Posts Tagged ‘Euro 2012’


Euro 2012 – Human Trafficking

June 12, 2012

As most of you dear readers will know, when it comes to human rights, my particular area of interest fueled by a serious dislike for the practice, is human trafficking in all its forms.  Be it human trafficking for sexual exploitation, slave labour or simply gross profiteering from illegal immigration with no end exploitation  for those transfered nefariously over national borders.

Anyway, Euro 2012 held jointly with one EU nation, Poland, and one non- EU nation, Ukraine, presents a prime opportunity to traffic people across borders amongst the hundreds of thousands of fans flitting between nations and stadiums.

An issue and nefarious opportunity not lost on the authorities or traffickers of course.

In order to try and combat human trafficking during the tournament, Frontex will be working closely with the border services of Ukraine and Poland, deploying their people within the hosting nations.

One wonders if there will be an increase in detections rates during this period, whether the trafficker will find alternative routes knowing of the additional staffing and scrutiny, or whether human trafficking will be kept to the usual normative figures that occur anyway.

It would be very interesting to see a post-tournament report, not only for the statistics but also an overarching report covering cooperation, logistics, procedures and general Frontex/Ukrainian relations and liaison.

In the meantime, anyone coming into Ukraine during the tournament, be it by air, rail, road or sea, do feel free to drop me a line if you happen to notice any Frontex personnel or change in the attitude of the Ukrainian border services whilst under additional scrutiny from their EU peers.


Euro 2012 has begun – What of the far-right extremism?

June 9, 2012

Much has been said internationally of late about the far-right extremism and racism in Poland and Ukraine and the violence surrounding those limited numbers who hold such an ideology and allow it to manifest in physical assaults, affray and violent disorder.

Of course such things cannot and should not be ignored, although they are, historically, seemingly the preserve of the domestic Ukrainian football league and have not reared up in international or European club football events thus far in Ukraine when foreign teams have visited.  Let us hope that remain the case.

Amongst the first detainees by police in Poland?  Ukrainians – but not of the far-right kind!

However, despite the headlines selling copy for domestic media, Poland and Ukraine are a long way from being the only nations with far-right issues.  In fact, The World Value Survey shows only 12% of Ukrainians would not want foreigners as their next door neighbour.  Far less than many European nations, France for example 26% would object to a foreigner living next door.  (Such surveys of course do not provide gripping headlines or sell copy for the media.)

Here is an excellent piece from Dr Matthew Goodwin (I can’t say it’s bad, it’s from Chatham House of which I am a Member) who has made a very good academic career from studying and writing about European far-right politics and groups.

As yet, the far-right Svoboda Party in Ukraine has not broken out of regional politics in the Lviv region and entered the RADA.  That is far from the case for many nations in Europe as Dr Goodwin illustrates.

Who then, has the bigger problem with the far-right?


Euro 2012 – Racial insults & Ukraine

May 30, 2012

Elsewhere in cyberspace a heated debate amongst the Ukrainian Expat community and some English football fans is engaged, fueled by media coverage in the UK of Ukrainian and Polish supporters football violence and racist actions and chants.

Now there is no denying that there is a racist element amongst certain fans and in particular those associated to certain football clubs in Ukraine.

There is also one Ukrainian football club whose supporters are associated with anti-fascism (not that such a thing would be reported in the UK media).

However,  this heated debate between the Ukrainian Expat community and traveling English fans has now centred over the word “nigger/negro” (негр).

It is time to be crystal clear.  In Ukraine and Russia there is no racial derogatory slur attached to the word “nigger/negro”.  It is not an insult here and neither is it meant to be insulting!

Despite the negativity attached to the word in the UK and other nations, historically and currently, the word nigger has no such undercurrent in Ukraine or Russia.  It is not a word that Ukrainians or Russians would use to insult a black person.

In Ukraine and Russia, the word nigger/negro simply means a black person and nothing more.  It is politically correct here.

If a Ukrainian or Russian wanted to racially insult a black person, nigger is most definitely not the word they would use to do it.

They would use words like chernomazy (черномазый) or several others I won’t bother to list that have the same distasteful connotations as those attached to the word nigger in the UK.  Anyway, you get my point.

So, if you are in Ukraine for the football (or Russia or Ukraine for any other reason) and hear the word “nigger/negro” – it is not the insult you will automatically associate it with if you are an English football fan or western tourist.   It is a politically correct word with no insulting undertone whatsoever!

