World Soccer views and news
No food and crazy taxi drivers — the perils of Euro 2008
My non-journalist friends are very envious that I get to go to Euro 2008 matches for free.
If they had been with me to Italy’s 1-1 draw with Romania in Zurich, they might have changed their mind about the perks of my profession.
First of all, a colleague and I had to cram into a packed tram full of drunken fans to get to the Letzigrund stadium. This was a full three hours before kick off. Then we had a manic match to report on, the mixed zone to contend with (Sonia has already detailed the horrors there) and by the time we’d finished we discovered we were locked in.
It was only after we’d walked round the stadium to find a way out that the fun really started. First of all, we discovered that even with a big tournament going on you can’t get a meal in a Zurich restaurant at quarter to eleven at night. That was annoying but much worse was to follow.
After a long walk to a well-known fast food chain outlet, we decided to take a taxi back to the hotel. Our taxi driver was already in a foul mood and when another car cut him up, he went bonkers.
He raced alongside the other car shouting wildly. When the guy he was berating started to wind down his window and reach into his jacket, we genuinely feared he was going to whip out a gun. Our driver then sped in front of him and I fully expected us to get rammed.
We got back to the hotel alive, although I didn’t feel all that fresh when I woke up at 6 am to write a match follow-up and catch an early flight back to Vienna.
For no apparent reason, Italy have based themselves near the Austrian capital despite the fact they are playing their Group C matches in Switzerland.
My job doesn’t look so glamorous now, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Mark Meadows, following Italy at Euro 2008