While the Euro 2012 tournament has begun there is still much discussion about who will eventually lift the European championship trophy. Football seems to bring out intense rivalries, bring football fans together and at least give people the chance to escape from their everyday life are just a short period of time. So we thought it would be interesting to carry out a poll on the expatforum.com website to see which team expats around the world believe will win Euro 2012.
While many of the voting patterns will be predictable to those who follow football, there are some unexpected discrepancies between different countries.
There are very few people who were pleasantly surprised when the football authorities awarded the Euro 2012 football tournament to a joint-venture including Poland and the Ukraine. There was intense speculation with regards to the financial strength of these two countries, concern as to whether the infrastructure would be in place and indeed there were major issues with regards to the building of state-of-the-art football tournaments. Now that the tournament has begun it does seem as though many of these concerns were unfounded and the authorities have so far delivered exactly what they promised.
When you take a step back and look at the economic issues within Europe and the rest of the world then perhaps the Euro 2012 tournament has come at the best possible time. Football has the ability to allow football fans to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and indeed leave their financial concerns behind for just the shortest period of time. It is this ability to dream the dream, follow your team in the hope that they will win the trophy which will keep many people going during these very difficult economic times. Yes, the Euro 2012 tournament is nothing short of a godsend for many people!
There are a number of hot favourites in the Euro 2012 tournament which include Germany and Spain for example although some of the not so well fancied teams have earned the right to be there and also earned the right to be considered. The reality is that until your team is knocked out of the tournament you have every right to dream, you have every right to believe up until the very last minute when it is mathematically impossible for your team to progress. This is the beauty of football!
It will come as no surprise to learn that the vast majority of expats living in Germany believe the German national football team is one of the favourites for the tournament. Indeed, to say that the German team has polled the lion’s share of the vote would be an understatement to say the least. In the eyes of many people Germany are by far and away the most favoured team to lift that prized trophy in just a couple of weeks time. The strength in depth, the flair players and the undiminished winning mentality seem to be amongst the major characteristics of all German football teams.
In many ways the German economy perfectly reflects the personality of the German national football team as it is one of the leaders in Europe and in many ways it is holding up some of the weaker economies. However, the strength in depth has caused issues for Chancellor Merkel who on one hand is being forced to issue bailout after bailout to weakened economies while on the other German voters appear sick and tired of bailing out everybody else. The German economy is still growing but as long as the European issue continues this growth will start to weaken and eventually impact more and more upon life in Germany.
When you bear in mind that the Spanish football team is currently looking for trophy number three in succession then it is no surprise to learn they have taken a fair chunk of the vote. They have flair players, have strength in depth and after victory at the last European Championships and the last World Cup they have a winning mentality. However, some people believe that this current Spanish team may well have peaked and some of the older players may well retire after the tournament. Time will tell, but it would take a brave person to write the Spanish team off!
It is a shame that we cannot say the same regarding the Spanish economy which is going from bad to worse and may potentially require a massive economic bailout. The economy recently plunged back into recession, unemployment is in excess of 20% and the yield on sovereign Spanish debt is now over the 7% tipping point at which many believe there is no return. Despite the fact that the government is adamant that a full-scale economic bailout will not be required there are very few in the investment market who share this confidence. Would a Spanish victory at Euro 2012 give the population at least a modicum of respite?
It will probably surprise many diehard England fans see the team in joint third place with regards to the votes by expats in Germany, especially when you bear in mind the significant number of UK expats in the country. However, despite the fact there are flair players in the England team many experts believe this is the weakest team England has been able to field for over 30 years. It will be interesting to see whether these players are able to step up to the mark and emerge from the shadows of 1966.
The UK economy is currently going through a very difficult period and is in many were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The government is adamant that austerity measures should be introduced to reduce budget spending while on the other hand the government is being forced to part finance massive bailout packages for failing European economies. This comes despite the fact that the UK government decided not to adopt the euro or join the Eurozone although there is no doubt that European trade is still central to the UK economy. The government is very much in a no-win situation!
It is surprising to see how many experts are unconvinced about the French national football team despite the fact that it is currently on a 20+ unbeaten match run. There is no doubt that the French team has the stars, it has the belief and it has the confidence to push ahead and potentially lift the European trophy. However, there is still a nagging doubt in the minds of many people as to whether there is strength in depth and a total belief in the team.
Back at home, expats and non-expats living in France will be well aware of the ever changing economic environment and the moving political landscape. It is fair to say that France has been through the mill over the last few months and the economy has certainly taken a turn for the worse. Despite the fact it is one of the largest economies in Europe there is a growing concern that at some point in the short to medium term it will require a financial bailout to survive. The firewall of the Spanish and Italian economies is beginning to crumble and many believe that France could be next.
In football terms alone it is difficult to see why there is no interest in the Dutch national football team when you take into account their flair players and their experience. However, you need to dig deeper with regards to Dutch football to learn the very intricate nature and the fragile relationship between various players and various cliques. Historically there has been infighting and friction in many tournaments and unfortunately it looks as though the situation will yet again be replicated in 2012. Or can the Dutch pull back and realise their potential?
