In the UK and Ireland, an old saying goes: “Football is a gentlemen’s game played by thugs and rugby is a thug’s game played by gentlemen”. Whatever is true, both games are followed by an increasing number of HIPs (hardly informed people) in their VIP lounges.
Case in point: GI recently watched the match between Russia and Germany at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Whereas the result of the encounter is well-known (Germany won 1:0), leading to the eventual demise of the Russian national team in the world cup qualification, GI focuses more on the VIP aspect of it.
Certainly, there is first class and second class VIP treatment. Whereas the Russian nomenklatura had their own, ultimate luxury treatment in the President’s lounge, us as mere mortals (although important ones – ignoring the masses in the rest of the stadium), we got our scarves and T-Shirts as well. I mean that seems to be what average VIP treatment at sport events is about: you get two or three pieces of cloth, either a shabby watch or a medal for remembrance, and the catering level of the late Seventies. Actually, some non-descript soup, sandwiches and some pirozhki. That’s about it!
Which is (GI was gladly invited!) a rather expensive proposition anyway – the downside was about EUR 1.500 to EUR 2.500, depending where you bought your tickets.
The only real HIP in that section was the former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who must have felt rather humbled, given that his great buddy Vladimir P. did not ask him up for the real McCoy (see before). We shivered through the ninety minutes and luckily our Creative Director smuggled some inspiring stuff into the stadium, making the whole experience much more enjoyable (and the loss of the Russian side more bearable).
GI later ended up at the O2-Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton (see separate post) with a bunch of German fans – meeting German telecaster Johannes B Kerner and Lothar Matthäus, a record German soccer player, who enjoyed the company of his wife’s family, her being a twenty-year old aspiring model from Ukraine.
Our take: second class VIP treatment is a difficult proposition. Either hang with the fans (and some decent vodka) or befriend the real big shots, for that matter … and any other.