We have waited years for the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland/Ukraine and it’s finally here with hundreds of thousands of fans making their way to the region. Football is a sport which attracts very different opinions, creates great rivalries although it has the unique ability to actually bring fans together in tournament time. Therefore we thought it would be very interesting to see what expats in various countries thought about the chances of individual teams with some very interesting results.
We held the poll on the expatforum.com and while some of the voting patterns may be predictable there are some anomalies from country to country.
It has to be said that very few people were filled with confidence when the footballing authorities decided to award the Euro 2012 tournament to a joint-venture from the Ukraine and Poland. There were concerns about the financial strength of each country, the ability to deliver an adequate infrastructure and the race against time to build some of the most state-of-the-art football stadiums in the world. Thankfully, now that the tournament has begun, the feedback has been extremely positive and the initial concerns which many were more than happy to repeat in the press appear to have been unfounded.
There is a growing belief that the Euro 2012 tournament could not have come at a better time for Europeans who are currently in the midst of the most severe financial downturn in living history. Each and every day the situation seems to get worse, different economies seem to start wobbling and slowly but surely this is having a damning impact upon not only investor sentiment but also the sentiment of the general population. Yes, there are many people within Europe, and around the world, who have been crying out for the start of Euro 2012 to at least give them the opportunity to escape from their financial woes and support their team as long as they are in the tournament. The power of football is amazing!
If we now take a look at the individual teams and the favourites we start to see the emergence of some old favourites such as Germany, Spain and even England. There has been particular emphasis on Germany and Spain across the general poll although the degree of support has varied from country to country and expat to expat. There has been general support for the England team despite the fact that many believe this is the weakest for 30 years and has little or no hope of eventually lifting the trophy. Time will tell!
There has been genuine support for the German national football team throughout the various individual countries included in our poll. This is not the first time Germany has been seen as one of the favourites in a major football tournament and with their focused winning mentality, flair players and strength in depth it is no surprise. There are some who doubt whether the German team will eventually deliver the trophy but the reality is that they will likely be there in the final game, but will they be successful?
The German economy in many ways mirrors the underlying strengths of the German national football team with a genuine belief, underlying strength and ability to overcome hurdle after hurdle. In many ways Germany’s influence over European partners continues to grow and many believe that the future of Europe is in the hands of Chancellor Merkel. She has been asked time and time again to provide funds to bail out failing economies and unfortunately her hands are in many ways tied behind her back and she has no choice. However, this has not gone down well with the German population who believe they are being used to prop up an ailing Europe.
The story of the Italian national football team over the last decade has been on the ups and downs and there is most certainly a shadow over Italian football at this moment in time. There have been accusations of financial irregularities as well as alleged match fixing which have all come together to dampen hopes for Euro 2012. However, you write off the Italian football team at your peril because they have amazing strength in depth and flair players who can turn a game in an instant. They will need to be at their best to win Euro 2012 but perhaps out of their current troubles will come their answer to the world?
The Italian economy is in a similar state to the national football team with again allegations of financial mismanagement in the past as well as financial irregularities. The Italian economy has taken a significant lurch downwards over the last few months and with sovereign debt yields now approaching the tipping point of 7% there is growing concern that a financial bailout will be required. The Italian economy may well have limited protection from its Spanish counterpart at the moment but if Spain was to tumble then Italy would probably be next. However, football is like religion in Italy and a win at the Euro 2012 tournament would most certainly help with short-term sentiment!
If you look at any individual team on football ability alone then there is no doubt that the Dutch team would be there or thereabouts in your thinking. However, time and time again the Dutch team have flattered to deceive with highly damaging infighting and friction between a number of different cliques. There were hopes that these traits would have disappeared for Euro 2012 but unfortunately in the eyes of many they are still there and still pulling apart the team spirit.
The Dutch economy, like so many others across Europe, recently slipped back into recession and it is unlikely to exit recession in the not too distant future unless there is a major shift in sentiment. In many ways the Dutch economy is at the beck and call of the larger economies such as Spain and Italy which are currently on the verge of requesting financial bailouts. The Dutch government had hoped to return to a growth phase towards the end of 2012 although this seems very optimistic especially in the current economic environment. Would a Dutch victory at Euro 2012 help short-term sentiment?
It is no surprise to learn that Spain is amongst one of the favourites for Euro 2012 especially when you take into account their strength in depth, flair players and the fact they have won the last two major football tournaments. While some believe the current Spanish team is nearing the end of its shelf life there are others who believe they have at least one more tournament within them. It will be interesting to see how the Spanish team progress and indeed whether they are able to maintain that winning mentality which has built up over the last four years.
We only wish that we could be as positive and optimistic with regards to the Spanish economy as we can be with regards to the Spanish national football team. The Spanish economy is now in freefall and with unemployment topping 20% there are few who believe the government can pull away from the financial abyss without the assistance of European counterparts. As a consequence many investors are now taking it for granted that the government will at some stage be forced to request a financial bailout although time will tell.
When you bear in mind the number of UK expats in Pakistan it is surprising to see a relatively low level of support for the England football team at the Euro 2012 tournament. However, many experts believe that the current England team is the weakest for over 30 years therefore expectations have been low across the England fan spectrum. However, out of adversity comes hope and there are many who quietly believe that with no significant expectations or pressure on the team they can perhaps perform better than they have been doing?
