On the eve of the championship all world mass media screamed about dangers, waiting for foreigners in Ukraine. It seemed we have everything - diseases, bad women, aggressive Ukrainian xenophobes, cruel policemen.
However, for the first week of the tournament Ukrainians have managed to dismiss negative ideas about Ukraine. Even German ambassador to Ukraine has admitted this, saying our citizens have proven to be tolerant and welcoming. UEFA authorities have also praised Ukraine's preparation, pointing out Ukrainian police forces, which have proven to be capable to maintain public order in the streets and fan-zones.
Guests of the capital admit that the fest atmosphere is peaceful and friendly. In this respect it's worth mentioning that such atmosphere has been created not in offices of state officials but by thousands of Ukrainians, including border guards, police officers, doctors, volunteers and even street cleaners.
And endless battle! We only dream of peace
The entire perimeter of the Ukrainian border now employs 42 thousand border guards. The work is humming all day and night long. On some days before the matches, fans practically "storm" the checkpoints. Sometimes, about 300 thousand people cross the Ukrainian border in a day. In addition, checking each person must take no more than 20 seconds - these are the requirements of the UEFA. "Before Euro 2012, we had six-hour shifts. Currently, we are working in an emergency mode - 12 hours per shift or 24 hours round the clock. Sleep and taking a rest we happen after the Euro Championship, as the best employees will be granted extra vacations and days-off," the deputy head of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine Pavlo Shysholin told a ForUm correspondent.
The working routine of the border guards includes not only saying "Welcome to Ukraine" to the tourists with a smile, but also requires an ability to send people home in polite matter, especially those, who are trying to get into Ukraine with passport photocopies or leased vehicles or those, who are in the black list of football hooligans. During the first week of the Championship hosting, the guards banned 15 problem fans from entering Ukraine. "However, the smugglers and illegal immigrants lie low during this time, knowing that the security control at the borders has increased," Pavlo Shysholin said. However, the prospects before opening the Championship were not so rosy. In May, the Polish border guards were holding protest rallies at the Ukrainian-Polish border to oppose rising the retiring age in their country. But in order not to disrupt the Euro 2012 and not to create traffic jams, they decided to postpone their personal issues to the end of the Euro 2012. Due to that, the admission of foreign tourists at the Ukrainian-Polish border goes on in a normal mode.
More than 20 thousand law enforcement officers maintain order in host-cities. They have to deal with a variety of problems, mostly lost or stolen phones, money, documents. "For example, we had a call from a Swede, who claimed his friend never came back to hotel for the night. Of course we announced a search, but it turned out that this friend spent the whole night in local bars. Then, a French citizen Jean lost somewhere his ticket and appealed to the police to restore it. Unfortunately we do not have this authority, and Jean had to watch the match in the fan-zone," head of the Interior Ministry department on mass public order Oleh Matveitsov told ForUm.
"There were more serious cases when police had to set apart Ukrainian and Russian fans in Lviv. Fortunately, police arrived in time to prevent a fight. In Kyiv, on the contrary, police had to arrest 13 Ukrainian fans who intended to put up a fight with foreigners," the official continued.
For their work law enforcement officers are not supposed to get any awards or financial rewards, maximum what they can get is expenses cover for backing up their colleagues in neighboring cities.
Ambulance is another important attribute for mass events. All medical workers involved into the work with foreign guests have been certified by UEFA. Many of them took language lessons before the championship. Medical workers admit those were tough times. However, for moment foreign guest do not bring any trouble. According to the data of Health Ministry, the complaints mostly include burns, cuts, alcohol poisoning and hangover. Among the most serious traumas there were a head injury (drunken Sweden hit the asphalt), a bite by a stray dog and appendicitis emergency.
English speaking volunteers are working hand to hand with doctors. They stay in hospitals for night watch or work 24 hours without rest. The army of volunteers numbers more than 12 thousand people, three thousand of which were recruited by UEFA and the rest - by local authorities. They all work for free, sometimes during their vacations and days-off. The average age of volunteers is 23-24 years, and the oldest one is 69.
Food and drinks sellers are so happy with the fans, who snatch up beer so fast that suppliers had to refill the stock several times per day. Beer literally flows like water, especially in Swedish camp on Trukhanov Island.
On the other hand, empty bottles, cans and plastic glasses are real challenge for street cleaners. After the first match the city cleaning companies removed 150 cu meter of garbage from the fan-zone. Kyiv street cleaners have to work day and night. Some of them will have to stay during their vacation periods and even days-off are not that often.
Fortunately, the cleaners are paid almost double and will get financial reward for overtime. The Kyiv department on beautification control informed ForUm that there are special inspectors who follow the work of street cleaners and report them if the work is not done.
At the same time the capital still lacks necessary number of street cleaners. Through job-offer web-sites cleaning companies are still looking for hands, offering 15-20 hryvnias per hour. Street cleaners work 24 hours in Boryspil airport and in all host-cities. Donetsk recently discovered that garbage bins and containers are not enough to resist the inflow of tourists. Street cleaners now have to empty them not twice, but four times per days.
As it usually happens at mass events the true organizers are not spoken about much. As you can see, Euro-2012 servants will not earn much after their work, but we want to point out that it is thanks to them that Ukraine looks like hospitable and modern country for foreign guests, not a wild field, depicted by the world press.
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