Do please remember not all words have the same insinuations or inferences in all cultures and languages.  Taking a drunken swing at somebody you hear using the word nigger here will land you (and not them) with a robust response from the police as they have said nothing wrong – in fact they have been politically correct.

Cultural, linguistic and historical awareness is a necessity if you are looking for an excuse to call racism over words like nigger in Ukraine.  Wonder if the BBC or UK media will actually highlight this, or whether they will simply be so ignorant as to see it as a racial insult – that it isn’t?


European Council (of Foreign Ministers) – Ukraine football boycott

May 15, 2012

As many of you dear readers will know, the EU works on the principle of Dante’s many circles of hell, the workings of which I have outlined for you previously.

Yesterday on 14th May, the European Council (which comprises of Ministers from the sovereign nations that make up the EU met under the chairmanship of Herman Von Rumpoy and Baroness Ashton) with a fairly lengthy agenda upon which  Ukraine was listed.  Here is that agenda.

Whether discussing Ukraine during lunch aids or hinders the digestive system, who knows?

Anyway, given some very stern and robust views from certain Member States and other with more tolerant views, quite how the anticipated press releases would read was somewhat unknown.  The wording of said press releases have to be agreed by all concerned after all.

Prior to the meeting, Carl Bildt was talking sense again.  Of course I would say that.  I have said the football is the wrong stick to hit Ukraine with given the need for EU personalities to interact directly with the Ukrainian people.  As He rightly states, the future of Ukraine with regards to the EU should rest upon how the elections in October are run and then the situation duly and impartially assessed.  After that when the undoubted cheating will surface, then condemn the current leadership.  It is after all not the number of electoral violations, (they occur in every nation),   but the nature of said violations.

This, however, is what we got just before lunch regarding a boycott, which Baroness Ashton fully supports.

Much later in the afternoon, Carl Bildt tweeted  “EU is strong on urgency of the rule of the law as well as free and fair elections in Ukraine. Only that will truly open the door to Europe.” – Hardly a telling sign that a consensus for a boycott as championed by the European Commission had been achieved,  Yet another disunited front from the 27 EU sovereigns upon the horizon?

No.  There seems to be unity.  At least unity amongst the European Council where none present stated they would stay away from the Euro 2012 in Ukraine.  That is not to say all will come of course, each nations will decide individually no doubt, but an EU wide boycott as called for by the European Commission?  Apparently not – as confirmed by Baroness Ashton in this clip (4.37).
The difference, as I have written before, the European Commission represents no nation taking part.  Sovereign heads of government must answer to voters if they are not there to support the national teams.
As I have repeatedly stated, this is the wrong stick to beat the current government of Ukraine with from amongst a very limited bag of sticks held by the EU.

Now let us see what comes of the 2 day EU-Ukraine summit led by Prime Minister Azarov over today and tomorrow.  The language of the press releases will be interesting not only in what they say – but also what they don’t!


French election results and Ukraine

May 8, 2012

Well it hasn’t taken the political scientists and think tanks in Kyiv very long to start speculating over what the change of the French presidency will mean with regards to Kyiv and Ukraine.

Why would it?  These people are paid to state what they think.  Unfortunately they, like most political commentators, internal or external of Ukraine, will either state the blindingly obvious or slant things towards the bias of their paymasters.

So, let us have a look at the pearls of wisdom that have come forth (and I will do it all in English to save any of you the trouble of translation).

Institute of Global Strategies Director, Vadim Karasev:  “This victory is good news for Victor Yanukovych.  This may give rise to restart relations with the European elite, with whom Mr Yanulovych finally soured relations.”

He also went on to say that it is a blow to the Tymoshenko camp, stating, ” Now some of the lobbying capabilities in the EU, France, is lost to Tymoshenko.” 

Hmmm – Really?

Whilst it is true that there is a great deal to be said for personal relationships amongst political leaders on the international stage, and it is also true that the demise of Sarkozy may result in a weakened EPP, the EU umbrella party to which both Tymoshenko and Sarkozy belonged,  does that mean Mr Hollande will close the door to Ms Tymoshenko’s plight or human rights?

Now “Mer-kozy” is past and we now have “Mer-de” instead, (yes I know that means “shit” in French but it is funny and may well yet prove to be an apt name for the new Franco/German tandem), there will be trials and tribulations between these leaders, but also areas where easy political harmony can be found for the sake of public unity appearances.

