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By Vera Martirosyan

NICE. – There was time when the eighth day of the European Championship meant that it was almost halfway through.  Now that it lasts for a month, it can be said that Euro is just starting.

The eight day was also notable for its scandals. This time the Croatians stood out. Before coming to them, let’s slightly touch upon the Spain vs. Turkey match. Fortunately, I attended the match of the Turkish squad the second time and in both cases they lost. I won’t attend their third match against the Czechs. Let’s see how they will play.

I visited Nice’s Allianz Riviera stadium last fall, when the Armenian National Team was playing against France. I almost had a heart attack then: the entire traffic of the city was in a horrible state, there being traffic jam in all the central streets, and I was quite late. But the worst of all was that I had to return to hotel after the match.

The stadium is located in the outskirts, in a not very prosperous and safe area. In one of the articles I told how I could not make it to the city before the match and how I risked to hitchhike.   

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This time the match was at 9:00 pm and my primary concern was how I was going to make it to the stadium and return. In honor of the Municipality of Nice or other administrative authorities, this time everything was organized very well.  Free buses passed from Downtown Nice – English seashore - to the stadium every minute. Nice, like the other cities, has special roads for buses. Thus, we could reach the stadium very quickly, in almost twenty minutes. On my way I listened to the songs of the Turkish fans, as well as small children scanning the name of the country in the bus. You will get a better picture of this when watching the video above.

The Spanish were calmer. They only sang Viva España.  I had hardly rejoiced the organization, when the bus left us nearly one kilometer away from the stadium and we had to cross the remaining distance on foot. Nevertheless, I reached the stadium where I was placed between Turkish journalists. I was the only journalist from Armenian at Euro 2016. Perhaps they considered it more correct to place neighbors side by side. Before the match I heard under my hotel window the Turks’ songs about their footballer Arda Turan all day long. But the latter received whistles during the match. Frankly speaking, it seemed to me that this was the result of his game. Even being defeated with a score of 3-0, the Turkish fans didn’t leave the stadium for about 20 minutes, crying “Turkey”.

Following this victor, Spain has already left the group; Croatia has most probably left it as well, the Turks having been left with the only opportunity of beating the Czechs in the last match.  Following the match, the same buses arrived and took all the people at the stadium to the city.

Before this match, in another city of France, Saint-Étienne, the Czech and Croatian squads encountered. In fact, the Croatians are one of the squads of this Championship, which show the most spectacular goals. I have already written about their fans during Turkey vs. Croatia match. Despite having a reputation of rather aggressive fans, they appeared very peaceful in the first match. This time when the Croatians were winning 2-1, the Croatian fans began throwing flares on to the pitch, one of which was about to damage one of their footballers. Consequently, during the stoppage time the Czechs managed to gain and successfully carry out a penalty kick. The disappointment of the Croatian footballers and fans was obvious. After the match many of them said that it would perhaps be better to return to Croatia. In fact, it turned out that a small part of Croatian fans has long been struggling against the Croatian Football Federation, headed by Davor Šuker, the best striker in the history of the Croatian football.

Following this scandal he stated that the Croatian football has long been fighting against hooligans. They make up only a small number of the fans, but the intervention of the country’s leadership is needed for solving that issue.

A lot of questions arise here in connection with the work of the French police. The Internet is full of mockery on that the security was organized by the famous Commissioner Juve, who was played by Louis de Funès. This is the only Euro in history which recorded so much hooliganism both in the stadium and outside. Everything started with the English, and then came to include other fans. Scuffles took place in Marseilles, Nice, Saint-Étienne and Lille.

Police arrest a Turkish fan

Interestingly enough France is indeed prepared in terms of security. One can see armed policemen on each step, as well as choppers constantly flying in the sky. But it still remains unclear how flares or ultras find their way to the stadium.  Many people also joke that this Euro showed why terrorist attacks happen in France. Currently France does not yet need terrorist attacks: thousands of fans terrorize the country much better. Despite all this annoyance, football environment dominates here and it is hard to imagine a championship with thousands of fans of different nationalities and without passions and accidents. 

To add, in another match of the day, Italy beat Sweden with a minimal score. Usually when Italy shows a common game in the group stage, this means that they will become champions. Whether this will happen pr not, we’ll know in 23 days. And before this let’s continue watching Euro 2016, which is played in a new format.

Ucom company is the main sponsor of the Armenian coverage of Euro 2016.

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