(WFI) The biggest fan park for Euro 2012 opened in Warsaw this evening, with thousands of revellers treated to a seven-hour concert in the Polish capital.
Covering an area of 120,000 sq/m, the fan zone close to the Palace of Culture and Science can accommodate 100,000 people.
Features include six giant screens on which all 31 matches of the tournament will be shown and two concert stages. UEFA’s eight sponsors for Euro 2012 – adidas, Canon, Carlsberg, Castrol Edge, Coca-Cola, Continental, Hyundai/Kia, McDonald’s and Sharp – have plastered their branding all over the site and around it and have attractions for fans.
Carslberg and Hyundai have draped nearby buildings in advertising featuring their star ambassadors, The carmaker’s advertisement dwarfs a rather eye-catching advert next to it – an H&M billboard adorning its store that features David Beckham in a vest.
Orange Poland, the exclusive Euro 2012 telecoms partner in the co-host nation, has used its logo and branding to dress up the Novotel located across the road from the fan zone.
Tonight, two of Poland’s leading pop singers Ania Wyszkoni and Halinka Mlynkova wowed the huge crowd that had gathered to get their first taste of the atmosphere at the much-trumpeted fan zone.
There were six other musical acts in the lineup for the concert scheduled to end at midnight.
The site is open daily throughout the June 8 to July 1 tournament.
England Players Won’t Walk Over Racist Chanting
England goalkeeper Joe Hart today told a press conference in Krakow, Poland that players “can’t take rules into our own hands” if there is an incident or racist chanting during the nation’s Euro 2012 matches.
He said it was up to the referee to handle any racist abuse from the stands or elsewhere.
“It’s down to the
referee. If the referee feels it is right for us to walk off then we will follow him,” he told reporters.
UEFA president Michel Platini yesterday warned players they will be cautioned if they storm off the field after being targeted by racists. He confirmed that the rule preventing players from leaving the pitch without the referee’s permission remains in place.
In the past week, Italy striker Mario Balotelli has said he will walk off if he is hit with racist abuse from fans in Poland or Ukraine.
UK Ministers Boycott England Matches
The British government is boycotting Euro 2012 in protest at the treatment of jailed former Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
No ministers will attend England’s opener against France on Monday in Donetsk and its other group games against Sweden and Ukraine in Kiev and Donetsk respectively.
“We are keeping attendance at later stages of the tournament under review in the light of ministers’ busy schedules ahead of the Olympics and widespread concerns about selective justice and the rule of law in Ukraine,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Other EU leaders have also threatened to stay away from the tournament over what they term are human rights abuses, including German chancellor Angela Merkel, and the presidents of France and Belgium as well as European commission chief José Manuel Barroso.
But it remains unclear if these threats will be carried out if their nations advance beyond the group stages of the tournament.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson in Warsaw
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