Euro 2012 being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine got under way on Friday as European football’s showpiece international competition came behind the former Iron Curtain for the first time.
The month-long festival of football started with a 20-minute opening ceremony in front of a capacity 50,000 crowd at Warsaw’s National Stadium, combining music and dance celebrating the eastern European countries’ rich heritage.
Co-hosts Poland take on Greece, the surprise winners of the 2004 competition, in the first of 31 games at eight venues in the two countries, with the final in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on July 1.
Hordes of colourful fans and half-naked female protestors descended on a rain-soaked Warsaw Friday ahead of the kick-off.
For an American, these photos are truly breathtaking. For most of our lives Russia has been an impenetrable vast region, indeed the largest country in the world, with millions of acres of natural wonders.