EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg: How It Was

by Anna de Nord
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EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg was an emotional time for every football lover. Saint Petersburg proudly hosted seven matches. Despite the pandemic, EURO 2020 turned out to be a lively and exciting sports event.

When you come to a city that hosts international football competitions, you realize that football goes beyond the stadiums. Apart from the matches, there are many other things that unite fans and make football more appealing.

Saint Petersburg would not be a cultural capital if it had not prepared a delightful entertainment program for all football fans. Take a look at EURO 2020 events that took place in the city.


EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg Stadium

Saint Petersburg was one of eleven cities that hosted the EURO2020 games. The matches took place at Saint Petersburg Stadium (also known as Gazprom Arena).

Saint Petersburg Stadium inside
Saint Petersburg Stadium inside

Saint Petersburg Stadium is situated on Krestovsky Island. The island is a picturesque place on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, with a theme park and a city park. By the way, the alley that leads to the stadium is called Football Alley. And indeed, before each game, thousands of fans roam there, under blooming lindens and close to the refreshing fountain.

Saint Petersburg Stadium is a new stadium that opened in 2017. In 2018, it hosted many World Cup 2018 games.

The capacity of Saint Petersburg Stadium is 68 000 people. In 2021, due to the covid-related restrictions, the stadium was only at 50 per cent capacity. Local mass media reported that approximately 20 000 fans attended each match — not a small number, right?

Saint Petersburg Stadium during EURO 2020
The stadium of Saint Petersburg is highlighted with the colours of the Belgian flag 🇧🇪
to mark Belgian victory over Finland in one of the group stage matches

Some people blame fans who travel during uncertain pandemic times. But if you have ever been to a stadium yourself, you know what the fans’ support means to the teams. Each time I am in the stadium, I feel like I am at the party. It is always a festivity!

I have to confess that there was an incident that I did not like:

I have been to Switzerland vs Spain match. At one point, when one of the Spanish players was standing near the Switzerland fan sector, the Swiss fans began to throw beer cups at that player! They have thrown at least thirty cups. The Switzerland captain had to come to the sector and ask the fans to calm down. It was ugly. I was so disappointed to see that disgrace happen.


New football metro station — Zenit

Right before the beginning of the tournament, a new metro station opened on Krestovsky Island — Zenit metro station. It is only a 10-minute walk from the stadium. The design of the station is a tribute to Zenit, the local football team of Saint Petersburg. In the vestibule, you can see the copies of the trophies that Zenit had won during its almost 100-year history.

New football metro station of Saint Petersburg — Zenit. The decorations is a tribute to the city's FC Zenit and its victories.
New football metro station of Saint Petersburg — Zenit. The decoration is a tribute to the city’s FC Zenit and its victories.

What was happening at the fan zones of EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg Stadium was not the only place where football fans could hang out. In 2021, fan fests in Saint Petersburg were not as crowded and busy as before. However, their lively entertainment programs attracted a lot of people.

Traditional Russian souvenirs — matryoshka, EURO 2020 style
Traditional Russian souvenir — matryoshka, EURO 2020 style

• Fan zone at Konyushennaya Square

The main EURO 2020 fan zone was located at Konyushennaya Square. It is a square in the centre of Saint Petersburg, next to the famous Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. This fan zone was open during the whole tournament, from June 11 to July 11.

On the square, they installed a large screen where matches of the tournament were broadcasted.

Each day, there were concerts and fun contests for all attendants. People could take photos in special photo zones, buy souvenirs, and win prizes in different competitions. I won a raincoat after answering a couple of questions about the history of Saint Petersburg!

A concert at the Fan zone on Konyushennaya Square
A concert at the Fan zone on Konyushennaya Square
Photo zones for EURO 2020 fans
Photo zones for EURO 2020 fans

• Fan zone at Palace Square

The second fan zone opened at Palace Square, in front of the Hermitage Museum. It existed for a shorter period, ten last days of EURO 2020. There also was a large screen where people could watch the quarter and semi-finals and the final.

I planned, surely, to go to Palace Square to enjoy football in such a luxurious atmosphere. But I could not because of the weather. June and July 2021 are extremely hot in Saint Petersburg. The temperatures are +35°C during the day and +25°C at night. Nights do not bring any refreshments. Besides, it is the period of white nights — and the day lasts 19 hours!

By the way, the average summer temperature in Saint Petersburg is +20°C. In summer 2021, we had many days with record-breaking temperatures, often 15 degrees hotter than usual.

