On Sunday, Spain beat Italy 4-0 for the Euro 2012 championship – but for many the real winners were the Irish fans.
Everybody loves the Irish and UEFA is no exception. The European football governing body has named Irish fans the best at the Euro 2012, citing their exemplary behavior during the group tournament in Poland.
“The executive committee has decided to give a special award to the Irish football fans,”
UEFA’s secretary-general, Gianni Infantino told a news conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.His announcement commending the Irish supporters came on the eve of the Euro 2012 final between holders Spain and Italy, in which Spain went on to crush Italy.
“Everyone was very impressed by the fans of the national team of the Republic of Ireland who came to Poland. The team’s results were mitigated by the fans,” he continued.Infantino also said UEFA President Michel Platini would personally go to Ireland to hand deliver the award.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s charges lost all three of their Group C games against Spain, Italy and Croatia, but it is the way their fans supported them in Poland that left the biggest impression.
They captured the hearts of the football world, regardless of nationality, in particular after their 4-0 defeat to Spain in the Baltic port city of Gdansk. But judging by their raving cheer and song, it would have been difficult to tell just who was on the losing side of that match.
At the end of the game, they shot to their feet and sang for five minutes in support of their team, which had just lost a chance to qualify in the tournament’s playoffs.
“How can you not love Ireland?” asked the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza daily afterwards.
Beside the home fans, the 45,000-strong Irish contingent trailed in numbers only to the German and Russian supporters at the tournament. But while Russian fans were embroiled in numerous clashes and other instances of bad behavior, the Hibernians left nothing but the warmest memories in their wake.