KIEV (Reuters) - Swedish meatballs have been in short supply and their team departed Euro 2012 on Tuesday, but that has not stopped two Scandinavian entrepreneurs continuing to help feed and quench the thirst of fans still streaming into Kiev.
With Sweden playing their three group games in the Ukraine capital, two Swedish businessmen found a local partner to help set up the ‘Swedish Corner’ in the Kiev Fan Zone, where they have been serving beer and food since the tournament began.
“We’ll be here until after the final, it’s been a lot of hard work but a lot of fun too. We even got to see some of the games,” Fredrik, a Swedish bartender, told Reuters.
Sharing the same colours as the host country, the Sweden and Ukraine fans turned the Fan Zone into a sea of yellow and blue during the opening phase of the tournament.
Fredrik and his colleagues have worked flat-out, serving beer and pizza to fans from all over the world.
Ukrainian import restrictions on food put a stop to them serving genuine Swedish meatballs, but that has not stopped fans from enjoying their fare. “Every football fan loves beer and pizza,” said Fredrik.
Each night, a singer and guitarist entertained the crowds with Swedish folk and pop songs, and there were regular visits from cult former footballer Glenn Hysen, whose son Tobias was part of Erik Hamren’s Sweden squad.
The city of Kiev released statistics following the group stage, revealing that 1.25 million people had visited the Fan Zone on Khreschatyk Street in the first 12 days of Euro 2012.
Between them, they drank 200,000 liters of beer, ate eight kilometers of sausages, one metric ton (1.1023 ton) of ice cream, and 60,000 hot dogs.
In all, 263 metric tons of waste was generated within the Fan Zone, and it took 17 garbage trucks to transport it away from the area.
With the group stage over and Sweden out, Fredrik said that demand had fallen off a little, but he expected it to pick up again before England face Italy in the last eight in Kiev on Thursday.
“You can see that there aren’t as many people here today - a lot of gone home, and it’s also very hot in the sun during the day so no-one wants to sit here,” he said, pointing to the rows of empty benches.
”The heat causes problems for the beer pumps too. They stopped working yesterday, but we have bottled beer as a back-up.
“They’ll start arriving soon, and we’ll be ready for them,” he said of the imminent arrival of England and Italy fans, adding that he may swap his yellow Sweden shirt for the white of England to help sales.
“We have enough beer for the Englishmen too,” he smiled.
‘Swedish Corner’ will be dismantled after the July 1 final in Kiev and Fredrik and his crew will begin the two-day drive back home to Landskrona, near Malmo.
Editing by Justin Palmer