Live from the Alps Blog

VIENNA, AUSTRIA – Whew, what a night!

In the Heart of the Fiesta

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 with the popular journal series, "A Canadian in Germany". Contact Kris

VIENNA, AUSTRIA — Whew, what a night.

Waking up to the strains of a Spanish guitar at the fan camp was a great start to the day, and after seeing all the jovial Italians and Spaniards in the main hall I knew this would be a show to remember for years to come.

It was another incredibly hot day outside so everybody was drinking gallons of water. Male fans beside the stadium were content with dressing in nothing but flags and shorts while the women were being hounded and smiled at as they paraded around in skimpy skirts and soccer ball bras.

I had hung out with a group of diehard fans from Alabama, of all places, all weekend long and the boys from CONCACAF represented well. We proceeded to hunt for tickets and all five of us found some for very cheap, Joe and Sam amazingly landing their tickets at cost (60 euros)!

We went to the fan zone in the Volkstheater district where you could try out a whack of new soccer boots, play a game of 5-on-5 or enter a chamber where you had a chance to win a pair of tickets for the match that night by catching these flying paper balls. Some guys left in tears after not winning - talk about emotion. I was intrigued by the tent where you could create a personalized pair of boots with a ton of options, including your name, flag, number, and chassis. But at a price of 260 euros, I decided to pass.

A favourite pastime of mine at games is watching teams warm up. Spanish keeper Iker Casillas is one of my favourite all-time players and it was really interesting to see how he prepared for such a huge match. Especially funny was his constant rubbing of his posts, as if a genie lurked inside.

The Americans and I all ended up sitting together right in the heart of the Spanish supporters section and let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to sit with the Spaniards at a match, do whatever it takes because it is an experience of a lifetime.

Everyone was dressed up from head to toe with jerseys, hats, scarves etc. But the real characters are those dressed as cows or matadors, and especially entertaining are the fans who brought questionably altered blow-up dolls. Of course, many Italians were in attendance and I always love seeing the guys decked out in Roman soldier uniforms.

It was LOUD throughout the match and there was a non-stop barrage of chants that rivalled any match I've ever been to. The Spanish faithful particularly ripped on Antonio Di Natale for his antics and never let up on him. They were also livid that Italy preferred to sit back, though Alessandro Del Piero's cheeky goal-line moves around the 90th made them gasp.

Both groups of fans were boisterous throughout the shootout and when Spain prevailed, out came the flares and the celebration. The floor rumbled for 30 minutes after the match and many will have suffered whiplash from viciously swinging their scarves and flags, but eliminating the world champions I'm sure is more than worth it. 

Now that is what I call a fiesta.