The economy in the UK has been struggling for some time now and despite the fact that the UK is not part of the Eurozone and did not adopt the euro, significant finances have been made available for various European financial bailouts. This has irked many voters in the UK who are currently experiencing significant financial hardship as well as the prospect of further budget cuts to public services. How can the government introduce austerity measures while writing billion Euro cheques for weakened European economies? The truth is that European trade is vital to the UK economy and always will be.
Despite the fact that the French national football team is currently on a very impressive 20 game undefeated run it seems there are few people who fancy the French national team to lift the trophy at Euro 2012. Indeed amongst the expat community in Pakistan the French team only amassed 8.33% of the vote which is very disappointing if you are French supporter. Will the team flatter to deceive? Will they surprise their doubters? Time will tell…………………
For many people, expats and non-expats, living in France there are more important issues than football at this moment in time. There have been major political changes over the last few months and indeed it seems as though Pres Sarkozy has paid the price for the economic downturn. There are also growing concerns that the French economy is on the verge of collapse and the firewall which is the Spanish and Italian economies is looking more flimsy by the day. The reality is that if France did require a financial bailout in the short to medium term then we would likely see a carve-up of Europe and the disintegration of the euro.
When you bear in mind we still have the likes of the Czech Republic, Russia, Portugal, Croatia and Sweden in the Euro 2012 tournament, it is perhaps a surprise that there have been no votes for these particular teams. The reality is that every team at Euro 2012 is there by right and has earned the chance to dream about winning the trophy. The likely truth is that the eventual winner will come from a fairly close-knit number of teams including Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and the England but the beauty of football is that you never know.
There are no right and no wrong opinions with regards to football because it is not a scientific sport and it is nigh on impossible to predict. True, you may well believe that Spain, Germany and perhaps Portugal are favourites for the Euro 2012 trophy but how certain are you? How much money would you put on one of these teams coming through and lifting the trophy? If you follow football you will probably be aware of various major upsets in the past including Denmark and Greece winning tournaments which in the eyes of many they had no right to be in. Football is followed by millions of people around the world and is often discussed in the same breath as religion!
Expats in Pakistan
The relative lack of support for England amongst expats in Pakistan may surprise many people when you bear in mind the close relationship with the Commonwealth and the number of UK expats in the region. However, it looks as though many expats are letting their heads rule their hearts with significant support for the likes of Germany, Spain and even Italy. The reality is that no matter where you come from in the world you have the option of blind faith in your national team or you have the option to run the rule over the major players. The choice is yours and this is what makes football!
There is a growing opinion that Euro 2012 has come at the best possible time for European countries bearing in mind the political and economic mayhem currently being experienced. If just for a few days the football fans of Spain, Germany, England, etc can put aside their personal financial woes to support their team then this will be a godsend. The ability to dream the dream, move into your own special world and leave your troubles behind while the tournament is ongoing is worth its weight in gold.
Where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
While there have been many comments with regards to favourites for the Euro 2012 tournament and who may eventually win the trophy there has also been much discussion about where expats will be watching the games. It is easy to take for granted various free to view options such as those available in the UK when in reality these are not available across-the-board. However, it has become apparent that many of the world’s best-known and perhaps least known satellite TV companies have bought into the Euro 2012 story and acquired live match feeds.
The reality now is that no matter where about in the world you live, no matter which team you support, you will have the option of watching the games at home, with your friends or perhaps in some areas of the world, down your local pub with a pint or two. There are very few countries in the world which have not bought into the Euro 2012 dream so enjoy!
How do sporting tournaments impact upon local economies?
While many of us are blinded by the potential to win the Euro 2012 trophy it is worth sitting back and considering the overall impact which major sporting events have upon local economies. There is no doubt that the Ukrainian and the Polish governments have invested significant amounts of money into the building of new stadiums and improving their historic infrastructure. So not only has this improved the employment figures across these two nations but in many ways it has built up a feelgood factor which has come to a crescendo with the start of the tournament. Do not underestimate the power of football…………
It is also worth taking note of the potential impact which a win at one of these major sporting events can have upon the victorious team. Time and time again we have seen winning teams taking back much of this feelgood factor to their home nations and fans letting themselves go, often celebrating for days. While the feelgood factor, and the impact on economic activity, may well be short lived you ask any of those fans who have been celebrating victories in the past whether it made them feel good. We think you already know the answer…………..
While we have seen the emergence of a number of voting patterns across-the-board it was interesting to see that Italy is seen by many expats in Pakistan as a potential winner of the Euro 2012 tournament. The old favourites such as Germany, Spain and to a lesser extent in this instance the England team still feature heavily but there are some regional variations. The reality is that this is what makes football so popular, the fact that it is not a scientific sport and there is no right and no wrong opinion.
It is also worth taking into account the ability of football, and other sporting events, to allow fans around the world to at least forget their own personal situations in the event of their team winning the trophy. This is probably more prevalent today than at any time in the recent past because of the underlying economic situation in Europe and the challenges that so many people have to face on a daily basis. Do not underestimate the impact which sport and football in particular can and does have upon millions of people.