The Fans' Embassy is in Donetsk!
The FSF Fans’ Embassy is up and running in sunny Donetsk! And great news – the feedback from England supporters has generally been very positive in regard to the city itself and the locals.
The most popular eating and drinking place already seems to be the Golden Lion, situated on Artema Street (the main drag) just down the road from the Fans’ Embassy. The venue is pub-like inside, while there is plenty of outdoor seating and space for flags. Upstairs, englandfans are hosting a ‘Fan Hub’ for EF Gold members card holders only. There are only 200 wristbands available for this, so if you’re desperate to access this we’d advise paying them a visit as early as possible.
However, we suspect that as more fans arrive into the city, many will also try out the picturesque Pushkin Boulevard for bars and restaurants. Staff at these venues so far seem to be very friendly and keen to help out, with many speaking English. There are also some ‘interesting’ sculptures and blooming flowers in the pedestrianised walkway in the centre of the boulevard, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Near the bottom of Pushkin and across the bridge is the Uefa Fan Zone, which again we’ve been impressed by. Situated by Shakhtar Donetsk’s old stadium, there are five big screens showing all the games, plenty of space and – more importantly – no or very little queuing time for food and drink. There are also a lot of clean toilet facilties.
And the current Shakhtar stadium, the Donbass Arena which will of course host England’s opening match against France on Monday evening, looks magnificent. We’re told shuttle buses will run to the stadium on matchday, though we suspect that most will walk given the short distance.
The match itself is completely sold out. The FA did return around 100 tickets, but we've been told these are no longer available.
In terms of accommodation, most seem to have gone for the campsite option, where there seems to be plenty of space and also means avoiding the £300-a-night average cost of a hotel room. There have apparently been some teething problems with registering new arrivals and finding records of those who have already booked ahead, so we are advising fans to take any paperwork with them to prove deposit payments etc – and prepare to wait a while during busy periods. Aside from that, feedback on the site has been very good, with decent security and washing facilities. Buy some earplugs if you’re a light sleeper though – the on-site disco goes on until about 6am every night.
As always, the Fans’ Embassy is on hand with information and advice, and copies of Free Lions – so come and pay us a visit or call the helpline with any issues. We’re situated in front of the statue of Shevchenko (the Ukrainian poet and artist, as opposed to the ageing striker) where Shevchenko Boulevard meets Artema Street. As well as today, we’re running between 10am and 5pm on matchday, and on the morning of the day after matchday.