Mr Hollande, like Ms Merkel have issues at home and within the broader Eurozone.  An unnecessary divergence over Ms Tymoshenko in public?  Hardly, when it is an easy political unity “win” to show to the rest of the world.  In short, there is little likelihood of a falling out over Ms Tymoshenko’s situation, when as many points of joint easily achieved public agreements are needed, no matter what they are.

Next we have Viktor Nebozhenko, political scientists of the” Ukrainian Barometer” who claims, “Regardless of who came to power now in France, in the next year the relationship between France and Ukraine will not change.”  

Now that is a safe prediction given the current situation, however as the saying goes, 24 hours is a long time in politics, and things change rapidly.  As Harold McMillan once stated when asked what he feared most, “Events dear boy, events.”

Now there are events in  Ukraine and several of them in the next few months.  There is the Euro 2012 who some are trying to politicise and others attempting to keep it a purely sporting event, and then there is the parliamentary elections in October in Ukraine which could well see the current government replaced by the opposition parties.  (The presumption is that should the opposition win, Ms Tymsoehnko will be released very swiftly, however that may not be the case with President Yanukovych remaining as President until 2015 before he is up for reelection.)

There is also the fact that whilst the issue of Ms Tymoshenko (and others) make the headlines, there is also numerous statements from EU bodies welcoming certain reforms and laws that have been passed under the Yanukovych tenure so far, and as such those positives have been recognised by France as an EU Member.

How much time and effort Mr Hollande will give to Ukraine is really rather unknown.  He certainly has some very big fish to fry domestically and internationally the markets have not reacted well to the democratic decision of the French people.  As far as foreign policy is concerned however, it remains to be seen where and how Mr Hollande will make his mark outside of the EU.  In the old French colonial territories or the EU bordering nations perhaps?

In short, it is far too soon to be making any predictions, particularly as he does not take office until 15th May and who knows what will happen between then and now, other than predictable and unpredictable “events.”

The Ukrainian foreign policy position must surely be to drive a wedge between France and Germany over Ms Tymoshenko if they plan to leave her in prison.  As yet, it remains to be seen if a crack appears into which a wedge can be pushed.

Too soon to say how the Franco/Ukrainian relationship will change, or even if it will change, so I won’t be jerking my knee just yet with predictions and pontifications.

* * * * *

Possibly more exciting than the guesses relating to the new French presidency towards Ukraine, is that tomorrow, on what is known as Victory Day in the FSU (and more politically correctly as Europe Day within the EU),  is that there will be a guest blog, fingers crossed, relating to Odessa, The Great Patriotic War/WWII, Hero City status and something for the TAOW/war-gaming community as well!

If that fails, then you will be struck with more ruminations from me – Apologies in advance.


Politics and sport – Ukraine UEFA 2012

May 2, 2012

Now as you know, generally I stay away from the “headlining MSM” media news about Ukraine.  Occasionally I don’t use the news as a springboard at all, particularly when I feel like a meander through policy, effective, ineffective or counterproductive thereof, negotiations and diplomacy, positions, needs and interests, interests verses values and all that terribly clever stuff that makes the world of policy and international relationships go around – mostly in shades of nuanced grey rather than black and white I would add.

However, now seems like a good time to ponder recent mutterings over Ukraine, Euro 2012 and political leaders thoughts as the tournament comes ever closer with Ms Tymoshenko (and others) languishing in jails after what is perceived by many as politically motivated prosecutions.

Of course, sport and politics have collided on numerous occasions in the past.  The World Cup in Argentina went ahead despite the Argentinian Junta politically persecuting and torturing large numbers of Argentinians at the time.  A full political and diplomatic turnout was present during that sports fest regardless of those activities.

In contrast to that we have the Beijing Olympics only a few years ago where only 9 EU political leaders attended the opening ceremony in protest over the Chinese human rights record.

Then there are instances that can be cited such as apartheid South Africa and tours such as Kerry Packer’s England cricket tour that went ahead despite the political opposition to it.

Consistency?  Of course not.

Will there be consistency amongst the EU national leadership over Ukraine next month?  Again highly unlikely with Poland already going on record that political leaderships staying away from Ukraine is the wrong thing to do.

It is the age old problematic question of whether you seek to remain engaged and try to influence matters from within or take a stance that will leave you outside and shouting over the fence to a neighbour who is hard of hearing.  Can any EU leader afford to miss the opportunity to crucify the current government when they will have free access to the Ukrainian media and society live on Ukrainian soil?

