The draw for next year’s European football championships, hosted by Ukraine and Poland, will take place in Kyiv today and two host cities will be watching the event with particular interest.
Holland are one of the top-seeds in today’s draw and they’ll play their first three matches in either the Polish port of Gdansk or the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Along with the Dutch stars, a massive legion of orange-clad fans are set to arrive, injecting a party atmosphere and millions in additional revenue into the local community.
The Bern experience
Dutch fans left a distinctly positive impression on Bern, one of the host cities of UEFA Euro 2008. “They were a joy to behold back then, all dressed in orange, wearing wooden clogs and incessantly singing and drinking,” a blogger wrote at the time.
[media:image1]Tens of thousands of “crazy Dutch fans” flocked to the Swiss capital in the summer of 2008 to paint the town orange and have a good time. And they spent lots of money on taxis, hotels, restaurants, merchandising and local taxes. The entire community benefited from the orange invasion and both Gdansk and Kharkiv are now hoping to become “a new Bern”.
Dutch prefer Gdansk
“A large majority of our members would prefer Gdansk,” Rob Polderman, spokesman for the Oranje Supporters Club told BNR Nieuwsradio.
“Simply because it’s much closer. Gdansk is 1100 km from Utrecht, which means you can drive there in one day. Kharkiv is more than double that distance, so you’ll need to fly.”
[media:image2]But he adds: “Of course, distance doesn’t matter to the real die-hards, and there are quite a few of them, because the further away, the easier it will be to get tickets for the match.”
Apart from keen anticipation, there is some concern in Gdansk and Kharkiv too, as England and Holland might be drawn in the same group. The Polish authorities, however, say they are prepared to deal with any trouble rowdy fans might cause.
Scheduled at 18:00 CET, the draw at the Palace of Arts will be broadcast live in many participating nations, including the Netherlands.
The competition begins in the Polish capital Warsaw on 8 June with the final in Kyiv on 1 July.