A non-football fan’s guide to surviving Euro 2012

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June 8, 2012, 1:22 a.m. | About Kyiv — by Daryna Shevchenko

Passersby step over communications pipes near the fan zone on Khreshchatyk Street in Kyiv. Some dread the hosting of the Euro 2012 football championship.
© Ganna Bernyk

Daryna Shevchenko

As soccer fever descends on Ukraine and Poland, the hosts of Euro 2012, many non-sports fans are trying to figure out how to survive the football championship that kicks off on June 8 and will last through July 1.

For those who don’t enjoy football, the championship means dozens of closed-off roads, concentration camp-like fences in downtown Kyiv, logistical nightmares and crowds of rowdy football fans all around.

“There is too much noise and mess around Euro 2012 in Ukraine and even if you do not want to participate you have almost no chances to stay away,” says biologist Anna Lyubunya. She says the only way for her to survive is to leave Ukraine: “I am off to Bulgaria with a friend in a couple of days and hope to come back when Ukraine becomes Ukraine again,” Lyubunya says.

Some tourist agencies have launched special products that cater to football refugees, offering trips for the duration of Euro 2012. These tours are cheaper during this time, another reason for their popularity.

Mandruy Deshevshe travel agency says Ukrainians are eagerly buying trips to the beaches of Croatia, Greece, Spain and Bulgaria. But Oleksandra Bychenko, a manager at the agency, says the popularity is not always connected with Euro 2012.

People who come to Ukraine for Euro 2012 are not people interested in Ukraine, but rather those interested in football or even worse, people interested in cheap beer and girls,

- Daria Antsybor, a school teacher

Daria Antsybor, a school teacher who has planned a trip to Bulgaria during Euro 2012, says that the timing of the trip just happened to coincide, although it suits her to be away.

“I would definitely spend these crazy days as far as possible from the host cities,” Antsybor says. “People who come to Ukraine for Euro 2012 are not people interested in Ukraine, but rather those interested in football or even worse, people interested in cheap beer and girls.”

Some football haters still hope they don’t have to run out of the city to find peach in the time of Euro. “If you can’t leave the country for these weeks, the main survival tip is to stay away from the city center, night clubs and popular entertainment spots,” says Anna Kaunova, a lawyer, and gives her short list of places that she hopes would remain football-free.

“There are a couple of nice places in Obolon and other non-central districts, or you can just visit your friends and relatives, spend time outdoors,” she says. She has a few of restaurants and pubs on her safe-to-go list, including Melanzh, Dakota, Pub No. 1 and Porter Pub, all on Heroiv Dnipra Street in Obolon district.

Some people are grieving that they won’t be able to stay away from the center during the time of the championship because of their jobs. Iryna Aksionova, a chocolate distributor, says her job takes her to many meetings downtown, and she just can’t imagine how she can keep going in the coming month.

“The only way to keep the mess at least out of my private life is to stay at home or at least in my district,” Aksionova says. She has visited Poland recently, and got the impression that things are much calmer over there.

“Even though the central streets are also shut off in Poznan, Krakow and Warsaw, things don’t look that messy at all,” she says.

Kyiv Post staff writer Daryna Shevchenko can be reached at

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