There is then not only the matter of foreign policy but domestic policy for those leaders who choose to stay away.  How does it look to the increasingly nationalistic voters who are rapidly tiring of almost all things “EU”, when their leadership will not be present when their national teams are playing in a major tournament?

For the European Commission who are not elected by the EU voters, they have no domestic nationalist backlash to concern themselves with.  For the sovereign nations who are seeing a rapid rise of right-wing nationalistic drum thumping, failure to be there to support their nation who have been through a difficult qualification process to reach these finals, may not sit so well with their voting public.

After all, to them Yulia Tymoshenko is just another corrupt politician from Ukraine, an impression consistently enforced by the media that states all politicians are corrupt in Ukraine.  Thus possibly not enough to justify snubbing their own national team in the tournament for some domestic voters.

On the subject of the European Commission,  it seems the western press are using only the most useful parts of press statements to sell copy.  Take for instance the absence of EU Justice Commissioner Reding from the tournament despite the UEFA (not Ukrainian) invitation to be there.  It is being reported that she is not there due to political reasons.  Not entirely true.

Her press department made the statement “She is not going.  First of all her agenda does not permit this.  But also she is quite concerned about the situation in Ukraine and in particular by the situation with Yulia Tymoshenko.”   EU Observer 30.04.12

Now I would like to think that as the European Commissioner for Justice, even if her agenda did permit her attendance, as she doesn’t answer to any domestic voters to hold and retain her position, she would, could and should make her decision based on the values she is supposed to represent.   Unfortunately we will never know as her agenda doesn’t allow it anyway (even though that bit seems to be missing from almost all MSM reporting on her absence).

Mr Barroso has also stated he will not come to Ukraine “unless there is a swift improvement in human rights there.”   Anybody who is even remotely aware of “diplo speak” will recognise this statement is notable not for what it says, but for what it does not.  A swift improvement in human rights does not necessarily translate to the release of Ms Tymoshenko.

A “swift improvement” could very well be the sending of Ms Tymoshenko to Germany for treatment a few days before the tournament is due to begin.  That would allow Mr Barroso to enjoy yet another free jolly of VIP treatment and delay having to deal with the uncomfortable issues relating to what happens to Ms Tymoshenko once she has been treated in Germany.

Upon her return to Ukraine she would return to jail to continue to serve her sentence one must presume as things currently stand.  She would also have to face her trial over the shenanigans of UESU and Somolli Ent which has been postponed by the Ukrainian courts due to her health.

There is then the matter of Chancellor Merkel who has yet to make a formal decision to attend or not.  She will be acutely aware that whilst a percentage of Germans would support her staying away if that was her decision, there would also be a large number who would not be happy that a German Chancellor is not present at a tournament which Germany not only qualified for, but also stands a very good chance of winning – with the final in Kyiv.

She faces reelection next year.  Unsurprisingly she has not made that decision yet.

To add more difficulty to her position, Vitali Klitchko, Ukrainian opposition politician and Heavyweight Boxing Champion whose sporting career is based in Germany and who thus has a massive German following, had this to say about sports, politics and boycotting Ukraine:

“Europe and (Ukraine’s) neighbouring countries have enormous influence on Ukraine both economically and politically.  The important thing is that the whole country is not punished through penalties and sanctions that also effect the people.  The pressure needs to be directed against the country’s leadership.  Each person at the country’s helm has a personal responsibility for what is currently happening in Ukraine.  They must be held accountable.

The German team would be proud if it knew the Chancellor was in the stadium.  Another question is whether the visit would be an official one and if Merkel would attend as a representative of her country.  A private visit would be unproblematic.

This tournament is the biggest sporting event in the history of Ukraine.  It has to happen.   It is even an excellent opportunity to draw the world’s attention to the maladministration in our country.

Democratic changes are primarily dependent on the people at the highest levels of government.  Throughout the years, our politicians have spoken about the democratisation of our country, but in their heart of hearts they don’t want it at all. “  Der Spiegel  28.04.12

Suffice to say, Vitali Klitchko falls into the Polish camp of boycotts being counterproductive.   It should be worthy of note, that at the time of writing this, Klitchko and his party have thus far not joined the United Opposition when it comes to a single party list of candidates for the October elections.  One suspects his reasons for that are founded in the very last sentence of the above Der Spiegel quote which is all encompassing rather than party specific.

In case you are wondering, the current position taken by Ms Tymosehnko herself over the matter, is that there should not be a boycott because of her, and that the Ukrainian people should see the EU leaders in Ukraine as it will encourage them to look to the EU rather than think they have been written off.  In this she has a very good point when we consider the EU EaP policy is now to engage with Ukrainian society rather than Ukrainian politicians.

