Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughUkraine set to miss out on stumbling wall of Euros - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Ukraine set to miss out on stumbling wall of Euros - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Ukraine set to miss out on stumbling wall of Euros

One of the most impressive things about British football fan culture is the sheer strength of numbers it possesses when it goes travelling. From League 2 away days to the bi-annual major international tournaments, the turnout of away fans at these events is, more often than not, deeply impressive and causes slight confusion over the mental well being for so many people to spend so much time and money on football.

One of the most striking ways this element of English football is most demonstrated is the number of England fans that travel to World Cups and European Championships where huge swathes of land are taken over by the (now largely peaceful, thankfully) English hordes.

An estimated 100,000 English fans travelled to Germany for the 2006 World Cup with around 10,000 making the longer (and arguably less glamorous) trip to South Africa for the completion last time around. The amount of money it costs to get to the respective countries, to pay for hotel rooms and (for those who do not possess a ticket) the massive mark-up prices on black market tickets leaves the commitment of these people without question. Although, refer back to my earlier doubt about their mental well being.

All of which leads to scenes in most stadiums where England play of up to 2/3rds or so of the crowd waving St George’s flags or having St George’s face paint or a St George’s tattoo or anything St George-related on their person. Imagine if England played Georgia in a World Cup finals match; it would be a St George’s bonanza.

One positive of this travelling horde is the stimulant it acts on a local economy as hotel rooms and camping sites are booked full, food and drink is consumed hugely (but probably one more hugely than the other) and just basically acting like a massive, walking/stumbling wall of Euro signs to the local bar owners, shopkeepers and hoteliers. Until they occasionally get too rowdy but that’s another story for another time.

However, one country that won’t be cashing in on this bi-annual mass transfer of currency would appear to be Ukraine with news emerging today that only 3,000 tickets for England’s three European Championships qualifying games were sold through the official England membership group, leaving the FA to hand back to UEFA thousands of tickets.

Whilst the FA is hopeful at least 10,000 England fans will travel to the tournament and make their own ticket purchases independently, it will be the first time in many years that England supporters will likely be outnumber as travelling fans.

The Football Supporters Federation has cited Ukrainian businesses themselves for the lack of England fans making the journey as many hotels are inflated their prices in an attempt to cash in, a point which has angered UEFA. Further problems include the price of travelling from city to city due to the distance between them (England will have to travel from Donetsk to Kiev and back to Donetsk for their group games).

Whilst fear of racist violence has been seen as a key factor in the lack of England fans making the journey, the Football Supporters Federation played down the issue citing the fact that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advisory warning for black and Asian people travelling in Ukraine has been in place since 2007; longer than the time frame in which undercover reporters have identified racist and anti-Semitic hooligans deliberately targeting those groups. Essentially, the fears played upon in those reports have been fears for a lot longer than the build up to the tournament; hence the lack of English interest.


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