Yesterday was a dark day, and no, I don’t just mean the British weather or Andy Murray’s defeat. Tears were shed, hopes were crushed, and I was not the only one to have complete despair.
Malmö has been given the hosting rights for Eurovision 2013.
Luckily, I have a right to feel angry by this with my position, as the co-ordinator of Stockholm’s branch of the Eurovision fan club, I actually have a duty to represent my members who have taken to the internet to vent their frustration at this.
However, I have to do so responsibly – I have no doubts that Malmö have a perfectly credible bid. It is the safest option; infrastructure is more well-known and works efficiently. It is not holding an Ice Hockey tournament at the same time. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, I’ve heard it oh so many times.
It also ties in with what was said at EBU’s Press Conference – in that they wanted a Eurovision that was more manageable, and one that did not require countries believing they needed to break the bank. The Malmö arena is expected to hold about 10,000 people for Eurovision, which will make it the smallest for 10 years.
Why – firstly – must the EBU have a Press Conference before Eurovision about Eurovision the year after? It is there only time to do so, the only time to get the questions and answers that people want, but it is counter-productive. By announcing their ideal dates and their long term view of the contest before the next winner, they put pressure on the host country to comply, without knowing what the conditions are going to be in the next country. Nobody from EBU would have expected prior to Eurovision 2011 the need for Azerbaijan to build the Crystal Hall – they can’t predict who is going to win. When Germany won, Germany insisted on changing the dates as it clashed with the German Cup Final – perfectly sensible – so you must wait, frustrating as it is, and see what the host country can do before making it look unfair. And yes, some countries would struggle to host, if they try and make it so much bigger all the time, but nobody would look badly on Albania if they win and need to scale back – we should always look to push boundaries of the contest, scaling back when we don’t need to does not give the song contest the platform it deserves.
Stockholm has the bid of the brand new international football stadium, capacity 65,000, 8 mins on the train from central station (so not far out like has been claimed by many). Problems yes – it is due to be finished soon so currently untested – ideally Stockholm would want to move dates – but problems partly at least pressurised by the EBU and their Press Conference that hasn’t let Sweden showcase itself to the best of ability. And, before you say anyway, Eurovision in Stockholm would love a 65,000 capacity stadium (probs around 35,000 for Eurovision) – the mistakes from Copenhagen in Parken have been learnt, and Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s Eurovision Final, will move their next year.
This is what makes is such a silly decision. Sweden is unique among Eurovision countries, it can and does big Eurovision shows every year, arguably with more style and substance. If anybody can do it, and do it big, by the click of their fingers, it is these guys. Furthermore, I am going to stick my prospective songwriting entrant into the contest hat on. Why compete to win Eurovision, win your final in the same country in a huge contest – the biggest ever – and then compete against all of Europe to a stage where one of your semi-finals for that contest is being held??? That would never happen in any other sport. When is it Sweden – you give them free reign – when it is San Marino winning – you help and guide them and pressure Italy to help.
The impression this gives to the rest of Europe too, about how much you care about the contest too is sad. I can hear Graham Norton’s commentary now, talking about ‘scaling back’ the contest, in ‘Europe’s harsh economic climate.’ But then, he’ll point out what I just did in the paragraph above – and all of Europe will just go – united – what the fuck?
Malmö is the easy option, the cop-out option, and indeed, that seems to have been the unique selling point of the bid. For a country pushing the Eurovision boundaries all the time, each and every year, they let many people down when it comes to our time to show the world what schlager is all about. I don’t think there is anything they can say or do to change my thought process, or that of the thousands of disappointed fans, on this.
Malmö now opens new headaches. After 2012 in Asia, Sweden brings in back to mainstream Europe. Expensive yes, but still expected to be one of the biggest Eurovision‘s in recent times for travelling fans. They are now all anxious about getting tickets to the final, both OGAE and non-OGAE. Malmö is already full of accommodation, and thus each day fans are going to be thrashing across the bridge each day between Denmark and Sweden (indeed, Copenhagen Airport is probably where most people will fly into).
Of course too, I let my own bitter and twistedness guide my judgement on this. I teach. I can’t really have time off. Eurovision just can’t happen for me – it’s a big two week party that for all the reasons above I had already started to consider about planning for my home town that has been taken away from me. I could possibly go to the Eurovision this year, but I’m not sure if I will – a mad scramble for tickets may begin – and if OGAE tickets are for the entire week as recent years they are worthless to me – and it is likely that even if I try I will miss out. To go for just a day hardly seems worth it, and maybe I should do my job in Stockholm instead and try and get a big screen put up somewhere to hold a huge party. Maybe just maybe. I don’t know, I can’t think – it is still shock and I find it all so devastating.
Or maybe I will be representing Sweden there, and bringing the competition to where it deserves to be in 2014…