Despite the fact that the worldwide economy is collapsing, there is friction in many areas of the world it seems that football has the ability to bring together nations, bring together supporters and allow people to forget their troubles for just a short space of time. The Euro 2012 football tournament is one of the most powerful events in the sporting calendar and has certainly caught the attention of expats around the world. We therefore undertook a poll on the expatforum.com asking expats around the world who they thought would win Euro 2012.
The results were fairly varied and while some of the voting trends will be predictable there are a number of surprises in there.
There were many sceptics when the footballing authorities awarded the Euro 2012 football tournament to a joint bid from Poland and Ukraine. There were concerns about the financial strength of the underlying governments, there were concerns about the ability to deliver acceptable infrastructure and there were concerns about the standard of stadiums. However, now that the tournament is underway it seems that many of these concerns were unfounded and indeed the general feedback from football fans at this early stage is on the whole very positive.
Despite the fact that the worldwide economy is, in the words of many experts, near collapse it is amazing to find that hundreds of thousands of football fans have raided their piggy banks and found the money required to travel to Poland and Ukraine to watch their teams. While favourites such as Spain and Germany are obviously grabbing the headlines it is worth noting that team such as Greece, the Republic of Ireland, etc may not be as fancied as some of the other teams but they have earned their right to be there. Once you are at the tournament all you need is a bit of luck and a lot of skill and who knows what can happen?
Football is a game which on paper seems very easy, seems very predictable but in real life it is far from that. We have seen favourites fall by the wayside, we have seen infighting among some of the best-known teams in the world and we have seen some of the lesser fancied teams take the tournament spoils in the past. The beauty of football is the fact that it is unpredictable, it does play with your emotions, it does play with your heart and your mind but above all it does allow you to take your mind off your troubles for just a short space of time.
Spain (64.71% of the vote)
When you bear in mind that the Spanish team is currently looking for its third major trophy in succession it is no surprise to learn that it has gained the lion’s share of the vote from expats. This is a team which is littered with experienced players, flair players and the type of players that you need when under pressure. There are very few people who are betting against the Spanish team making it through to the final and potentially lifting the European football trophy yet again.
The comparison between the Spanish football team, which is on a successful roll, and the Spanish economy could not be more different. The economy is under pressure, the banking system needed a European bailout and there are many who believe country will eventually need a massive bailout from European partners. Yields on Spanish sovereign debt have now topped the 7% mark which for many people is the tipping point of no return. We will see over the next few days and weeks how this situation progresses but there are few who believe the government can contain the situation without outside help.
While we see flair players come and go in the German team, the management has always maintained the ability to bring players together and create a very strong team spirit. So when you take into account the quality players available for the German team, that spirit and the history of German football it is no surprise to see that many believe they are amongst the favourites to lift the Euro 2012 trophy. It will be interesting to see whether they are able to change their style of football to suit the various teams they will meet because they have a reputation for grinding out results.
The German economy has a lot of similar characteristics to that of the German football team because it is dependable, has a very strong backbone and seems to perform on a regular basis. At this point in time there is no doubt that the German economy is holding together the Eurozone and Chancellor Merkel is very much in the driving seat. However, while the economy is still growing there is significant pressure on Chancellor Merkel to release significant funds to bail out economies such as Spain and potentially Italy. Whatever happens, it seems that Germany will become stronger within the European Union.
The Dutch national football team has flattered to deceive on so many occasions that many people have literally given up despite the fact they have some of the best flair players in the world. Historically there has been infighting and severe friction between various team members which has very often spilled out onto the playing surface. Certain players are not able to play with others which in many ways ties the hands of the management behind their backs. Will Holland flatter to deceive again or fulfil their potential?
The relatively small Dutch economy does not really grab the headlines with regards to the financial crisis across Europe although it is worth noting that it has slipped into recession again, like so many other European economies. The official forecast is that the country will leave recession in the latter part of 2012 but many believe this is optimistic when you consider the ongoing problems with the Italian and Spanish economies. In reality the Dutch economy may not move out of recession until 2013 or beyond which would make a significant hole in public finances.
Again like the Dutch, English teams have flattered to deceive on so many occasions in the past that this tournament has seen perhaps the lowest number of England fans travelling overseas for any major tournament. However, if the England team can overcome the group stages then perhaps this will reignite hope within the England fan base and potentially allow the team to push on. In many ways England still live under the shadow of 1966 which is the last time that an English team won a major trophy, in the shape of the World Cup.
Despite the fact that England, indeed the UK, is outside of the Eurozone and chose not to adopt the euro there is no doubt that the European financial crisis is impacting the economy. The UK economy slipped back into recession over the last few months and indeed while optimists believe it will move back into a growth phase in the latter part of 2012 this is wishful thinking to say the least. The UK government has effectively been forced to hand over billions upon billions of euros to prop up ailing European economies which has not gone down well with UK taxpayers.
When you consider that the French national football team is currently on a 20+ match unbeaten run it is perhaps surprising to learn there were no votes from Spanish expats. There are some who believe that the French team is overrated but when you look at some of the flair players it is difficult to argue against the quality and strength in depth. It has been some time since the French team last lifted a major trophy, will 2012 be their year?
