EURO2008 City Scenes: Kick-Off in Austria

9 06 2008

Photo: The ‘little’ great Croatian supporter wandering in the streets of Vienna. Photo Credit: The picture was kindly provided by – see also P.S. at the end of this entry!

I guess, you would need to call this the day in recent Austrian football history, Sunday June 8, 2008. The kick-off to the European Championship took place in Switzerland the day before, but on that Sunday evening, the match Austria vs. Croatia marked the first test for the Austrian team at the Ernst-Happel-Stadium in Vienna.

Switzerland had lost the day before against Czech Republic, so would Austria – the second host nation – face the same fate? Just before 8.00 pm that evening, it turned out, yes, Austria just lost 0:1 against the clear favorites Croatia. But the Croatian fans seemed disappointed, as most of them evidently expected a much clearer result. Unlike in the afternoon, where around 7,000 fans celebrated in the city center at Stephansplatz, in front of the Cathedral; the singing, chanting and shouting continued right into the underground corridors and trains, when the ecstatic crowd made its way to the Stadium at about 4.00 pm.

In the morning, about 50,000 arrived with buses and trains in Vienna, and it was like an ocean of red -and-white checkered shirts, flags and hats that poured into the city in cheerful and peaceful spirit. Only in the mid-afternoon – around 4.00 pm then – did I notice that the underground had troubles keeping its schedule and a few minute delays were announced. When I got onto the U1 at Rennbahnweg in the north to make my way across the city home to Favoriten in the south, I realized that now the Austrian fans were making their way to the game as well.

A few stops further, two boys aged about 8 years entered the train. Sitting down next to me, their conversation was about football – given the different, colorful clothing of quite a few passengers – however, their main topic were computer games.

“Oh, I would love to be at the game tonight, if I could afford it,” one of them said before leaving the train, like lost in thoughts; but then, suddenly when exiting the underground train, they shouted their support for Croatia right across the Kaisermühlen station at the UN Center. The few Croatians that had boarded the train smiled, while some Austria supporters joking kindly that the boys need “a little spanking.”

Yet another few stops further, at Praterstern – change here for the Ernst-Happel-Stadium – three tall Swedish football supporters, young men in their late 20s, dressed in yellow shirts and beer cans in their hands, entered the train. Meanwhile, some Poland supporters also had boarded the train, wearing the most ridiculously huge red-while hats, which formed a crown on top.

The Swedish, already slightly drunk, having wished the Poland supporters the best of luck for their game – held in Klagenfurt against Germany the same evening at 8.45 pm – sat down and tried to engage with some of the younger female passengers without avail. But they got absolutely ecstatic when the U1 entered the station Schwedenplatz (lit. translated as Sweden Place), starting singing very loudly, and they pulled their mobile phone to take pictures while the train started moving again. In their enthusiasm, they almost forgot to get off at the Croatian-occupied Stephansplatz to disappear in the so-called Fanmeile supposedly for more beer. One wonders if they remember their team’s first game, Tuesday, June 10, is against Greece.

P.S.: If you are fluent in German and would like to read quality contributions to the European Championships, please follow the link to, and excellent blog that aims for a differentiated reporting about the events, incorporating political, social and economic aspects. For me as a bystander on the topic, this was an enjoyable read!




7 responses

10 06 2008
In eigener Sache: kick08 goes international! |

[…] Worte zweier Blogs besonders. Matthias Wurz von der Zeitung “The Vienna Review” empfiehlt in seinem Blog “Music & Politics in Vienna” seinen Lesern mit folgenden Worten: “If you are fluent and would like to read quality contributions to the […]

11 06 2008

This is the most adorable photo I’ve seen since EURO2008 started!
And, yes, Croatian fans were disappointed but not because of result (1:0 was enough for 3 points) – they expected higher quality level of the game itself. Croatia started aggresively but the second part of the match was… let’s just call it “disaster” for Croatian team – Austria showed much more after the break.
Once again, great blog entry ;)

11 06 2008
Matthias Wurz

Thank you for the comment!

Quite a few of the Croatian supporters interviewed here in Vienna expected their country to win decisively like 3:1 or 4:1 against Austria. It also seemed that the Croatian Team underestimated Austria as an opponent, and that’s why Austria was able to dominate the second half in particular.

In any case, we shall see who survives this group into the semi-finals, Germany is here the clear favourite…


11 06 2008

Germany, 99,99%

15 06 2008
“Cool Guy” Nick Hornby in Vienna « Music & Politics in Vienna

[…] For recent scenes of Vienna during the EURO 2008, see my other entries here in this […]

15 06 2008
EURO2008 City Scenes: Austria Survived, Just About - A Chat Review « Music & Politics in Vienna

[…] final crunch test for the Austrian team approached on Thursday, June 12, 2008. Having lost against Croatia the Sunday before (0:1, though with a strong performance in the second half), another loss would […]

19 06 2008

It seems we were wrong… (apologize to Slaven Bilic :)

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