Swedish fans brave stark conditions for Euro 2012

Swedish fans brave stark conditions for Euro 2012
The Swedish team may not be the biggest draw for the neutral football fan wishing to watch a match at Euro 2012 but their fans are prepared to live in near-primitive conditions here so as to get a chance of seeing them in action.

Welcome to ‘Camp Sweden’ based on an island in the middle of the Dniepr River and where between 5-6,000 Swedish fans are expected to arrive, plonk down their sleeping bags and backpacks in an unfinished camping site and waltz off to watch the team in their opening match with co-hosts Ukraine.

However, this invasion of blonde Scandinavian hordes – arriving on foot, bike, taxi or by hitchhiking and in caravans as well – while not quite as unwelcome as a visit from their ancestors the Vikings has not elicited the warmest of welcomes from the good citizens of Kiev.

Last Wednesday the Ukrainian media went into overdrive publishing alarmist articles about the state of the camp while a local municipal councillor Olexandre Davidenko was quoted in Ukrainska Pravda as saying:

“I think the Swedes will come to regret their decision to camp there.”

Mr Davidenko’s concerns hasn’t totally fallen on deaf ears among the Swedish devotees with not even the welcoming tunes of Sweden’s finest pop export ‘Abba’ consoling some of those who alight there.

“It really isn’t great at all. There is no electricity, no hot water, not even any loo paper,” said the distinctly unhappy camper Daniel.

Daniel’s complaints are justified for while there is a surfeit of police and other security personnel patrolling the 23 hectares of the camp plainly nobody paid due care and attention to the preparations for the basic comforts of the Swedes.

There are clear signs that work had begun on the site as electric cables lie carelessly and dangerously on the ground and there are workers vans in evidence going about their business.

But public toilets are rare, and, when one does gain access, already filthy, and while water does drip from the taps of the basins it doesn’t exactly pour out.

“We were expecting better. It is a long way from meeting the standards we expect at Swedish camp sites,” said Martin, in his twenties, who came here

with three male friends for three days.

The four young men, who are each paying 20 euros a night, are more pre-occupied that because of the lack of electricity they cannot listen to their music – presumably not Abba as that is permanently blaring out from the loudspeakers – or recharge their phones.

They look even more downcast and forlorn when they realise that there is a dearth of liquid refreshment as well.

“It is three o’clock in the afternoon and they have run out of beer to sell,” said Martin’s friend Gustav.

“We are also a long way from the supermarkets.”

A little more pertinent to their immediate needs was to wash away the grime of their journey and get under basic showers – either individual roofless cabins stood on wooden planks or communal ones in outdated military tents.

There is a small pharmacy which has a selection of toiletries, some medicines and condoms although not many of the latter.

“We don’t sell many of those, there are virtually no girls,” says the salesgirl almost apologetically.

However, there are bottles aplenty on sale of anti-mosquito spray.

“It is true that in the evening with the river there are a lot of mosquitos,” said the girl.

But despite all these discomforts and lack of facilities Martin is still delighted to be there.

“Of course we are happy to be here anyway! We came for the atmosphere and

the football not for the comfort.”

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