The EURO2008 Revisited in Odessa

27 06 2008

Pictures to follow for this entry shortly!

As Vienna prepares for the Finale of the EURO 2008  – a Football classic Germany vs. Spain – I am enjoying those days far away in the city of Odessa, Ukraine. As my home city prepares yet again for another stream of fans pouring into the city for this coming weekend – presumably at least another 200,000 German and Spanish fans – I had a chance to witness how the EURO 2008 is followed in a country not taking part – the Ukraine.

Naturally, the semi-finale between Turkey and Germany was moderately followed, as the Turkish citizens living and working here made their way home to watch and see their team lose. The game Russia vs. Spain was a different matter in the Russian-spoken Odessa, as Russia has strong support in these parts of the country. So, Douglas, the Irish photojournalist I met here in those days, and I decided to watch the final half-hour after a grand night out at the opera, and treat each other to a double-pack of entertainment.  Read the rest of this entry »

EURO2008 City Scenes: Turkey’s ‘Miracle’, the Dutch Determination and Austria’s Farewell

17 06 2008

Photo: Turkish Fans: Disappointment followed euphoria after a breathtaking finish against Czech Republic, ending 3:2 on June 15 in Geneva.

Although Turkey played so far only in Switzerland, the Turkish community in Vienna certainly followed with great excitement the games. I live in Vienna’s 10th district, Favoriten, which has a more substantial Turkish minority: Of the approx. 170,000 inhabitants here – this is Vienna’s most-populated district – 3.9 % are Turkish (the foreign citizens are overall about 20% here).

So, for most of the match on June 15, the Czech Republic clearly led the game and goals, 2:0, and so when I left my apartment at about 10.00 pm, I was sure that this won’t change. I began to realize that I possibly lose another prediction – I was betting that Turkey would reach the quarter-finale.

The world was a quite a different one 30 to 40 minutes later: I took a short walk around Stephansplatz when I made my way back down to the underground U 1, where the security staff received their final orders: “The match just finished – we stay here in the station. That are our orders,” their supervisor instructed the 5 somewhat youngish men, wearing yellow security vests. I was confused: Was there a match in Vienna that night? No. But then the result of the match Turkey vs. Czech Republic appeared on the TV monitors showed the final result – where did those three goals come from?
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EURO2008 City Scenes: How Many Guests Expected?

4 06 2008

Last Sunday, when traveling on the underground U1 towards Leopoldau, I happen to sit next to a young Viennese family – a couple in their mid-30s and their son of about 10 years of age. I was reading the weekend edition of Der Standard, and paid no attention to their conversation.

However, when reaching the stop Praterstern, the conversation inevitable turned to football and the upcoming European Championships. Last but not least, at Praterstern, the U1 meets the newly extended underground line U2, which goes right up to Ernst-Happel-Stadium, where on June 29, the decision on the new European Champion will be decided. I was not left with any choice: I stopped reading my paper and followed the arguments. Read the rest of this entry »

“Cool Guy” Nick Hornby in Vienna

26 11 2007

Slideshow: Some impressions from the Gala for Nick Hornby at the Rathaus in Vienna, November 2007. Copyright: Matthias Wurz

“We are proud to devote the City Hall to literature,” declared Councilor for Cultural Affairs, Andreas Mailath-Pokorny to packed audience at the Buchwoche (Book Week) on Nov. 18, 2007. Nick Hornby, the author of Fever Pitch (1992) – his first novel landed him a huge success – was celebrated like a pop star in Vienna.

The selection of this year’s title for Eine Stadt. Ein Buch, therefore, was a calculated marketing event by Mayor Michael Häupl and the publisher Echo, as it tells the author’s life story from the perspective of – in Hornby’s words –“significant football events.”

In 2008, Vienna co-hosts the European Football Championship EURO 2008, and therefore it was no surprise to find Hornby’s book distributed this year. 100,000 copies were given away for free to Viennese readers. Previous writers included Toni Morrison, Frederic Morton and Imre Kertesz.

N.B.: For recent scenes of Vienna during the EURO 2008, see my other entries here in this blog!

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