If there is one sport in the world which has the ability to bring together whole nations and very different supporters it is football. While it can create intense rivalries, intense discussions and very high emotions there is no doubt that interest in football today is as great as it has ever been. Therefore we thought it would be very interesting to look at the various expat communities around the world to see who they believe will win Euro 2012?
It is interesting to see a number of traditional and wholly expected voting patterns emerging but there are also some individual expat groups who seem to have their very own take on the tournament and potentially successful teams.
There were very few people in the football community who welcomed the announcement that a joint-venture between Poland and Ukraine had been accepted as the tournament hosts for Euro 2012. There were rumours and counter rumours regarding financial strength, the ability to improve infrastructure and indeed the ability to build state-of-the-art football stadiums in time for the event. However, thankfully the vast majority of these concerns have proved to be unfounded and infrastructure projects have been finished on time, state-of-the-art stadiums are now fully utilised and in many ways the Ukraine and the Polish governments have proved their doubters wrong.
Indeed, for many people living in and around Europe the Euro 2012 football tournament could not have come at a better time giving them the ability to at least take their minds off the European economic situation for a few weeks. Football has that special ability to give you the chance to move into your own dream world, dream the dream and actually believe that your football team can win the tournament. For the vast majority of us this will be nothing but a pipedream but for those short few days or short few weeks football can return that feelgood factor which is so sorely missed across many areas of Europe.
It is also worth mentioning that football is one of those subjects which is not scientific, not definitive and everybody can have their own opinion. On paper teams such as Spain and Germany seem to be the favourites but in years gone by we have seen the likes of Greece pull together as a team and deliver the final dream. In simple terms, any one of the teams which has qualified for Euro 2012 deserves to be there and until they are mathematically out of the tournament they have every chance of victory. In reality it is very different but that this is football, unpredictable, highly emotional and likely to give you heart palpitations!
While the German national team is one of the strongest in the world and has shown time and time again that it has the nerve and the ability to go to the very end, who would have expected 44.12% of the Indian expat community to vote in favour of the country? This perhaps reflects the ever-growing interest in football in all corners of the world, including India, and the fact that there are also many expat communities with a vested interest.
In some ways it is ironic that the German football team seems to show all of the characteristics of the German economy which has been strong and very predictable for some time. Indeed in many ways the German economy has become the backbone of the European economy with pressure on Chancellor Merkel to inject billions of euros into various bailout packages. This seems to go against the general consensus of German voters who believe they are being used to bailout weakened European economies with nothing given in return. However, one thing is certain, the German government and the German economy will play a larger role within Europe as a whole in the years to come.
If there’s one thing you can say about the English expat community around the world it is the fact that when each and every football tournament arrives they begin to believe, they begin to dream and 1966 is mentioned time and time again. While the current England team is seen by many as potentially the worst for 30 years who is to say they cannot pull off the unexpected? They have the talent, they have the skill, they have the togetherness and in a player like Wayne Rooney they have a potential match winner on their hands.
The situation with regards to the UK economy could not be further from the hopes and dreams of the England fans supporting their team in Euro 2012. The economy recently slipped back into a double dip recession, austerity measures are now coming under attack and even the chancellor George Osborne has agreed to change his financial goals. While the UK is not part of the Eurozone and has not adopted the euro it has participated in multibillion euro bailouts of various governments across Europe. In simple terms, the UK authorities have a vested interest in Europe succeeding and trade continuing.
The Italian national football team has been placed in joint second place by expats living in India which will surprise many when you bear in mind the ongoing difficulties at the moment. There is no doubting that the Italian football sector has many stars, many characters and many personalities but match fixing allegations, alleged financial irregularities and a spate of investigations have dampened expectations. Indeed this is perhaps one of the only tournaments in which the Italian football team has been unfancied by so many.
The situation with regards to the Italian economy is also dire having dropped back into recession and seen by many as potentially requiring a financial bailout from Eurozone masters. Even though the Spanish economy is currently grabbing the headlines, the yield on Italian sovereign debt continues to rise and is getting dangerously close to the 7% tipping point at which financial assistance may be required. If the Spanish economy was to take a wobble and collapse then it is likely that Italy would follow with potentially France and other major European economies coming under further pressure. These really are dire straits for the Italian government and Italian population but hopefully football can succeed.
Holland has fared surprisingly well in the poll of expats living in India but it is perhaps not so surprising when you bear in mind the ability of the Dutch team, the history of the Dutch team and the potential of the Dutch team. However, time and time again we have seen instances of infighting and bitter arguments between team mates which have literally ripped the squad apart to the detriment of various tournaments. Many hope that this will not be the case at Euro 2012 but we would not advise holding your breath!
The Dutch economy, like so many across Europe, has slipped back into recession although the official forecast is for the economy to start growing again towards the latter part of 2012. However, it seems that much of this hope for the future is based upon the fact that the Italian and Spanish economies will survive without any financial bailouts, something which seems less and less likely. If either Spain or Italy, or indeed both economies, was to require a financial bailout then the situation for countries such as Holland would be very difficult to say the least. Everything at this point in time hinges upon Spain and Italy surviving without major financial bailouts although time will tell whether this is the case.
