Euro 2012 Short Takes: Russian fans spoil the show
Sunday 10 June 2012
Russia's 4-1 trouncing of Czech Republic was marred by dozens of Russian fans who attacked stewards inside the stadium, with four having to go to hospital, and also racism reared its ugly head again. Online footage shows hooligans punching stewards, who had intervened in another scuffle. One was kicked while he was on the ground and there were battles outside the stadium. Anti-racism experts say they identified racist abuse and far-right Russian flags at the game in Wroclaw. The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network says Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie was targeted.
The number of caps Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas will have in his bag after today's mouthwatering Group C clash with Italy in Gdansk. Casillas will be playing opposite the man he hails as "a role model for all of us" – Italy goalkeeper and fellow World Cup winner Gianluigi Buffon.
Mourinho to make presence felt
Jose Mourinho plans to attend Spain's opening match against Italy today at the PGE Arena in Gdansk in a show of support for the Real Madrid contingent, but the Special One's presence may not be welcomed by the Barcelona players. Mourinho has had a long-running feud with Barca playmaker Xavi Hernandez, who recently said in an interview with Spain's Canal Plus TV that Barcelona's 5-0 victory over Mourinho's Madrid in December 2010 created tension in the national team. Carles Puyol was said to have helped repair the situation but he didn't travel with Spain this time due to a knee injury.
Football faithful find a new friend
Poznan, like most host cities, boasts a fan zone but they also give supporters the chance to visit another place of football worship – the "Jesus zone" set up by Father Szymon Nowicki, a sports chaplain in the diocese of Poznan, whose stock rose among the faithful when he correctly predicted striker Robert Lewandowski would score against Greece. "We just want to honour the spiritual needs of fans and enjoy the tournament with them," said Father Szymon, also a servant of KKS Lech Poznan and the Polish national team.
Danish MP loses two seats in a day
Denmark's government representative declined a VIP seat at his team's opening match against Holland yesterday. Culture Minister Uffe Elbaek decided to watch the game with other Danish fans "so I wouldn't be kidnapped by the Ukrainian government and be part of the VIP show" – a reference to jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The Danish FA didn't appreciate his stance however and denied him a seat on their chartered flight to Kharkiv.
Reality Czech expected for Greeks
Greece may have felt bullish after their unlikely recovery against Poland in vibrant Warsaw on Friday night but their next assignment will see them up against another lively "home" crowd.
The 2004 champions face the Czech Republic in Wroclaw just a few miles from the Czech border, without their two first-choice centre backs. Coach Fernando Santos will be without the suspended Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who was sent off against the Poles, and Avraam Papadopoulos, who is out of the tournament with a knee injury. Still, the Greek press were doing their bit yesterday to lift the mood of an embattled nation, for whom anything other than an early exit will be seen as a cause for celebration.
"Greece, you made our day" was the headline of GoalNews with a photo of Dimitris Salpingidis celebrating his equaliser. SportDay was also in triumphant mood, claiming: "We can go through."
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