Euro 2008: The Final

A few pictures from the build-up to the final last night here in Vienna.

Another wild afternoon in Vienna dominated by the Spanish. Although it seems as though Spain have had more matches here in Vienna than other teams, I did get the impression that their fans were the most lively, the most gregarious, and generally the most fun. They took over Kaertnerstrasse, Stephansplatz, and the Graben the whole afternoon with their chanting, singing, and humourously drunken shenanigans, creating a pleasant festival atmosphere. And, perhaps strangely, virtually all the attractive women were either Spanish or Spain fans…


QED.

As on previous occasions there were hundreds of fans on Kaertnerstrasse, drinking, chanting, singing, and kicking a football high up into the air, often ricocheting off the sides of the adjacent buildings. Here’s one chap doing the honors at Stephansplatz; amazingly, it seemed as though virtually no-one was surprised by an unseen incoming football. On its way up a chorus of rising “whoooaaa!” would alert people below, and as it descended half a dozen or so fists would surge up to punch the ball on its way. Here’s another launch on Kaertnerstrasse.

This poor guy was an unfortunate exception: he was standing there, minding his own business, chatting on the phone and sipping his beer, when the ball cannoned into him sending his beer geysering into the sky. He laughed in surprise—but kept talking to his buddy on the phone—while someone next to him grabbed his hand and finished the job of splashing the beer around, while the crowd contributed by rising chants of “Yo soi espanol! Yo soi espanol!”

Even the police were included in the festivities…

The Spaniards seemed to have all the fun… And this guy was enjoying himself too: he was standing on the Pestsaeule, the monument dedicated to the victims of the plague, dressed in nothing but a Spanish flag, making an enthusiastic racket with a plastic coke bottle filled with gravel and singing what looked like mirthfully lewd songs. Even groups of Germans stopped and gazed in a sort of incredulous admiration.

The wear-nothing-but-your-flag fashion caught on pretty quickly. Even my friend was excited. Even those demure Muslim girls were moved to get into the action, if more modestly.

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