There is a distinct lack of confidence in the French national football team from expats living in India which is quite surprising when you bear in mind the teams 20 game unbeaten run. This is a team which has a number of superstars, a winning mentality and is seen by many as one of the favourites to lift the Euro 2012 trophy. However, it has been some time since France last lifted a major football trophy and some people are calling into doubt their winning mentality when push comes to shove.
Expats living in France will be well aware that the economy, as with European economies as a whole, has taken a significant downturn over the last few months. Indeed historic friction between the French government and the UK government has reared its ugly head again with the political scene in France ever changing. Pres Sarkozy appears to have paid the price for the economic downturn and the left wing government is now determined more than ever to reduce ties with Europe and take control of French finances again.
It is absolutely astounding to see that expats in India rate the chances of Spain lifting the Euro 2012 trophy at the bottom of the pile. This is a country which is now looking for its third major football trophy in succession, having won the last World Cup and the last European Championships, but it seems that some in the expat community have their doubts. It will be interesting to see whether the ever developing and ever-growing Spanish national team is able to lift the trophy and prove the doubters wrong.
There is no doubt that the Spanish economy is performing in direct comparison to the Spanish football team having turned towards recession again. Indeed the interest rate on Spanish sovereign debt has now touched the critical 7% tipping point on international money markets which for many is the point of no return. Whether indeed the Spanish economy does require a financial bailout from European partners remains to be seen but many believe this is literally the last brick in the firewall before a complete collapse of the European economy and Europe as a whole. Spain seems to hold the key to the future!
While there were a number of tongue-in-cheek comments with regards to other potential winners of the Euro 2012 trophy, Holland and Denmark did receive further consideration. The contrast between these particular teams could not be greater but then again as we have mentioned on numerous occasions football is not a scientific sport and anything can and literally does happen.
The reality is that we all watch football because it is unpredictable, it is exciting and whichever team you support you can almost guarantee you will feel the high of the highs and the low of the lows during the tournament. Even if your team is lucky enough to win the event there is no straightforward path to victory and you will likely have felt heart palpitations and feelings of despair before your team finally lift the trophy. This is why we love football, this is why football is the most popular sport in the world and this is why football attracts billions upon billions of pounds of investment. There is literally no sport like it!
Expats in India
The voting pattern from expats in India with regards to the Euro 2012 tournament was very surprising to say the least with Germany by far and away the favoured. You may well have expected the England team to grab more of the online votes, due to the large UK expat community, but this was most certainly not the case. Indeed it was also surprising to see that Spain registered less than 3% of the overall vote despite the fact that in the minds of many people Spain are the favourites for the tournament.
It is also worth noting that India has something of a growing expat population due to the fact it is one of the few countries in the world which has shown significant economic growth even against the current worldwide backdrop. While this economic growth will be impacted at some stage if the European situation continues there are many who believe that India will very soon become one of the superpowers of the world and challenge the position of Europe as a whole. The makeup of the top table of worldwide economies entering the current recession will be very different to the one which exits the downturn.
Where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
One thing which is becoming more and more evident is the fact that football is as popular around the world as it ever has been. From the US to India, from Australia to Pakistan there is massive interest in the Euro 2012 tournament and viewing figures are likely to be high. But where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
A number of forum members have stepped forward to comment upon how and where they will be watching the Euro 2012 games as we move towards the business end of the tournament. It seems that an array of satellite TV stations have taken the initiative and signed up to the Euro 2012 live match feed although many will be watching on free to view TV or in their local pubs and clubs.
How do sporting tournaments impact upon local economies?
While initially many people may be surprised to hear we are asking the above question, when you dig deeper you will realise that sport has a major impact upon local economies and more importantly sentiment. There is obviously an initial impact upon the host nations, in this case Poland and Ukraine, with significant investment in infrastructure and football stadiums assisting employment figures and economic activity. However, the impact upon not only host nations but competing nations must also not be overlooked.
Historically there is a very definitive impact upon sentiment with regards to the eventual winners of any major football tournament or indeed sporting event. We have all seen the dancing in the streets when Spain won the last European championship, we’ve all seen the impact that 1966 had upon the UK population and this will happen again and again. This may only be a short lived period of euphoria but in the current economic environment it will be welcomed by millions.
The general voting patterns of various expat committees around the world have on the whole been predictable and unsurprising but this is most certainly not the case with regards to the Indian expat community. Favourites Spain received less than 3% of the vote while second favourites Germany received over 40% of the vote with England and Italy receiving just under 15% of the votes each. This will surprise many people who may automatically have assumed that the likes of England, Germany and Spain would lead the way but it seems that opinions do differ from country to country and expat community to expat community.
Despite the fact that the worldwide economy is crumbling, Europe is beginning to disintegrate it is evident that millions of fans have a massive interest in Euro 2012. Indeed hundreds of thousands of football supporters have made their way to the Ukraine and Poland despite the massive squeeze on personal finances and personal income. Football, and sport in general, is a very powerful tool which many governments around the world could use to their benefit if even just to give the local population a reason to be cheerful and a reason to forget their woes for just a short period of time.