Euro 2020: loyalties divided as British bars put the bunting for Croatian fans | Euro 2020
Ed Thomas has never shown the European Championships in his bar, but this time he has hung up the bunting and will watch his team play their first Euro 2020 opener with muffled glee.
But who to support in today’s England-Croatia match, a “rematch” of the 2018 World Cup semi-final? Because Thomas is half Croatian and half English.
Thomas, 28, is wisely diplomatic in his response. “I don’t care about this game. It’s the first of the groups and everyone gets into the rhythm. I didn’t consciously support either side in 2018, I just had to take what happened and run with it.
“I think England will win, but my support sometimes goes to my mother’s side in the family as she is always on her own, cheering on Croatia.”
Thomas was born in Whitstable, Kent, and his town cafe bar is named after his Croatian grandmother, Amedea.
“We have plenty of pictures of Amedea across the bar, as well as her beautiful paintings of flowers and some Istrian clothes and dance instruments. Fortunately, she is still alive. Of course, inside we also have a scattering of Croatian flags.
For Thomas, the hardest part of the day will be installing televisions to broadcast the football game.
He said: “The televisions will be propped up on cardboard boxes and I have to make sure they all work. We have never shown any sport before at the bar so everything is very overwhelming. “
In Glasgow, Zinfandel co-owner Marko Curic is optimistic. His two-leader system – one Scottish, one Croatian – means there is little appetite to support the Three Lions.
“So many Scottish fans have booked a table here to watch England vs Croatia. Most of that country will support Croatia. I’m sure we’ll win.
Paul Eastwood, 38, manager of the Famous Three Kings in West Kensington, west London, is also expecting a lot from Croatian football fans. He said: “The former manager ran the Cadogan Arms, at Chelsea, and it was full of a Croatian community. When we moved to our new location, we moved a lot of these Croatian crowds here. “
Eastwood generally broadcasts football matches in Croatian. “We have a Croatian satellite decoder, so we could show Croatian matches in the Croatian language. It’s a bit of a joke between us and the fans, and kind of a unique selling point. Today, however, it will broadcast in English.
“What tends to happen with different satellites is that they tend to be at slightly different times. One half of the room will start clapping, and the other room hasn’t seen this yet. that happened Some people may start to get annoyed by this.
What does he think of Croatian football fans? “They probably have a little more respect than the English fans,” he said. “Especially when we are operating on coronavirus restrictions, as singing and chanting are prohibited.”
For Thomas, even with the coronavirus restrictions in place, it will still be an event.
He said: “It will be a horrible and brilliant game to watch. My aunt and uncle on my mom’s side are here, guess we’ll just go in and celebrate whoever wins after.