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Poland won EURO 2012. And Donald Tusk scored the winning goal.

Published on June 29, 2012 by: in: Society

On the opening day of Euro 2012 former PM Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz portended that public mood will depend on Polish football team’s results in the championship, while on Tuesday Leszek Miller, in his way, scoffed at Tusk that he needs Polish football players’ victory more than Gierek did. Both gentleman are wrong, because footballers’ results had such meaning when they were PMs. Today the European Football Championship does also count but more like an occasion to set ourselves free from national curse of run-downess.

If that doesn’t beat all

Here’s the list of the biggest investments which have been commissioned a few weeks before Euro 2012 in Warsaw only: the rebuilt Eastern Railway Station, a motorway to Berlin, fully rebuilt Railway Station, Stadium built from scratch together with the long underground tunnel railway station-airport, and entirely new urban railway line, cosmically rebuilt Toruń route (outgoing road in the eastern direction), Warsaw-Modlin Airport. Investments commissioned a few months earlier can be also added to this: Northern Bridge Route together with the bridge itself (basically with two bridges standing alongside), fully renovated Central Railway Station, the National Stadium, a new Legia Stadium and an outgoing road in the Western direction.

picture: Jorge Andrade

The newspaper “Gazeta Stołeczna” reports that Central Railway Station smells of lavender and lime now. PKP[1] spokesman explained that special sprayers had been installed, they are going to make passengers’ stay at the railway station pleasant. Even in Gorzów Wielkopolski local media commented on Warsaw Stadium’s opening. TV stations show modern railway stations scattered around Poland all the time (probably the most beautiful is in Przemyśl), and comment on the fact that the mark above the letter Ń in the name Poznań City Center isn’t bent over but horizontal. Inhabitants of Poznań – who came to see the railway station – accosted by journalists widely commented on this fact, and the opinions were divided.

The entrance of first cars to the A2 motorway was broadcasted live by  a TV station TVN24. The next day the same TV station treated the viewers to audition, in which there was a live broadcast from a helicopter Błękitny24 showing how cars are driving on the motorway. Excited reporter was explaining that you can drive this motorway to Lisbon. In another TV station Polsat  News the host was calling to GDDKiA[2] spokeswoman asking ‘What is the situation on the motorway now’ and he wasn’t a bit confused hearing such an answer ‘I don’t know because it’s evening and I’m at home’. He asked about comments concerning the quality of tarmac ‘wearing course’ on the newly open motorway section and received an assurance that the quality is very high.

Domo TV, which usually shows English programmes about furnishing a kitchen and lawn maintenance, is now broadcasting a series of documentary films about new stadiums in Poznań, Gdańsk, Wrocław and Warsaw, in which the architect tells about implemented solutions, shows the construction modernity and electronics controlling the functions. Whereas TVP TV station broadcasts a series of programmes about well-known restaurateur Adam Gessler, who goes around Poland and checks the quality of new investments commissioned for Euro.  In one episode he turned on a shower in football players locker room at one of stadiums to check if it works. And it did.

How they see us

Since Friday newspapers and portals are full of comments concerning foreigners’ impressions of their stay at Polish part of Euro. One coach, for example,  said that it is great, and another one went one step further and stated that it is clean. As Onet.pl reports the Dutch football team was simply touched by warm welcome in Poland. Gazeta.pl quotes the opinion of Greek media, which encourage to come to Poland ‘at least for beautiful women’, and Russian fans who say that ‘Warsaw is wonderful’. Wp.pl portal informs that ‘foreign journalists speak highly of working conditions prepared for them by organizers’. For example a journalist Stouwdam noticed that he has consistent access to the Internet and ‘really comfortable seats’. Onet.pl published similar information giving it the first place in the news section and the title “Big praise for Poland for Euro. It looks really good”.

Spanish football player Iker Casillas slightly spoiled the festival atmosphere, when after the match in Gdańsk  he stated that the grass had low quality. The media at once started to question the UEFA spokesman, PZPN chairman and experts, and they all firmly assured that it wasn’t true and Italian football team didn’t raise objections.  During the opening match too high temperature raised reservations but still the media unanimously emphasize that UEFA doesn’t blame Poland, because UEFA itself decided to close the roof during the match. Football players, PZPN activists, national and foreign journalists, Western stars present at the match, politicians as well as Zbigniew Boniek were asked by  the media to comment on the matter. Since Sunday Polsat News had been informing, in a news ticker at the bottom of the screen that UEFA decided to open the roof during the match between Poland and Russia. This information had a status URGENT.

With our own eyes

New stadiums and railway stations raise in Poles willingness to face them on their own. Tours from province visit the National Stadium dutifully. It can be seen only from outside, but near the stadium there is a balloon, in which you can fly up to the level of 200 m and if the stadium’s roof is open you can look inside..Local people at the cost of a public transport ticket look at stations: Eastern, Stadium and Airport plus the National Stadium through the window as well as from the inside of the train itself, which is modern and clean. Whole families, and even pensioners who try to read off the inscriptions “Warsaw proud host of Euro 2012” out loud,  make special tours. After reaching the end of the line everyone uses cameras, then the tour gets on the SKM[3] train again and returns the same way to the renovated Eastern Railway Station. Passengers share comments, count foreigners, and move to different seats in order to check whether they are comfortable.

One of the drivers waited as much as 4 hours before no-entry sign was removed from the new section of A2 motorway approach. He wanted to be the first to drive through it, he succeeded and it was noticed by journalists.

Across Poland thousands of cars drive bedecked with national flags. The real novelties are red-and-white wing mirror socks as well as plastic hussar wings installed on the sides of the car. People with more sophisticated taste will be satisfied with a lampshade in the shape of the National Stadium.

“Euro spoko – Poles are enjoying themselves”

Interest in every new detail and simply childish community enthusiasm with which we welcome the changing Poland A.D. 2012 is understandable. Still once working shower in a locker room was an unrivalled excellence and now we have a shower, stadiums and  clean trains at the same time. Poles, accustomed over years to life in dirt, stink and poverty, are doing double take and try to get used to new PKP image, and the fact that modern stadiums are really in Poland (‘it’s not a dream’ said Dariusz Szpakowski). At a lightening-like pace the nation like a Cinderella turned into a princess. In addition the whole world – it’s very important – sees it.

Finally people can be proud of the fact that they are Poles and they are getting accustomed to this unknown, till now, feeling that being a Pole is associated with success, and not another failure.

Prime Minister, you won

Left wing politicians’ calculations therefore are off the mark because the nation has already the sense of winning, they don’t even wait for scores. And there is no alternative for Donald Tusk again so he will rake in the whole splendour for himself. Because such an alternative can be neither Jarosław Kaczyński constantly discussing  ‘Smoleńsk crime’, nor Leszek Miller getting stuck in sayings and smiles for months.

Former PMs can only jealously observe how Tusk goes around the country and successively supervises newly opened investments. You should have built when you had a chance. Now you can only envy him.

Translation: Katarzyna Kołodziej



[1] PKP Group –  is a Polish conglomerate founded in 2001 from the former single national rail operator, Polskie Koleje Państwowe

[2] General Directorate for National Roads and Highways is the central authority of national administration set up to manage the national roads and implementation of the state budget in Poland

[3] Fast Urban Railway

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About Marcin Wojciechowski

Member of Warsaw's Group M20, urban movement which deals with public space and is responsible for the portal www.m20.waw.pl.

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