For many football fans around the world it seems that we have been waiting a life time for the start of Euro 2012 and now finally it is with us. Football is a subject which attracts the attention of millions of people, creates millions of different views and opinions and is very often spoken about in the same terms of religion in some areas of the world. Football, and sport in general, does play a major role in the worldwide economy and can in many ways have an impact upon economic activity.
We thought it would be interesting to carry out a poll on the expatforum.com website to see which teams were favourites at the Euro 2012 tournament. Many of the voting patterns will be predictable but there are some anomalies between different countries.
The Euro 2012 tournament began just a few days ago with matches played in Poland and the Ukraine after they were awarded the tournament by footballing officials some time ago. There was initial concern regarding the potential financial strength of both Poland and the Ukraine and their ability to deliver not only state-of-the-art stadiums but also an infrastructure which would support the mass influx of fans from around the globe. Thankfully many of these concerns appear to have been overdone and the initial feedback from the tournament has been very positive indeed. The two governments have delivered exactly what they promised.
Even in times of trouble it is often easy to negate the impact that sport, and in particular football, can have on the worldwide population. However, when you take into account the worsening economic situation throughout Europe, and more problems around the world, in the eyes of many football fans Euro 2012 has come at the perfect time. It offers football fans the opportunity to dream the dream, believe their team can be victorious and for at least a very short space of time, forget their troubles and support their team. This may sound very simplistic but if you ask football fans around the world they will reflect these views.
This tournament in particular has attracted an array of interest with regards to the eventual winners with old favourites such as Germany, Spain, England, Italy, etc often grabbing the headlines. However, the reality is that any team playing at Euro 2012 has won the right in their own way to play in the tournament and can at least dream the dream until they are knocked out. Football fans around the world will, even if your team is victorious, experience a rollercoaster of emotions and often feel physically and emotionally drained at the end of each game. That is football for you!
Germany (18.18% of the vote)
It will come as no surprise to those who follow football to learn that the German national team amassed 18.18% of the vote amongst expats living in Canada. This is a team which has been there, done it and worn the T-shirt on more than one occasion in the past and a team which is full of flair, belief with a very strong backbone. There are few people who would bet against a German victory in Euro 2012 but it will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination.
While looking at the chances of the German national team lifting the Euro 2012 trophy we thought it would be interesting to look at the relative economies of the favoured teams. The German economy has been very strong for some time and is in many ways the backbone of Europe during this difficult period. Many believe that Chancellor Merkel effectively holds the key to unlocking a solution for the European financial debacle but she is under pressure from German voters to protect their finances and ensure that they do not end up propping up the rest of Europe. A very tricky position to be in!
Holland has received a significant amount of the vote amongst expats living in Canada which is slightly at odds with the rest of the online poll. From a football point of view there is no doubt that the Dutch team has flair, determination and more than enough skill to succeed in Euro 2012 but it is the team spirit which has let the Dutch down in the past. There were high hopes that infighting and friction between various cliques would disappear in Euro 2012 but this does not appear to be the case.
While the Dutch economy does not necessarily demand headline news across Europe it is still an integral part of the Eurozone. Like so many other European economies it has slipped back into recession and while the Dutch government is hopeful it will return to growth in the latter part of 2012, many experts believe this is optimistic to say the least. In many ways the economy is at the beck and call of Italy and Spain which are both on the verge of economic collapse.
There are a significant number of UK expats living in Canada therefore it is a little surprising to learn of the relatively low support for the national team during Euro 2012. Whether it is the fact that various key members have been injured, this is possibly the worst team for 30 years or the blind faith we have experienced in the past has disappeared remains to be seen. However, many people believe that with little or no pressure on the England team and little or no expectations they may well surprise on the upside. Time will tell!
The UK economy, while not part of the Eurozone and having not adopted the euro, has obviously been impacted by the imploding of the Eurozone economy as a whole. Despite the fact that the UK government is on the outskirts of the Eurozone it is worth noting that billions of euros have been contributed by the UK authorities to extremely large bailout packages. This has irked many UK voters who see reduced investment in public services yet the authorities are able to find money to support ailing European economies. How can that be? The reality is that the UK economy depends heavily upon European trade and has a vested interest in supporting the Eurozone as a whole.
Yet again it is a little surprising to see Spain so far down the popularity table amongst expats living in Canada. This is a country which is now looking to take its third major football trophy in succession having been victorious at the last World Cup and the last European Championships. While there are some who believe that the current Spanish team is moving towards the end of its shelf life there are others who believe there is at least one more big tournament left in this squad. Those who write off Spain do so at their peril!
If only we could be as optimistic and as upbeat about the Spanish economy as we are about Spain’s chances of lifting the trophy at Euro 2012. The economy is currently on the brink of collapse and this week we saw the yield on Spanish sovereign debt rise to the 7% tipping point at which many people believe there is no return. The country is already in possession of a €100 billion banking bailout package although if the economy continues to weaken then a bailout package for the overall economy would dwarf this. Spain is literally on the verge of collapse.
