Kiev prepares fan zone for Euro 2012 final
Sat, 30 Jun 2012 11:55a.m.
Preparations were being rushed to completion at the Kiev fan zone, two days ahead of the Euro 2012 final between Spain and Italy, and a day ahead of a free concert with Elton John and the rock band Queen.
Workers spent Friday bringing loads of equipment and building scaffolds in the fan zone, to supplement the stage where John will perform and to big screens that will broadcast the concert and the final match.
Though thousands of Europeans might have been deterred from visiting by adverse Western media reports, high prices for accommodation and huge distances between the four match-playing cities, the long June of non-stop street partying has brought thousands of Ukrainians together with those of Europe's football faithful who did make the long trip to a country which, 20 years after independence, is still far off the tourist track.
And fan zone organisers say the 1-kilometre stretch of the capital's Khreshatik Street that has played host has exceeded all expectations.
"We were planning for around 70,000, but as a matter of fact, we had 100-120,000, even 140,000 people, and they couldn't be comfortably accommodated. Now with the extension, we plan to comfortably accommodate 100,000 people, and if people stand, we can accommodate 150,000 or even more," said fan zone manager Sergiy Kharkov.
Kharkov said there were increasing safety in the fan zone,
"This is the first time we have had an event where the security measures are up to international standards. Security measures are exactly the same as in the stadium, which corresponds to security checks on the entrance, to the barricades that have never been installed on Khreshatik Street before, and to video surveillance, which we equipped the entire territory with. We have 64 cameras which monitor the situation in the fan zone 24-7," he said.
Despite the large numbers of foreign supporters in Kiev since June 8 - there were 20,000 Swedish fans alone in the city - few incidents, racist or otherwise, have been reported and groups of red-bereted riot police waiting in side streets in the city centre were only occasionally called to divide groups of supporters squaring off against each other.
Spain and Italy play at 1845 GMT on Sunday (July 1). Their last meeting was a 1-1 draw in their Euro 2012 Group C qualifier.
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