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â€¢ Organisers tell English, Dutch, Italian fans to go to Krakow
â€¢ Krakow to be Poland’s ‘fifth host city’ with fan fest planned
Any hopes the Football Association had that England’s players would enjoy a relatively peaceful stay in Krakow during Euro 2012 have been shattered by Polish competition organisers trumpeting it as the main destination for fans to stay.
England, Holland and Italy have chosen to base themselves in the picturesque Polish city, partly on the basis that no matches are being played there. But Wojciech Folejewski, the chief operating officer of the Poland 2012 organising committee, said that it would promote Krakow as the country’s “fifth host city” and stage a fan fest for 30,000 people in a central park.
England’s base of Hotel Stary was chosen to provide a middle ground between the tabloid frenzy of Baden-Baden in Germany in 2006 and the austerity of Fabio Capello’s remote Rustenburg base in South Africa in 2010.
After the 2010 tournament there was an acknowledgement from FA executives that the England squad should be “good tourists” in Poland and the Ukraine, staying more centrally and engaging with fans and the host country. But Krakow was not expected to be chosen as a hub by the majority of England fans, given that no matches are taking place in the city.
However, Folejewski said that a major marketing campaign would try to convince English, Dutch and Italian fans to stay in the city and watch matches on big screens in a huge fan zone. “Krakow wanted to be a host city very much,” said Folejewski, speaking at the Havas Global Sports Forum in Barcelona. “They were very sad the Uefa choice was different. But Krakow has a great chance because the English, Dutch and Italian teams will train there. For sure, many fans and especially journalists will come to Krakow.
“We try to call them the fifth host city. They are preparing a big fan zone ready for something like 30,000 people, with great tourist and cultural programmes. Don’t worry about accommodation in Krakow because it’s prepared very well, and bars and so on.”
The Polish organisers have developed a website to offer English fans a personalised itinerary for their stay, including accommodation, cultural activities and entertainment â€“ all within Poland.
“I might have to be diplomatic with my words because of our partners in Ukraine, but I would always say to England fans: do come to Poland,” he said.
Folejewski said it was natural that businesses in Kiev would want to capitalise on the tournament. “Of course they are enthusiastic because it’s great business and it’s a great chance to promote. Everybody will decide whether to look at the matches on the screens or go to Ukraine. It’s a private decision.”
Folejewski conceded that the logistics of England fans finding accommodation in Ukraine could be an issue, and on Thursday David Taylor, the chief executive of Uefa’s events arm, conceded that people were being overcharged by hotels demanding three times their normal rates. There are also concerns about the ease with which English fans staying in Poland will be able to reach Ukraine.
They will face journeys of 930 miles to Donetsk, where England play France and the Ukraine, and 540 miles to Kiev, where they take on Sweden. “There are connections with planes, trains and roads,” Folejewski said. “It is not the same high quality as western countries so most of them will use the planes.”
Meanwhile, the England and Tottenham Hotspur centre-half Michael Dawson has been ruled out for the rest of the season, and effectively the European Championship, after suffering ruptured ankle ligaments. Dawson, capped four times, landed awkwardly after leaping with Chris Beardsley in Spurs’ FA Cup win over Stevenage on Wednesday night.
Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, admitted afterwards that it would be “a miracle” if the defender returned before the end of the domestic campaign and his assessment has proved accurate, with scans suggesting the 28-year-old will be out for 10 to 12 weeks.