It seems as if the whole city is revolving around the happenings of the tournament. Fan zones – filled with televisions, food, clothes and drink vendors, games, and, in one area, stands in front of a movie theatre-sized screen to create a stadium-like atmosphere for those who could not gain entry to the actual game – occupy various sectors of the city and always contain proud fans of the various nations participating in the prestigious tournament. Even the Jet d’Eau, the famous water jet fountain that sits where Lake Geneva meets the Rhone, has not been untouched by the tournament frenzy, as a giant soccer ball appears to be resting atop its jet stream.
Tonight, Italy begins its tournament run against The Netherlands. I will finally get to see the players I discussed with various Italian fans and soccer organizations over the past couple of days (though only from a fan zone, as I was unable to obtain tickets, or lodging for that matter, in Bern where the game is being played). Will they live up to expectations? Will any racial incidents occur? All I can do is watch and wait.
Tomorrow will be a busy day for me. Due to scheduling issues and time constraints, I will be forced to meet with two different soccer organizations in two different cities tomorrow afternoon – the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in Nyon and Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD) in Geneva. I am looking forward to both interviews. They will be my first non-Italian-based interviews and should provide a point to compare and contrast the extent to which racism persists in Italian soccer as compared with other European countries. It should be incredibly interesting.
I must go now. A man trying to sell flowers to passers-by has visited me on more than one occasion now and is eyeing me again. Since I am the only one who has not walked away I think he assumes I might be interested in purchasing some, despite turning him away multiple times.
I’m off to participate in the fanfare. When in Romandy, right? Au revoir.