herald

Wednesday 29 March 2017

So who says we don't have a prayer at Euros?

THE Irish team will have God on their side at the Euro 2012 championships -- thanks to a new chapel in the stadium where they will take on World Cup winners Spain.

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who is known for his strong Catholic faith, is expected to visit the chapel at the PGE Arena of Gdansk, in Poland, ahead of the crunch match.

The non-denominational room of Christian inspiration was opened this week in preparation for the competition, which kicks off in June.

Euro 2012 spokesperson Michal Brandt told the Herald that officials in Gdansk had been anxious to provide for the spiritual needs of the teams playing in the city.

"We know that Trapattoni is very religious so we would not be surprised if he and some of the Irish players come here for a visit before the match to make one last quick prayer.

"This is the only stadium in the area which offers this kind of facility."

The Herald went behind scenes at the arena to discover what awaits Irish fans.







Drinks

A new train line is being built to ensure supporters will be able to travel from the fan village to the stadium in record speed.

The trip should take no more than several minutes, as the two venues are only 3km apart.

The tracks have been laid but the platform will only be completed towards the end of April.

"We now know which infrastructures will be done in time for the championships and which won't.

"All the essential transport links will be finished, the only one we expect to still be in construction by the time of the Euros is a new road heading towards Warsaw and a bridge on the road to the airport which should not affect fans," Mr Brandt assured.

Fans looking to enjoy a few drinks before or after the match will have to do so in the fan village, or on the beach situated several kilometres away from the stadium.

While Poland passed a law this year allowing supporters to drink beer at games as long the alcohol content remains low (3.5pc), UEFA will not allow any alcohol on the premises of the matches for security reasons.

The three group matches and the quarter-final game at the PGE Arena are deemed low-risk.

Nevertheless, Mr Brandt explained that there would be a strong police presence at the Ireland v Spain match.

"There will be around 15 or so spotters from each country dressed in civilian clothing who will mix in with the fans," he said.

"They obviously know the behaviour of their citizens better than any other force so that is the logic behind it. They are already co-operating with Polish officers to ensure that everything goes well.

"There will also be close to a hundred Polish officers outside the stadium, including a mounted and anti-riot brigade which hopefully won't be required.

"We have four cells in the stadium in case of aggressive fans. Police officers will carry pepper spray as well as Tasers. Meanwhile Irish fans should feel at home at the PGE Arena -- the stadium's colour scheme is white and green for the local team of Gdansk.







Falcons

Over 200 staff members, along with a hawk and two falcons, will be working the previous day to ensure that the grounds are in perfect condition for the event.

"We bring the hawk and falcons to the stadium around three times a week to keep pigeons away."

More than 42,000 seats will be filled on the day of the match and Mr Brandt believes tickets should still be available for fans travelling over at the last minute.

"I'm quite sure fans will still be able to get tickets on the day of the match, if they try to buy them a few hours before, they will probably pay twice or three times as much as the usual, but we've found that 10 minutes before a game, you can usually get some at nominal price. "

While the Polish summer is usually warm and dry, there are sometimes thunderstorms,and to prevent any accidents, the arena has been equipped with three lightning conductors going across the roof of the stadium.

hnews@herald.ie

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