EDITORIAL – After fifty years, after fifty long years since 1964 of waiting for our moment in the spotlight, Portugal had grown very sceptical. Not only of itself as a participant in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) but of the ESC in general. A strong, doubly negative and defeatist disdain had instilled where, on one hand we could never send any song to the ESC worthy of winning because Europe didn’t appreciate our talent and on the other, we could not win for structural reasons ranging from winner rigging to political and economic interests which excluded us off hand; to the fact that we have only one neighbour, Spain and that ESC was all about neighbour voting. It was commonplace to hear “I’ve stopped paying attention to the ESC. We’re never going to win …” usually followed by one of the reasons above mentioned and that would be the extent of the conversation. OGAE-Portugal seemed ever more isolated and small in numbers as compared with chapters in other countries and my range of people with whom I could have any type of lengthy or at least non-cynical ESC conversation seemed ever more limited to OGAE-Portugal.
However, 2017 seems to be a turning point and one full of curious coincidences. The ESC final was held on May 13th, if you are a devout catholic, then your will probably have heard about the miracle of Fátima, but I will come back to this later. In my case, I was in the International Exhibition Centre in Kiev, Ukraine watching the ESC in anticipation. Whilst happy about Salvador Sobral’s performance, nothing could have prepared me for what came next.
I had gone to the bar in the Exhibition Centre during the interval acts as the votes were being collected, to calm my nerves. While I was ordering, the counting started and I did not hear the first few voting results. When I finally returned to the main hall, Israel was sadly bidding farewell to the ESC and I was stunned and baffled upon seeing that Portugal was at the top of the voting results when the Israeli announcer announced twelve points for Portugal and in Portuguese. I tried to ease the tension by telling myself that this was only the beginning and anything could still happen. Providing temporary relief, to my state of anxiety, the twelve points just kept rolling in from country after country.
The public votes were in, Portugal was ahead, the jury votes were still to come. Terrified of raising my hopes too high and ending up bitterly disappointed, I reminded myself of ESC 2016 when the Ukraine unexpectedly (for me) won. The jury vote could be a game changer and the public votes themselves were not enough to secure victory.
The tension of the jury vote kept me on the edge of my seat as the final points were being attributed. At any time, Portugal could have been called out and other close contenders could have walked away with victory. I kept hearing what sounded to me like a battle cry; the three familiar syllables POR-TU-GAL being cried out as the final result came closer. In the end, only Bulgaria and Portugal had yet to be attributed jury votes. I am no expert in math nor had I done the math but from what I was thinking at the time, victory could have gone either way. I was hoping and praying “My dear Lady of Fátima, please let victory be ours, just this once.” While “POR-TU-GAL” was being cried out ever louder and sure enough, the second highest attribution of points went to “BULGARIA” meaning the highest went to Portugal. At this point I almost lost my voice screaming and cheering for my country. Yes, after 50 years of participating, victory came as a shock.
Meanwhile, Lisbon was celebrating Benfica’s football triumph on the street. Large mobile monitors had been placed for fans to watch and celebrate. Even the football transmission was suddenly interrupted and switched broadcasting to the ESC, at the point when the voting was being announced. For Portugal, this was epic. Nothing, no NOTHING gets in the way of a football celebration … nothing except for an ESC victory.
Unexpectedly and perhaps even miraculously, Portugal, won on the 13th of May, coinciding with the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fátima where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared on the 13th of May, 1917, to three young shepherds near the town of Fátima in Portugal. Ironically too and please let me highlight the following coincidence, Portugal won the ESC a year after winning the Euro Football League in 2016, in Kiev, Ukraine, as did Greece in 2005 after winning the Euro Football League in 2004, in Kiev, Ukraine.
Today, suddenly and unexpectedly, it is possible to again talk about the ESC to someone you may not know very well. Portugal’s victory has rekindled broader interest in Portugal in the ESC, no longer is perceived as our nemesis. For the first time in a decade, victory was attributed to a song not sung in English to a country which had never sent a song in English to the ESC on year of the start of Brexit negotiations.
GREECE – After the incident with the ERT president shouting “shut up” to former parliamentarian demonstrating at the anniversary of ERT re opening, the ERT president is ridiculing the national broadcaster once again.
Yesterday the new CEO was approved by the Greek parliament. Mr Kostopoulos, the new ERT CEO, was suppose to take over his new duties today but as we read in Greek press and fan sites, ERT President Mr Tsaknis has locked his office and asked the security not to allow Mr Kostopoulos in the premises.
The two men have a rivalry from the past as there was legal dispute between the Mr Kostopoulos and ERT plus the latest statements of Mr Kostopoulos that ERT must be renovated and take more initiatives, open up to the market and public.
ERT’s President tried to stop the Parliament’s decision by filing restraining orders for Mr Kostopoulos something which was rejected by the court.
While Mr Tsaknis is one of the government’s favourite child, there is no reaction by the Prime minister yet and the crisis escalates.
Let’s not forget that Mr Tsaknis according to the Greek press has asked the government to take over also as ERT CEO. This man is also responsible for the two messy choices of Greece in Eurovision: in 2016 with his direct selection of his personal friends, Argo group and in 2017 with an entry which never supported.
What a Greek mess!
PORTUGAL – Lisbon, the capital of Portugal is proclaimed the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest host city and for the very first time we will attend an event in this beautiful city. Here are some factoids about the city you should know.
PORTUGAL – Portuguese national broadcaster not only revealed the Eurovision 2018 host city, venue and dates but also revealed information bout their national selection, Festival da Canção 2018.
The Portuguese broadcaster revealed that Festival da Canção 2018 final will take place on March 4th in the city of Guimarães as already announced by oikotimes.com. Guimarães is a city in the North serving as the capital of Portugal in the past.
There will be two semi finals on February 18th and 25th respectively.
The organisers though have bigger plans for Festival da Canção: in the next four years the national festival of the country will tour around four different cities of the country in order for the entire population to be part of it. The last time the national selection took place outside of Lisbon was in 2001, at Europarque in Santa Maria da Feira.
It was also revealed that the Mayor of Guimarães gave Multiusos de Guimarães free of charge for the national final.
PORTUGAL – During a press conference this afternoon RTP and the European Broadcasting Union revealed Lisbon as the official host city of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest which will take place on May 8 (First Semi Final), May 10 (Second Semi Final) and May 12 (Grand Final). It has also been announced that the national selection Festival da Canção, will be hosted in the first capital of the country, up in the north in the city of Guimarães.
Jon Ola Sand, the EBU’s Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, said “We are very pleased to announce that RTP will be hosting the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon. Both the City and the venue have presented exemplary proposals, and we look forward to working together to make Portugal’s first ever Eurovision the most exciting one yet. We would like to congratulate RTP on their professional and detailed assessments of all the bids.”
Gonçalo Reis, the CEO of RTP, said “Hosting the Eurovision 2018 is a great opportunity for Portugal, Lisbon, the entertainment industry, and RTP. We look forward to organizing an event that will show our creative capabilities.”
GERMANY – Two Eurovision winners with an impact to the contest met in Berlin: Céline Dion (Switzerland 1988) and Conchita Wurst (Austria 2014) met yesterday in Berlin at the Mercedes Arena as Céline was giving a huge sold out concert in Germany.
Conchita stated: “Greeted me with the words ‘I love what You do’ Then she danced with me. I could not be more happy. The woman who tought me singing, knew me. I am still in heaven.”
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