Irish fans wave a large flag prior to a Euro 2012 soccer match between Spain and Ireland at the old town in Gdansk, June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Peter Andrews
KIEV, Ukraine - While other fan bases were humiliating themselves with violence and hooliganism at Euro 2012, Irish eyes were always smiling.
And UEFA certainly noticed.
As a result, the governing body of European football has decided to acknowledge the Irish supporters with a unique honour for their classy dedication and admirable behaviour during the tournament.
“The (UEFA) executive committee has decided to give a special award to the Irish football fans,” UEFA secretary general Giani Infantino told a press conference here on Saturday.
“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. (UEFA) president (Michel) Platini will go to Ireland to give the award.”
Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland national squad went 0-3 in the group stage and was statistically the worst side in the competition.
But that didn’t stop the loyal Irish backers from endearing themselves into the hearts of the Polish people. In fact, a Poznam-based newspaper ran the headline “‘The Irish! We will miss you!” after Trapattoni’s squad was eliminated.
Perhaps the best example of the upstanding Irish fans came when they serenaded a female riot cop in Poznam with the words “We Love You.” The incident, which was recorded and put on YouTube, already has had 1.2 million viewers.
“Nothing like this has ever happened to me in my life. I’m very flattered,” officer Natalia Rogodzinska told the Irish Republic. “It was great fun and the Irish fans were great fun too.”