Asked about what they have been doing for the last couple of days since they arrived to Ukraine, two Swedish fans hanging around in the fan zone on Khreshchatyk answered loudly and in unison: “Partying!”
The two young bartenders, Nicklas Ankaras, 24, and Marcus Edvinsson, 25, have never been to a major football championship before, despite the fact that they have been fans since a very young age.
They decided to come to Ukraine because they feel their team is in good form. Sweden is playing Ukraine on June 11 at Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv, and then will face England and France.
But football has clearly been just a part of the fun.
“We’ve been to some clubs: D’Lux, Arena, Party Room, Shooters, Caribbean. Clubs are great here. Ukrainian people like to dance,” says Edvinsson. “Next night we’re going to Arena again. But we won’t be clubbing every night here. I’m getting old, you know.”
Two friends have also visited the Sweden fan camp on Trukhaniv island, which has had a lot of bad press for poor quality of its facilities. Just a few days before the championship kicked off on June 8, the campsite looked more like a landfill, and it did not seem like it would be ready.
“It is disgusting,” the Swedes say. “We’re not staying there though, we’re staying at a hotel, Bogdanov Yar. The hotel is not good, but we’ll be moving to a better one in couple days.”
Ankaras and Edvinsson are staying for two weeks, for the whole group stage, and are going to see all of their team's games. They plan to stay longer if Sweden does well.
“We hope Sweden will make it to the quarterfinals. But I don’t know if it will go further after that,” says Edvinsson.
High prices in Ukraine are a part of the reason.
“We heard a lot of bad things about Ukraine. That it is dangerous, and so on. But once we came everyone was so nice and nothing bad happened so far. Booking the hotel and tickets was not really hard, though quite expensive. The hotel, I mean. In January it would be cheap, but these days it is expensive,” says Edvinsson.
Nicklas Ankaras and Marcus Edvinsson hanging out in the fan zone on Khreshchatyk, Kyiv's main street. (Ganna Bernyk)