We’re just two months away from one of the biggest international football tournaments in the world, the European Championship. A whole continent is gearing up to descend on Poland and Ukraine and cheer their home nations on as they vie for one of the biggest prizes in the game. As long as they can avoid the rampant disease and unchecked hooligan element, it should be an absolute blast.
According to reports, Ukraine is currently in the midst of a full-blown measles epidemic. 5,000 cases have already been reported in 2012, and experts believe the disease will only spread further between now and June. It doesn’t help that Ukrainians have turned their back on the measles vaccine after a highly publicized death in 2008.
As a result, the national coverage rate for two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella combined vaccine, the only effective preventive measure, fell to 41 percent in 2010 from more than 95 percent in 2006, according to the World Health Organization and ECDC. A national coverage rate of at least 95 percent with two doses is considered necessary to achieve region-wide elimination.
Nice one, Ukraine. Now one of the most highly contagious human diseases is just floating about, ready to pick off visitors coming to you country from all from around Europe. Fantastic hospitality. Let’s just go ahead and give Slavko, the Ukrainian twin from the scary mascot pair, tiny red bumps. In the name of accuracy.
Measles are a silent scourge. Euro fans hitting Ukraine won’t have to stare measles in the face as they go about their revelry. Hooligans, on the other hand, with their drunkenness and violent manner, can immediately ruin the fun.
So it’s troubling that Poland is just now getting around to updating their database of hooligans. UEFA regulations prohibit any fan carrying a stadium ban from entering the tournament grounds, but as Polish police are having trouble securing information about banned fans, there’s a pretty good chance that they won’t know which fans to bar.
“There’s no functioning list in Poland of individuals hit by stadium bans abroad, because the police have been too slow in setting it up,” Jacek Jezierski, head of Poland’s National Audit Chamber was quoted by AFP.
“To date, there haven’t been any agreements with foreign partners and there aren’t any legal norms for this.
“This could hamper police efforts to ensure security at Euro 2012, both inside the stadiums and out.”
So while Ukraine spreads disease among jolly travelers, Poland’s failures mean the tournament will also be attended by Europe’s most destructive fans. Is this a continental championship or a post-apocalyptic society?