It is not very often that you will see the Dutch economy hitting the headlines especially when you take into account the serious problems with the Italian and Spanish economies, which are significantly larger. However, like nearly every other European economy the Dutch economy has slipped back into recession and while optimistic tones from the government suggest it will move back towards a growth phase in the latter part of 2012 this is highly unlikely. If the Spanish or Italian economies, or indeed both, were to require a financial bailout from their European partners this would impact short to medium-term European growth in general. Holland is very much at the beck and call of its European partners!
Again, on footballing terms alone you would expect some support for the Italian national team bearing in mind the ability of their players, the national mindset and their history of success in major tournaments. However, over the last few years the Italian football scene has been awash with accusations of financial irregularities and even alleged match fixing. It very much seems as though this shadow has yet to lift from the national team and while those in Italian inner circles have belief there is very little support elsewhere.
When you take into account the problems facing the Italian football scene and also take a look at the Italian economy, which is in freefall, it does not look very good. However, football is like a religion to many people in Italy and even the merest glimpse of success would allow football fans up and down the country to put aside their financial woes for even the shortest period of time. The yield on Italian sovereign debt is now approaching the 7% tipping point and with a European bailout becoming more likely by the day there are certainly major challenges for the Italian government in the short to medium term.
When you consider that other teams in the tournament include Portugal, Russia, Czech Republic, Croatia and even the Ukraine it was something of a surprise to learn that no other teams were mentioned with regards to potential winners of Euro 2012. There is no doubt that the German expat population and the German domestic population have a major interest in football but apparently they are all locked into a relatively narrow mindset with regards to the overall eventual winner. Could we see one of the smaller teams spring a surprise or will the major teams rule the roost?
In many ways the economic performance of individual countries is very often replicated in their national football teams with the Italian team under pressure, the England team apparently unfancied yet Germany still leading the way with a strong national team and a strong economy. The reality is that the whole European economy is being dragged down by a drip feed of bad publicity, bad news and the ever worsening economic environment. When the likes of Ireland and Greece requested financial help there were no major concerns for the future but with the likes of Spain and Italy now hitting troubled waters the situation has changed dramatically. Hopefully, Euro 2012 can at least give some members of the European population a little respite during the tournament.
Expats in Germany
The expat population in Germany consists of a large number of different foreign nationals although it is very obvious that there are a number of football fans within the expat community. The 69% vote in favour of the German team as potential winners of Euro 2012 is by far and away the largest individual vote throughout the individual countries covered. It does perfectly reflect the underlying strength of the German national football team although whether the players will deliver in the end remains to be seen.
There are many experts who believe that the German economy is literally holding up the rest of Europe with Chancellor Merkel under massive pressure to think outside of the box in relation to saving the rest of Europe. The financial liabilities building up amongst other European economies are mind blowing with Spain potentially requiring a €500 billion bailout in the event of an economic collapse. These figures are way beyond what anybody had been discussing when credit crunch part one took place and there will need to be some radical decisions made in the short to medium term to prevent a total collapse of Europe.
Where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
As well as introducing a poll on the website asking which teams members believed would win the Euro 2012 tournament it was interesting to see how and where supporters will be watching the games. While many of us take for granted free to air TV coverage this is not available across the board with the slack being taken up by an array of satellite TV companies many of which are well known and some which are not so well known. However, one thing is becoming abundantly clear, wherever you are in the world, whichever team you support you will have the opportunity to watch the games live. You can also live the dream and ride the rollercoaster – for now!
How do sporting tournaments impact upon local economies?
Unless you dig deeper with regards to the economic impact of such sporting events as Euro 2012 you will never know what is actually happening on the ground. The very fact that the Polish and the Ukrainian governments have invested significant money into their infrastructure and their sporting arenas has obviously helped employment figures and created something of a feelgood factor in the run-up to the tournament. There are many reports which confirm this phenomenon which is certainly worth its weight in gold in the current economic environment.
While the situation with regards to host nations is possibly obvious when you take a closer look, did you know that the eventual winners of a vast array of sporting events in the past have taken home some of the feelgood factor to their domestic population? Can you imagine the euphoria across England if they could return with their first tournament win since 1966? Did you see the images of the Spanish fans when they lifted the last World Cup and the last European Championships? Need we say more?
It is interesting to see the variation in voting patterns amongst expat communities around the world although in reality it is Spain, Germany and England which seem very often to lead the way. Interest in Spain and Germany will come as no surprise bearing in mind their history and their strength in depth but perhaps the “blind faith” many are showing to the England team is a surprise. This is an England team which has failed to deliver since 1966 and is now said to have the worst team in the last 30 years. Can the English really deliver?
When you take a step back from the tournament and look at the overall situation it is amazing to see what power sport and football in particular has on your mindset. The Euro 2012 tournament has come at an opportune moment for many people bearing in mind the economic woes being felt within Europe and indeed across the world. It is the ability to dream the dream, live the dream and hope that your team will be successful which will allow many football fans across the world to take their mind off their own financial troubles, if even for just a short space of time. This really is the power of football!