Apart from being the football fest, Euro-2012 is the first ever experience for Ukraine in mass communication with Europeans. Ukrainians go to fan-zones not only to drink beer and cheer for a favorite team, but also to talk to foreigners and to show them that Ukraine is not as scary as depicted in the press.

However, not all Europeans have come to Ukraine to have fun. For some of them the championship is a working routine. During match days both Ukrainian and foreign police forces patrol the streets and stadiums' territory.

Foreign policemen draw attention with their unusual uniform and somehow 'foreign' face expression. Not a minute goes by that someone local does not ask to take a photo. And law-enforcement officers never say 'no'.

Having seen a group of mysterious police officers - two policemen in uniform and a woman in plain-clothes all looking Italian - ForUm could not miss an opportunity to make an acquaintance. 

It turns out that they are indeed Italian police officers and the woman is their chief - police office, Colonel Elsa Cozza. 

"Good day. Can we ask you some questions?" we ask the Colonel. "It depends..." she answers smiling.

- Can you tell us where you are from and what is your service here?

- I am a police officer from Rome. I and my colleagues are here to work with our fans.

- Have come you come here voluntarily or it was an order?

- Neither of two. You see, I service in the special Italian Interior Ministry's department of relationships with football fans. Traveling abroad for football matches is my job.

- How many are you?

- Nine. Five officers patrol in inform, while four in plain-clothes work within the groups of fans.

- Your colleagues in Ukraine were telling that your functions are advisory. But still, if there is an emergency situation, do you have a right to master and detain your fellow citizens?

- If there are some disorders we will master our fans, but we do not have the right to detain them on the territory of Ukraine. What we can do is to remind them about serious consequences they are facing coming back home.

- In Ukraine we've heard a lot about your ultra-tifosi. They say such fans are transported in special buses with grated windows and accompanied by police forces. Is it true? And have you brought such tifosi in Ukraine?

- Oh, no. Tifosi no longer behave like this. It was happening ten years go, but now it's in the past. We've held consultations and explanatory works with them and now tifosi go with normal buses and do not cause troubles. I am sure our fans will behave in Ukraine.

- Have you been in Ukraine before?

- First I came on the eve of the championship, but it was one-day official visit, hence not counted. You can say this one is the first time I am here.

- Do you like it here? Have you visited some sightseeing?

- I like Kyiv a lot. Unfortunately we have a lot of work to do now, so there is not enough time to look around. We've had time to take a glance at some churches only, at Sofia cathedral in particular.

- Have you seen something special in Ukraine, something you've never seen at home or in other European countries?

- You have different architecture, while the nature and weather are very similar to Italian, though Kyiv has more greens than Rome.

- How do you like Ukrainians?

- It's my second day only, but I see everybody is happy and smiling. I hope Ukrainians will cheer for our national team.

- There are always certain expectations about a place one is going to visit. Tell us please if Ukraine has met yours?

- You have a beautiful country and hospitable people. There are no negative moments I can possibly point out.

- We've noticed that our people like to take pictures with Italian policemen. Is it only us, or the same situation happens in other countries as well?

- Oh! Not only Ukrainians. Such photo sessions happen all the time, wherever we go (laughing - ed.)


- Some say that Italian and Ukrainian languages sound similar. Have you noticed that?

- Indeed. Though the Italian language originated from Latin, when I here Ukrainian from afar it does sound Italian. The Polish language, for example, is totally alien. 

- Would you like to visit Ukraine again, may be on a vacation trip?

- Oh, I'd love to come back to Ukraine, and not only in Kyiv, but in other cities as well.

Dmytro Hyliuk, Yulia Artmoshchenko
Photo Marianna Hardi


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