available at the Gothenburg facility, as they are in the other six fan zones in Sweden's host cities. The fan zones opened to the public for the first time on Wednesday, and while Gothenburg's quickly turned yellow and blue as crowds gathered to watch the hosts' first fixture, a substantial Danish contingent also turned out, bidding to paint the town red and white.
"There's between 1,000 and 1,500 of us here," said Jakob Lauersen, his cheeks daubed with Denmark's national colours. Fans mingled to watch the Group A opener, Finland's 0-0 draw against Italy, before marching together to Gamla Ullevi for Sweden's contest with Denmark. "It's fun to see a different kind of football crowd," said Ann Ekstrand from official Swedish supporters' organisation Camp Sweden. "Here we are seeing a lot more ladies and young people."
Sweden fan Ekstrand and Dane Lauersen both had match tickets, but the fan zones have a bigger objective, as fan zone manager Daniel Svenberg pointed out. "This is a way of bringing the football party to everyone, not just ticket holders," he explained. Waving proudly across the square, he added: "The time is absolutely right for a fan zone at a women's event – just look at how packed this place is."