By Kristen Oelschlagel
The 2012 Euro Cup is over, but Mitch Panciuk will never forget the experience of actually getting to be at the games.
“It’s really hard to describe it being in North America because there’s nothing I’ve been to that’s been like that,” Panciuk said.
“When you take all the passion that we have at our high school, college, university and professional levels, multiply that by the fact that you’re playing against people who you’ve been at war with for hundreds of years and then you add all that emotion to it and it becomes amazing.”
This was the 14th year for the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro Cup. The games ran from June 8 to July 1. The teams were divided into four groups with four teams each. Each team played three games to determine which 8 teams (2 from each group) would make it to the quarterfinals. Four teams then moved on to the semi-finals with the winners going to the finals.
The owner of the Belleville Boston Pizza saw games in Poznan, where matches between Italy, Ireland and Croatia were held. Panciuk also saw what he described as the biggest upset of Euro, when Greece beat Russia in Warsaw.
“I was hoping for the upset. Russian fans were very confident, almost arrogant and cocky, so it was nice to see Greece knock them off,” Panciuk said.
He said Poland did an excellent job hosting and the atmosphere is something that people watching it on television won’t understand.
“Seeing it at such a high level gives you a much greater appreciation for it and watching it on T.V. just doesn’t do it justice. The country and people of Poland were so excited. Their colours are like ours, so it was neat seeing everyone wearing red and white. Poland did a phenomenal job hosting,” Panciuk said.
Panciuk was in Poland the day riots were started by Polish and Russian fans. He said Poland did not let the conflict affect the games.
“I felt safe and secure when I was there. I can’t speak to what happened in the Ukraine, I know there was trouble there, but in Poland it was not a problem at all. These games have been some of the most successful ever in terms of attendance and facilities,” he said.
He said not only were the games great to see live, but they were also great for business.
“For us it’s perfect timing, because the games were 12 o’clock in the first round and 2:45 p.m. the rest of the way. It’s not a time we’re typically busy. We’ve had people come in and they’ve been able to enjoy the game and stay for supper.”
Luke Phillibert, who stopped by at Boston Pizza to watch the game, said the games have been exciting but predictable.
“There’s been a lot less upsets than the World Cup. A lot of the time the expected result happens, the team you expect to go through goes through. It’s still been very entertaining,” Phillibert said.
Panciuk and Phillibert both said that Spain winning would mean a historic outcome.
“It would be the first time that’s ever happened, that a team won the Euro Cup, World Cup and Euro Cup again, three championships in a row,” Phillibert said.
Their wishes came true on Canada Day, when Spain beat Italy by four goals to win the Euro Cup.