EURO2008 City Scenes: Turkey, It’s Party Time! Behold the ‘Russian Revolution’!

25 06 2008

Photos: Party Scenes of Turkey supporters in Ottakring district, Vienna, on June 20 – 21, 2008. Pictures kindly provided by Dominik Gubi.

A breathtaking game, possibly the highlight seen so far in the European Football Championship this year, was the match Croatia vs. Turkey on June 20, at the Ernst-Happel-Stadium in Vienna. A game that challenged the 4,000 police oficers in the Austrian capital, because both countries have a considerable minority, besides about 200,000 fans stormed the ciry that day. Melting point of both, indeed was Vienna’s 16th district Ottaking, and some riots broke out after the game, procoked by Croatian supporters, who seemed certain to have won the semi-finale qualification with their goal in the 119th minute. But the rapid response from the Turkish team – we should remember Turkey vs. Czech Republic a few days earlier – brought the equalizer, and the following shoot-out, in which the Turkish team had stronger nerves.

As a few days later in the game between Russia vs. Netherlands, again the stronger team and favourites to win, were eliminated: the Netherlands on June 21 in Basel, Switzerland. I am dissapointed about the departure of the Netherlands, but I am excited about Russia’s success, as this is the first serious showing of the Russian national team in an international competition since fall of Communism.

I remember well, when Turkey, yet again on June 20, turned a game around in seconds, and even the streets near my home went absolutely crazy until 2.00 and 3.00 am. The music went up loudly after the Turkish triumph, and the car horns kept sounding for hours. No sleep for those of us, who were not directly involved.

But a few days ahead of the game, I wandered about in Favoriten, my home district, to collect a few impressions of the games, and the upcoming friendly rivalry between Croatia and Turkey. Just off the underground station U1 Keplerplatz on the pedestrianized Favoritenstrasse, I passed the local ‘institution’, Danas Imbiss (or also known as Danas Hütte), a local Würstelstand (a Viennese version of a Hot Dog stand). The proud owner, a middle-aged Polish lady with long blond hair who runs this facility already for decades, did not hide her Austrian, as well as Polish patriotism with her strong accent. However, in front of a journalist, she would not want to comment, and my enquiry was viewed with suspicious eyes by the clientel consuming beer and hefty Viennese sausages.

Elderly, far-right Austrians are among her core customers, and for those, she has provided a small LCD screen to watch the EURO games. Until Poland’s departure, however, she wore an apron with the Polish eagle on a white background. Under the two large, green parasols with tables and chairs, however, were the Austrian flags affixed.

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