There will be many expats and non-expats living in France hoping that the football team can lift the trophy to at least lift some of the gloom from the French economy. There have been big political changes across France and indeed it is now seen as anti-Europe rather than pro-Europe. It will be interesting to see how the French economy performs in the weeks and months ahead because despite the fact it is one of the largest in Europe there are some who believe it is on the verge of collapse. Having historically hung onto the coattails of close ally Germany this situation has changed dramatically after the far left gained control in the last election.
There is a lot of competition between the Italian football team and the Spanish football team but it was rather surprising to see no votes in this particular poll. The Italian football team has flair players, experienced players and a management which has been there and done it. However, the Italian football scene is under significant pressure at this point in time amid allegations of financial regularities and indeed alleged match fixing. Will Italian footballers be able to emerge from the shadows of these troubles or will they drag sentiment down?
The Italian economy is in a similar situation to that currently experienced by Spain with significant pressure on the government budget and sovereign debt yields now approaching the critical 7% level. There are many who believe it is inevitable that the Italian economy will wobble and require outside assistance while the Italian government remains adamant it can introduce austerity measures to save the day. There have been concerns regarding the financial management of the Italian economy for some time and in many ways these issues are now coming home to roost. Will the government really be able to pull this one out of the fire?
While there were a number of tongue in cheek comments regarding potential winners of the Euro 2012 tournament it was interesting to see that Russia did receive some votes of confidence. There are many who believe that the Russian team is one of the dark horses of this tournament as they have a number of players who now operate in some of the best leagues in the world. On paper there are few who would give the Russian team much of a chance but in reality this can be very different.
When you take into account the number of teams performing at the Euro 2012 tournament there are very few who are currently experiencing anything like an economic boom. In many ways the timing could not have been better time because at least for a few weeks it has taken away the headlines from the growing financial crisis and given some people the opportunity to dream the dream and believe their team can win the trophy. However, once the tournament is over it will very much be back to normal amid more concerns about the Italian, Spanish and even the French economies. Enjoy the tournament while it lasts!
Expats in Spain
There is no doubt that Spain has more than its fair share of expats from all around the world and a large number from the UK. Many of these expats enjoy the love of football which is obvious to anybody who has ever visited Spain and as such there should be some exceptionally large viewing numbers for Euro 2012 games. There is competition between fans, there is rivalry but on the whole this is very jovial and enjoyable. So can Spain lift the trophy?
It seems that many expats have joined the support of local football fans with over 60% of the vote in this particular poll. This would indicate that some fans have ditched their former favourites such as England and Germany in favour of the all conquering Spanish team. However, while the Spanish football team is currently rated the best in the world, having won the last two major football tournaments, it will be very difficult to repeat this trick for a third time.
However, there will be football fans across Spain hoping that the team can be victorious and allow them to at least forget their financial woes for just a few days. We can dream?
Where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
While many football fans, such as those in the UK, automatically assume that Euro 2012 games will be available free to view this is not always the case. A number of forum members have come forward to suggest places where they will be watching the football games and indeed satellite TV stations, homes of friends and even the local pub have been very prominent in various answers.
The truth is that wherever you are looking to watch the Euro 2012 football games there will be an atmosphere like no other, people will be dreaming the dream and hoping their team can be victorious. The tournament has started and it will not be too long before we know the eventual winner – who is your favourite?
How do sporting tournaments impact on local economies?
There is no doubt that sporting events, such as the World Cup, the European Championships and even the Olympics, do have an impact upon local economies. The Polish and Ukrainian governments have invested a significant amount of money into infrastructure and football stadiums which has obviously assisted employment rates in the country. Indeed it has been proved time and time again that hosting such an event does bring something of a feelgood factor to the local population and when you bear in mind the current situation within Europe this could not have come at a better time.
If you look further afield there is also well researched documentation to suggest that those who win some of the major tournaments around the world can indeed take back some of this feelgood factor to their homeland. If we take a glimpse back at Spain’s victory in the last World Cup and the last European Championships we saw the joy on the face of Spanish nationals who were literally partying and celebrating for days. When you bear in mind the difficulties within Europe, and the problems within the Spanish economy, perhaps a victory for the Spanish team could not come at a better time?
It is no surprise to learn that many expats living in Spain have signed up to the genuine belief that Spain will be victorious again and make this three major trophies in a row. For many people in Spain football is a type of religion and we only need to look back at previous tournaments where the team was victorious to see what it means to people. When you bear in mind the current political and economic situation in the country perhaps a victory is just what the doctor ordered for the Spanish population?
The poll itself has shown Germany to be very popular but Spain is also in the hearts and minds of many people looking for the best team in Euro 2012. In this particular poll, of expats in Spain, Spain and Germany took the lion’s share of the popular vote leaving the likes of England, France, Italy and Holland in their wake. Time will tell whether these views are correct and whether or not they are being seen through rose tinted glasses.