Fans were the real stars of Euro Championship

Associated Press

Lisbon, July 5:

On the pitch, Greece was the winner of Euro 2004. But the best performers in the three-week tournament may have been the fans. Not once during the 31 games did patriotism spill over into ugly scenes despite a series of nerve-wracking games between old-age rivals. Hooliganism, so long the sco-urge of the game in Europe, never had a direct impact, making Euro 2004 the most incident-free championship in two decades. “Forca, Forca,” — “go for it” in Portuguese — fans from both countries shouted in unison at the sold-out 65,000-seat Stadium of Light on a balmy on Sunday night. When it was over, Greek fans went delirious with joy after scoring the biggest upset in the championship history with a 1-0 win over the hosts. They immediately turned their corner of the stands into Europe’s biggest party, when the players came over to share in the revelry. For the Portuguese, it was time to turn melancholy. The Portuguese fans sang “Ole Portugal” one last time in the dying minutes and soon, many were in tears. Portugal’s foremost fan, PM Joao Durao Barroso, glumly stared straight ahead from the honorary stand, still wearing his “lucky” red-green-and-gold tie. On Sunday, it failed to do the trick.