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Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Soccer in Ukraine below zero - Dynamo wins

Why do I do it? Because its fun.

I can name one Ukrainian soccer player. Andrei Shevchenko. I've been told he is the highest paid player in the world, but he doesn't even play for a Ukrainian club. Kyiv's club Dynamo is playing in the UEFA Cup and I can't name one player in the team. But that didn't stop me going to the soccer tonight. They call it football and they don't even use a football, they use a round thing and you aren't allowed to use your hands, but you are allowed to fall over and cry until the referee comes and wipes your eyes with his hanky. But this doesn't stop thousands of mad fans turning up in the freezing cold to watch their team play.
I put on two pairs of socks, thermal top, two beanies, gloves, scarf my thick jacket with hood pulled up and I still froze. It was 0 when I entered the stadium. There were people all over the field shovelling off the snow. It dropped to -1 and stayed there all game. Half way through the game the referee had to change from the white soccer ball to an orange one so it could be seen in the snow.
When I arrived I bought a 40 hr ticket from a scalper for 15 hr (less than $4). I was frisked about 5 times by police before even entering the stadium and then when I entered my bay there is one guy to check my ticket, two more police to frisk me again and about another 10 police for moral support or cluttering up the entrance or something.
The first half was boring 0-0. At half time I went in search of food, anything to try and warm me up. When I came back someone was sitting in my seat but I was happy to stand on the steps as sitting down gets your clothes all wet anyhow. A little while later a bored policeman tells me to sit down. I told him someone was in my seat. He said something else and I used the good old "I don't understand" line. He didn't like that and told me to 'come here' and motioned that he was going to send me out. But I wasn't going to him and he was too lazy to come to me so he sent one of his juniors who told me to sit in another seat. So I wiped the snow off the seat and perched on the edge of it. The guys next to me spoke English and welcomed me into their conversation and said to be careful with the police, because with the election they are all on edge and ready to make trouble for someone.
Two late goals to Dynamo saw the homecrowd of 50 000+ go home very happy (albeit cold and wet).
It's just because I love sport!!

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