It is astonishing to see that expats in Canada believe that the French national team has little or no chance of being victorious at the Euro 2012 tournament. Remember, this is a team which is currently on a 20 match unbeaten run and is seen by many as one of the tournament favourites with strength in depth and more flair players today than ever before. It will be interesting to see how far the French team progresses and indeed whether they live up to their billing as one of the pre-tournament favourites.
The situation at home is nowhere near as upbeat and optimistic as the prospects for the French national team. There has been a major shift in the political arena and the economy continues to head downwards in line with many other European economies. While France was very often seen at the head of the European decision making table it has now slipped to a lower position after voters chose to install a left-wing government. There are many who believe that France will eventually require a financial bailout from its European partners although Spain and Italy may need to collapse for this to happen.
Historically there are few countries in the world which have the same football standing, football style and football belief than that associated with the Italian national team. However, over the last few years we have seen damaging accusations regarding financial regularities and alleged match fixing which have cast a very dark shadow over Italian football. Indeed there are many who believe that Italy has little or no chance of success at Euro 2012 despite the fact it has some of the best football players in the world. Can the Italian team pull back from the abyss and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?
The situation with regards to the Italian economy is no better than the situation surrounding the Italian national team with further problems expected in the short to medium term. The economy is well and truly in recession and despite promises of various austerity measures there is serious concern about the ability of the government to fund public services in the short to medium term. The yield on Italian sovereign debt continues to rise and many experts believe it is just a matter of time before a financial bailout is required. Perhaps a win at Euro 2012 would at least lift the dark clouds for some short period of time?
In many ways it seems as though expats in Canada either have little interest in the Euro 2012 competition or else they prefer the less fancied teams. Amongst a number of tongue in cheek comments regarding other potential winners were predictions supporting the likes of Croatia, Russia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic along with the Republic of Ireland. Whether or not some of these comments were grasping at straws is open to debate but the truth is that any team competing at the Euro 2012 tournament has earned the right to be there and earned the right to believe.
If there is one thing which is shining out like a beacon in relation to the Euro 2012 tournament it is the ability of football to allow people to step away from their personal financial woes and step into their own dreamland where their team wins the tournament. This may sound shallow and comical in some ways but when you bear in mind the current economic turmoil sweeping the world then perhaps the chance to forget our woes for just a short period of time is worth its weight in gold? Football has that ability, sport has that ability and thankfully at least one group of football supporters within Europe will be celebrating come the end of the tournament. Will it be your team?
Expats in Canada
The voting pattern from expats in Canada in relation to potential winners of the Euro 2012 tournament was surprising to say the least. Football is perhaps not one of the more popular sports in Canada which does seem to have been reflected in the online poll. However, there are football fans in Canada, there are expat communities who will be following their former homeland teams and there is interest in the tournament.
Interestingly, Canada is perhaps one of the strongest economies in the world and has remained relatively strong during these challenging economic times. It is also attracting more than its fair share of expats from around the world and in many ways reflects the ongoing strength in Australia where an abundance of natural resources has given the relative governments hope for the future.
Where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
One side issue which has arisen as a result of the online poll regarding the Euro 2012 competition is the issue of where and how fans will be able to watch the live games. Fan such as those in the UK very often take the free to view services available for granted but we must remember these are not always available in foreign lands. It is however becoming more and more apparent that while the more popular satellite TV channels have certainly bought into the Euro 2012 story there is also major interest from perhaps less well known satellite TV channels across the globe.
In reality, whether you are looking to watch the game at home, with friends or perhaps in some circumstances down at your local pub with a pint or two, the options are there. Football is a global phenomenon and not only does it have the ability to let you detach yourself from everyday life for a short period of time but it also offers the ability to interact with total strangers. In the eyes of many people football is very similar to religion.
How do sporting tournaments impact on local economies?
In order to find out how major sporting events can impact upon local communities and local economies all you need to do is look at the Ukraine and Poland. These two governments have invested significant amounts of money in not only new football stadiums but also massive upgrades to their infrastructure systems to accommodate the influx of football fans for the tournament itself. This has obviously assisted with employment numbers but, as we have seen time and time again, it has also helped to nurture a feelgood factor as fans wait for the tournament to start.
It is also worth taking into account the ability of victory at such tournaments to instil confidence and optimism within the circles of victorious fans. Can you imagine the massive boost a victory for the England team would give the English contingent? Did you see the impact which the Spanish victories at the last World Cup and the last European Championships had on their population?
While many of these impacts are relatively short lived they can lead to increased economic activity and the emergence of more confidence.
Throughout the online poll we have seen the emergence of favourites such as Spain, Germany, England, etc but the reality is that football is not a scientific sport and any opinion is neither right nor wrong. This is the beauty of football, the ability to allow everybody to have an opinion, to allow everybody to dream the dream and to allow each individual team the confidence to believe they will win in the run-up to the tournament. In this day and age, bearing in mind the financial crisis gripping the world, the opportunity to step outside of your everyday life for just a short period of time and forget your personal woes is for many people worth its weight in gold.
We await confirmation of the eventual Euro 2012 winners but the reality is that against a backdrop of financial woe for many people the tournament is a welcome distraction from everyday life.