Museums, cafes and Auschwitz await the Wags
THE WAGS are back. England will allow players' wives and girlfriends to stay in Krakow, the squad's Euro 2012 base, but they will be allowed into the team hotel only the day after matches.
England have booked the five-star Stary Hotel until the end of the tournament, choosing a city-centre location because they want to "embrace" the event.
The expectation is that some of the families will fly in and out of the Euros, simply attending games, although some may choose to base themselves in beautiful Krakow to be near their loved ones.
Sven-Goran Eriksson was criticised for allowing the Wags to stay in Baden Baden during the 2006 World Cup, leading to a nightly show of some of the Wags being photographed out on the town. Rio Ferdinand described it as a "circus".
The Wags, including Coleen Rooney (below), have been welcomed by the Mayor of Krakow. "We will prepare a special programme for the wives and partners of the footballers, so they can enjoy it,'' said Jacek Majchrowski.
"There are a lot of restaurants and nightclubs. There are all sorts of shops. If they would like to buy a beautiful fur, there are plenty of shops they can visit.
"I am sure they will enjoy our city. It depends on their interests, but there are lots of things to do.
"We have a lot of historical buildings that are really beautiful and worth visiting. We have quite a few interesting museums. We also have some beautiful examples of natural spaces. There is a beautiful and ancient forest. There is also a castle."
The English FA is aware that families will travel. "From what Fabio (Capello) has said to us so far, I don't believe there will be any formal trips organised or hotels set aside for the families, wives and girlfriends," said Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England.
"It's a big city. There's numerous hotels. Fabio has said when there is free time that he won't have a problem with the players meeting up with their families.
"We can all refer back to 2006. I would like to think we're not walking into another situation of that nature. We're in a bigger city. Krakow is very different to Baden Baden. There are 1,000 cafes and bars."
England are very keen to "embrace" the tournament, allowing the players to leave the hotel and wander around town rather than going stir-crazy as they did in Rustenburg during the 2010 World Cup.
"Fabio's said that he has a relaxed approach," added Bevington. "They will train in the morning. But when they have down-time in the afternoon that is an opportunity for the players being involved in supporting community and charity work while we're out here.
"It will be great to take the players out to do coaching sessions with local kids and see historical sights. We will definitely take the team to Auschwitz (which is nearby).
"We are already involved with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Holocaust Educational Trust. We will put a programme to Fabio and speak to him about that. We've already spoken to him about going to Auschwitz.
"We reflected on the World Cup extensively, as you would expect. We want to fully embrace the tournament. We are doing things very differently. We want to be good ambassadors for the sport and for the country. We spoke to the players' committee group. The players are very happy to be based in Krakow.
"The players can stay outside on the terraces at the hotel. If they want to engage with people they can go outside, walk around. It would give us a great deal of pleasure if we came here and performed very well on the pitch -- and off it as well."
The players will also be allowed to bring their own clothes, rather than spend their spare time in England tracksuits.
"Fabio was very keen that the players are encouraged to take alternative clothing to the football-branded tracksuits and polo shirts so that they have more freedom when they are out and about," said Bevington.
England will train in the modest Suche Stawy stadium.
While the pitch will be relaid to international standards, the stadium is the home of a club down on their luck -- Hutnik collapsed last year and had been reformed. A group of the club's female fans even stripped off to pose for a 2011 calendar to raise desperately needed money. It was not a photo-shoot fit for the Women's Institute. (© Daily Telegraph, London)