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Football fever in the city

Unfortunately, Albania was disqualified from the championship due to the team only securing one win, but the EURO 2016 is far from over. There is still plenty of good football to be watched – here are some of our recommendations for where to do so.

It has been roughly two weeks since the start of EURO 2016, the 15th edition of the UEFA European Championship, and Kosovo, like all of Europe, is elated with football fever. Everybody –  children, young people, the elderly – is in #celebratefootball mode despite soaring temperatures. It seems that even the political and economic unrests that marked the first few months of this year, have taken a backseat.

This is the first time Albania is participating in the UEFA championship and Albanians around the globe are celebrating. They have never been more represented in the European Championship – not only because it is the first time that the Albanian team has qualified, but also because other participating teams feature Albanian players, including Germany’s rising talent Shkodran Mustafi and Switzerland’s six Albanian players.

On June 19, Albania played its third game in the EURO 2016 and after two previous defeats by Switzerland and France, Albania came out on top 1:0 against Romania. Prishtina welcomed the victory with joy. People celebrated deep into the night singing Albanian national songs and waving double-headed eagle flags from the windows of honking cars.

Unfortunately, Albania was disqualified from the championship due to the team only securing one win, but the EURO 2016 is far from over. There is still plenty of good football to be watched and we have compiled a list of recommended places to do so.

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Zahir Pajaziti square

For those who want to enjoy the games outside, both ends of Prishtina’s Mother Teresa boulevard have been turned into sites of the Football Fest. Large screens have been placed in both Zahir Pajaziti square and Skenderbeg square, creating festive outdoor spaces able to accommodate large groups.

At the Zahir Pajaziti square, people sit in an amphitheatre furnished with cushions and beergarden-style benches. The space is vibrant though comfortably uncrowded when Euro Cup favorites are not playing. Cold draft and bottled beer are available for purchase at each side of the square. If you are not in the mood for drinking or are respecting the holy month of Ramadan, try Peja’s latest alcohol-free product, Peja Beer Zero. (After Albanian defender Mergim Mavraj cited his religious beliefs as his reason for refusing to wear his team’s official gear showing Birra Peja’s logo, the corporation cheekily addressed this new product to the player with its “Especially for your Mergim :)” advertisements).

The atmosphere is family friendly and one can spot young parents with their babies, teenagers, and elderly all watching the games together. Nevertheless, this outdoor area is most comfortable for games played at 21:00 when skies are clear and the weather has cooled.

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Skanderbeg square

Just a couple of months ago, Skenderbeg square was ‘occupied’ by protesters who set up a tent camp in support of the opposition’s demand for a new government. Although the opposition continues to fight the Brussels-negotiated agreements with Serbia and the border demarcation deal with Montenegro, the boulevard itself looks quite different during this time of football-frenzy.

In Skanderbeg square, in addition to big-screen viewings of the matches, the Prishtina Football Fest also organizes activities in which various guests are invited to comment on the matches and where musicians can perform before or after games. White plastic chairs and tables provide close-knit seating. Qebapa (meatballs) are available right off the grill and fans can purchase both local and international beers, including Prishtina’s own local brand available on tap.

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Miqt Pub

Located behind the purple-glowing Swiss Diamond Hotel, Miqt pub is just a step away from the main boulevard. The cool interior and a newly renovated garden with a cocktail bar and big-screen projector make Miqt pub a great choice for watching the games. Colorful neon lights have been put up, making the garden look dreamy at night. Sheets placed above the seating blow in the wind and provide some much-needed shade. The place almost gives you the feeling of being in a bar at the coastline.

In this relaxing atmosphere you can spot youthful urbanites hanging out with their group of miq (Albanian for friends) drinking Peja beer and eating rather delicious chicken fingers. The football games can be watched on a big screen and two smaller TVs. Nonetheless, on weekends it usually becomes very crowded and service tends to be lacking. On one of these nights it is better to order two beers at once since it is unpredictable when you will be served next.

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Beer Garden

Beer Garden is a pub located at ‘Kafet e vogla’ (Small Cafes) on Fehmi Agani street.  A Scottish-Irish pub, it mostly attracts international crowds.

With its garden surrounded with flowers and trees, it has a lovely setting. The pub offers an extensive menu of beers, both international and local. Try the dark GremBeer, a beer produced in Klina but in the spirit of Bavarian varieties. Euro 2016 matches can be watched both outside and inside the pub. There are two TVs available outside, a large one in the center and a smaller one for groups to crowd around. Though at times the pub can be busy, Beergarden’s small and intimate space provides the perfect location for close friends to enjoy a beer and watch the game.

Photos by Atdhe Mulla.

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26 June 2016 - 14:34

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