Anyway, it remains to be seen who will boycott the Ukrainian side of the Euro 2012 tournament and who won’t.  Aside from Ms Reding, who is too busy anyway, there doesn’t seem to be any other absolute confirmations of personalities who count and are recognisable to the Ukrainian public at the time of writing.  That may well change of course over the coming weeks.

If it does change, do not expect the Ukrainian position to change drastically because of it.  The very best that could be hoped for is that Ms Tymoshenko is sent to Germany for treatment immediately prior to the tournament.  The question is, would she then go, as effectively she would be in exile during the tournament with a cell awaiting her return.

To be honest I am not even sure the Ukrainian side will cede that much ground as currently there is no legal way to allow for prisoners to receive treatment in a foreign nation as far as I can tell.

The question for the EU nations is then whether the diplomatic pleasantries will continue or not.  Empirical global historical evidence would indicate that the current situation in Ukraine (and with regards to Ms Tymoshenko) are not sufficient to end such niceties for most nations.  For the most part such things are stretched far past the point where most people would ever allow matters to go in their lives, simply because international issues are here one day and gone the next.  There is an overarching desire to keep such relations going far more often than not, despite immediate circumstances.

If the EU national leaders are now going to put human rights as the qualifier to their attendance at major international sporting events as the “norm”, then it will be interesting to see what happens with the Winter Olympics in Russia (with very similar issues of alleged political persecution) and the Summer Olympics in Brazil within the next 4 years, (with human rights abuses relating to Brazilian street children arguably dwarfing the human rights issues in Ukraine and Russia).

When politics and sport collide the results are always interesting.  Let’s see how this unfolds.


A day of no surprises in Ukraine – EU/Ukraine summit

December 21, 2011

On the evening of the EU/Ukraine summit which has been consistently billed with more expectations than were ever possible since events relating to Ms Tymoshenko charged the dynamics of the EU/Ukrainian relationship, I was not in the slightest bit keen to discover the outcome in a timely way.

In fact I went out to dinner with an Interpol Ukrainian liaison officer and talked human rights, Euro 2012, policing and migration.  This I thought, would be far more interesting than a summit that would simply announce the successful end to the negotiations and no more.

It is what I have been predicting for four months or so here on the blog and there was nothing new to make me consider my position was misaligned.  I expected no surprises and I was right to do so.  Herman Van Rompuy’s subsequent speech was so predictable I could have written it myself in late September and there would have been no changes to it prior to delivery two days ago.

Paragraphs such as this written at the beginning of November now read rather well ” In the meantime I am led to believe that Ukraine is preparing to take a step back from the DCFTA and AA with the EU regardless, and may not be in a rush to initial these agreements anyway until there is more of a consensus within the EU over the prospects of Ukrainian membership in the future.”

With revised Russian gas deals still pending, initialing this document on 19th December, whether Ms Tymoshenko was in jail or not, may have been  particularly ill-timed.  It may be that some in power consider it is going to be easier to get a better deal out of Russia before any consideration over the release of Tymoshenko and the initialing, signing and ratification process commences with the EU.  Such a process is after all not swift, whereas concluding a revised deal with Russia over gas is likely to occur in a more immediate time frame.

A case of economic and neighbourly priorities in the immediate term when it comes to getting results.  Ms Tymoshenko and the EU can wait a little longer, a revised Russian gas deal cannot.  As predicted the AA and DCFTA will now sit on shelves in Ukraine and the EU to be dusted down sometime in the future and brought back to life at a far better time for both parites.

In short, I made the right decision to go out to dinner with the Interpol chap.  More so as Vladimir paid the bill as well!

Before I forget, that sticky bit of text relating to Ukraine’s eventual membership and the EU’s unwillingness to include such wording?  It was resolved as follows:

The EU “recognises Ukraine’s European choice and aspirations and confirms its European identity”

Reliable rumour is that the initialing of this now completed document will happen in February 2012 although nothing much will happen thereafter until the October 2012 elections which one assumes will have to be whiter than white as far as procedures and observers are concerned.

That is again something I stated here back on 16 August ” …….hardly anybody amongst the diplomatic luminary circles really thinks of Tymoshenko as a champion of democracy and thus she is not as relevant as free and fair (and internationally recognised as such) elections in October 2012. Those elections, rather than her fate, are therefore the key event to the ratification of the DCFTA and AA.”

