Kris Fernandes is a FIFA accredited freelance writer based in Toronto. He has been actively involved in spreading the love of the beautiful game in Canada and abroad for several years through administration, media coverage and coaching. He also covered the 2006 FIFA World Cup live for CBCSports.ca with the popular journal series, "A Canadian in Germany". Contact Kris at firstname.lastname@example.org
VIENNA — Ever since visiting here four years ago, Vienna immediately won a place in my heart.
It has become my favourite city in all of Europe because of its impeccable hospitality, clean streets, incredible architecture, and its overwhelming charm. Needless to say, I was more than thrilled when UEFA announced that the Euro final would take place here.
Walking around here you see that every building, from coffee shops to city monuments, all have a unique touch to them. Adidas, yet again, kept their brand image highly visible with a remarkable series of oversized boots (cleats) representing each nation outside of a main square. Each are about the size of a small car and some have some pretty amazing paint jobs.
Thursday was spent watching the large Polish contingent here bitterly drink themselves into a coma after dropping two huge points in a 1-1 draw with Austria due to a last minute penalty goal. The home supporters were more than thrilled to have taken a point, as there was no expectation for the team to perform well. Actually, before the tournament, a group of idiotic 'fans' started a petition to oust the national squad from the tournament because they were so bad.
Friday night in the city was incredible as everyone packed the fan zones to watch the key matchups in Group C.
The fan zones here feature 10 giant screens and fit in over 70,000 people. The array of lights beaming from every adjoining building is spectacular to say the least, and the selection of international cuisine available inside rivals that of any food festival I have ever been to.
Watching Italy draw Romania was shocking. Despite that devastating 3-0 loss to Holland earlier, most Italians I ran into before this match were quite positive, believing their team would thump Romania and send a strong message to France for their encounter on June 17.
Now, they are shaking their heads in disgust and everyone blames Coach Donadoni. I ran into a group of four fantastic Hearts supporters from Scotland. These guys were born and bred for drinking, watching football, and random chanting. We all watched in amazement as France was decimated by an unbelievably brilliant-looking Dutch side.
Needless to say, the Dutch fans were ecstatic and everywhere you looked there were flashes of orange. The DJs in the fan zone were spinning some great house and euro tunes and everyone danced with no shame.
The nightlife in Vienna is highly underrated compared to other European capitals. You have your choice of any type of bar, club, or lounge, and most are reasonably priced. I joined the Scots on a four-hour night crawl, which culminated at a fantastic club that was packed to the windows with football supporters and gorgeous women — my kind of joint.
This night reaffirmed my love for Vienna and I am glad that I will be primarily based here for the rest of the tournament.