Long story short, I did not feel I would be able to spend 2-3 hours under the sun, with no sign of shadow, on a heated asphalt, when it was +35°C outside. So, unfortunately, I missed visiting the Palace Square fan zone.

Fan zone EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg. Palace Square
Palace Square is undergoing preparation works before becoming a EURO 2020 fan zone

Exhibitions dedicated to EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg

But the matches at the stadium and the fan zones were not enough for Saint Petersburg! Other events brought even more football to our everyday life.

• Exhibition ‘Apartment n.60’ about the life of football players and football fans in the Soviet times

The ‘Apartment n.60’ is an exhibition dedicated to the victory of the USSR in the Euro Cup in 1960
The ‘Apartment n.60’ is an exhibition dedicated to the victory of the USSR in the Euro Cup in 1960

One of those events was the exhibition ‘Apartment n.60’. This interactive exposition was dedicated to the victory of the USSR in the Euro Cup in 1960.

The installation represents the interior of a Soviet apartment from the 60s. This apartment ‘belongs’ to a family of passionate football fans.

A Soviet-style apartment of a family of football fans
A Soviet-style apartment of a family of football fans

At the exposition, you could see furniture and devices of the 60s, a copy of the 1960 ‘France Football’ newspaper dedicated to the victory of the USSR national team over the Yugoslav team, an official copy of the European Cup, as well as the original Ballon d’Or of the Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin, who was recognized as the best football player in Europe in 1963.

Legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin and his Ballon d'Or
Legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin and his Ballon d’Or

The most interesting feature of the ‘Apartment n.60’ was the combination of displayed items and a video show. I could not only sit in an old armchair but also watch, like in a cinema, short movies about the tournament and listen to the players’ stories. Those movies enriched the impressions of the exhibition!

It was a guided tour that required no human guide. For the era of social distancing, it is a good solution. Old things and new technologies add value to each other. That is what I appreciate in modern exhibitions.

And one more event dedicated to EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg. It is quite unusual but so enjoyable that I can not skip telling you about it.

• Art exhibition ‘Unity’ — a mix of art and football

The exhibition of modern Russian artist Pokras Lampas opened in Saint Petersburg on June 11.

Pokras Lampas is a young artist from Saint Petersburg. He defines his works as futuristic calligraphy. Despite his young age, Pokras is already a world-known artist and had exhibitions throughout the world.

The ‘Unity’ was not just an exhibition. It was, in fact, an open studio where visitors could see the artist in the process of creating the paintings.

Especially for UEFA EURO 2020, Pokras Lampas created a concept based on the word ‘unity’. It is a collection of paintings. On each artwork, there is the word ‘Unity’ written in the languages of the countries participating in the championship: in Russian, Belgian, Spanish, Finnish, Turkish, French, etc.

The Unity: an art exhibition by Pokras Lampas dedicated to the participants of EURO 2020
The Unity: an art exhibition by Pokras Lampas dedicated to the participants of EURO 2020
Pokras Lampas at work
Pokras Lampas at work
Each artwork is dedicated to one of the countries-participants of EURO 2020
Each artwork is dedicated to one of the countries-participants of EURO 2020
‘Unity’ artwork for England
‘Unity’ artwork for England

As Pokras says, he wanted to show the unifying power of football. And to emphasize the connection between art and football: ‘People from all over the world come together to watch a match and share their emotions. Different languages and cultures intertwine — that’s all about it. The same happens in art’.

Pokras Lampas also created another open-air artwork for EURO 2020 — the Square of Unity. In the park on Krestovsky Island, on the way to the stadium, there is a fountain. Around the fountain, there is a round-shaped painting made of interlaced words ‘unity’ written in different languages.

On the way to Saint Petersburg Stadium: Square of Unity on Krestovsky Island
On the way to Saint Petersburg Stadium: Square of Unity on Krestovsky Island

Congratulations to Italy!

EURO 2020 is over, and I feel a little bit sad because it has come to an end so quickly. It was a fascinating time full of joys and sorrows that brightened this summer.

At the end of this post, I would, first of all, thank all those who created that fantastic atmosphere: UEFA, players, coaches, volunteers, and fans. EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg was a great time for all football lovers.

And I sincerely congratulate Italy on their win in EURO2020. The photo is not mine, but I love the moment when the winners raise the Cup! Ah, those happy faces! I wish I could take a photograph like that by myself.

© GETTY IMAGES / MICHAEL REGAN / POOL / AFP
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