Still, gazing into a crystal ball over such principled issues, it is hardly difficult to come up with an accurate prediction (even if made 14 months before the event).

That said, to progress that logic further, with the agreement on the shelf and initialed in February 2012, one can quite easily see it staying there until 2016 to allow Ms Tymoshenko to remain in jail and Mr Yanukovych  to get reelected as President.

That being the case, no matter how technically clean, transparent and honest the October 2012 elections may be, with Ms Tymoshenko in jail and unable to participate, by default (following EU sensibilities over the issue) any result will not be deemed free and fair because she cannot participate, even if her party does particularly well.

All idle speculation for now but should what I write turn out to become reality, it will be yet another day of no surprises in Ukraine.


Fans Consulates – Euro 2012

December 12, 2011

Now here is an interesting concept.  It maybe not a new idea directly out of the box of new ideas, but it is certainly an interesting concept for Ukraine.

Embassies for fans” situated along side relevant national embassies –  Blimey!

Me thinks the UK Consulate building is more appropriate than a tent pitched in the back garden of the Ambassadorial residence.  It simply wouldn’t do to have the lawn at the rear trampled and muddied by several thousand drunken Englishmen seeking advice having been conned by a landlord or leggy Ukrainian lovely let alone roughly refused entry into certain Kyiv clubs because they are the wrong colour Englishman.

What is more interesting still, is that it seems the fans will be advising the fans – Really?

One look at the Expat forums in Ukraine or about Ukraine and a fan can find all the bad advice they could possibly wish for.   Some forums are better than others, however the better ones will state what the law is as written and immediately follow it up with a caveat that whilst the law maybe consistent, interpretation and implementation can vary dramatically from region to region.  Thus even 100% correct information provided can in practice be completely irrelevant to circumstances faced by an individual.

Which fans are going to work next to their Embassy’s/Consulates and provide advice that may have absolutely no grounding in fact, or if it is indeed factually correct, proved irrelevant by local authority interpretation?

Would a national Embassy/Consulate want such a facility temporarily planted next to them?  Would it not be easier to simply have those with “issues” speak with the Consular staff as they normally would when in the mire?

Does a “Fans Embassy” situated next to the official Embassy/Consular building provide some form of faux authority and inference that any advice given is representative of the relevant government?

Does Ukraine think that the UK Embassy and Consulate in Kyiv will be completely unprepared for Euro 2012 and not already have plans (and hopefully contingency plans) in place?

Given the advice and personal assistance that the UK Embassy can and does give on a personal level for a UK citizen who comes unstuck in Ukraine, unless a fan loses their passport, dies or gets arrested, there is very little that will be done on their behalf.  Quite rightly too, the UK Embassy is not your mother and there to wipe your nose, read you a bedtime story and tuck you up in bed feeling all snug, warm and loved-up!

What more, exactly, is a “Fans Embassy” going to do?  In fact, considering it can’t replace your passport,  could possibly repatriate your dead body (but nowhere near as efficiently as the official UK FCO representatives), and would not be given access to visit a Brit in a cell, the question should be, what will a “Fans Embassy” actually do?

Hand out maps of Kyiv and Donetsk cities with the name written in English in case you get lost?  Hand out telephone numbers for English speaking lawyers, dentists, doctors and police?  Such things no doubt will be posted on the UK Embassy website temporarily during the competition.  They may even be available as an “App” download if the FCO is on the ball and tech savvy.

What is highly unlikely is that a “Fans Embassy” will get involved with a landlord dispute or mediate a resolution with a leggy Ukrainian lovely who some drunken fan feels wronged by after she has allowed him to wine, dine and dance the night away without the resulting Slavic notch on his bedpost.

A small handbook of Ukrainian/Russian phrases in English to point at when our drunken fan cannot get his tongue around such “complicated” sounding words?

A liaison point for taxis to the airport possibly?

Just what will the “Fans Embassies” be telling the fans that the existing Embassies/Consulates cannot or will not and just what exactly will the official Embassies and Consulates be prepared to let “Fans Embassies” tell those that find their way to them in some inferred “official” capacity?

Is it not going to be easier to simply set up twenty or so temporary “tourist/Euro 2012” information centres dotted around the hosting cities that have no inferred governmental affiliation to nations of visiting fans and thus any advice given will not result in a tempest of complaints to Foreign Ministries should the advice be “suspect”?

What, exactly, is the point of “Fans Embassies”?

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