Emotions are high and security level even higher as kickoff draws near between the old Cold War center pieces. (The match is second up today, at 2:45 p.m. ET.)
I’m no expert on security or geopolitics, but I’m thinking that Polish cabinet members probably didn’t help by ending their weekly session holding aloft Poland team scarves and repeating a traditional fan chant: “Into battle, Poles, into battle.”
Meanwhile, thousands of Russian fans are planning Russia Day celebrations inside the Warsaw city center; hoping to inspire their team on a national holiday, one marking the 1990 declaration of Russia’s independence from the Soviet Union.
I’ve been to international sporting events with heavy political undertow, and believe me, it’s tense. I will never forget the feeling (not to mention the concentric rings of security that required everyone to do extra hiking that day) around the United States-Iran match at World Cup 1998. Like I said, tense.