While are some people who may be surprised to learn that there were a significant number of votes from expats living in the United Arab Emirates it is worth noting that the region will welcome the World Cup in the not too distant future and there are significant expat communities from all around the world. As a consequence it seems that there is significant interest in Euro 2012 with the voting perhaps closer than with any other expat community we have covered.
So how do expats in the UAE believe that the situation with Euro 2012 will pan out?
The tournament was awarded some time ago to a joint-venture with the Ukraine and Poland seeking to host the tournament for the first time. While there have been some concerns regarding the infrastructure of both the Ukraine and Poland as well as the ability of the various governments to complete the new stadiums on time it seems that many of these concerns were unfounded. There were also some question marks with regards to potential violence during the tournament but on the whole these seem to have been overdone.
For many people, both in the football community and out with the football community, Euro 2012 has come at a perfect moment with the European economy under significant pressure. Many people living in the Eurozone have seen a significant hit on their individual wealth and their standard of living but what better way to take their minds of this for just a short time than football?
Football is the most popular sport in the world, it is a sport which attracts very different personalities and it is something which can in many cases allow you to take your mind off other issues. It is also worth noting that there are a vast array of different teams performing at the tournament with favourites such as Spain and Germany and other not so fancied teams such as the Republic of Ireland, Greece, etc. However, the reality with regards to football is the fact that you never know what is around the corner and, as Greece showed just a short time ago, it is not always the favourites who win.
We will now take a look at the expat community living in the United Arab Emirates and see which teams are fancied for the tournament and whether there are indeed any surprises in the voting patterns.
Germany (30.80% of the vote)
When you bear in mind that the UAE, and in particular Dubai, has more than its fair share of expats in the construction sector it will perhaps come as no surprise to learn that Germany was number one in the poll. It seems as though the strong mentality of the German team has caught the eye of many people with the likes of England and Spain trailing in their wake. However, whether or not some of the more flamboyant teams will grab the trophy ahead of Germany remains to be seen.
From an economic point of view Germany is and continues to be one of the strongest economies within Europe and is indeed leading the way at this troubled time. Chancellor Merkel has been under significant pressure from German voters who are concerned that the country is being forced to finance various European bailouts. It will be interesting to see whether Chancellor Merkel is able to play hardball with her European counterparts because at the end of the day Germany is the strongest European economy but if the European economy collapses, what is it worth?
It seems as though England fans, both home and away, are still living the dream that 1966 can be repeated in 2012 with a major tournament win. Time and time again the England team have let down their fans yet time and time again the fans keep coming back for more. Will 2012 be the moment when England players stand up to be counted or will they yet again let down their legion of fans? Whatever happens there is no doubt that the following amongst UK expats living in the UAE is a strong as it has ever been and if fan power could push them over the finishing line, then England are a dead cert.
Despite the fact that the UK government took the decision some time ago to remain on the sidelines with regards to the Euro and the Eurozone the country has played a major role in attempting to tackle the ongoing problems. The UK economy itself has now slipped into a double dip recession, although growth is expected to resume later in 2012, which is a major concern. There was also concern amongst the UK population that taxpayers are being used to fund European bailouts when at this moment in time the UK is not part of the Euro.
There would seem to be some reluctance amongst the expat community in the UAE to back Spain despite the fact the country is now looking for its third major trophy in a row. They have a team of superstars, they have a mentality which is rock solid and there are few in the football world who don’t believe they will feature in the endgame. For many years the Spanish team has had superstars, excellent individuals but putting together the team ethic has been difficult. Have they now found the key to success number three?
Let us hope that the Spanish football team perform better than the Spanish economy at this moment in time. Just a few days ago the Spanish government requested a banking bailout of €100 million otherwise there were concerns that the banking system would grind to a halt. Indeed the economy is also struggling and sovereign debt yields are now approaching that 7% tipping point at which a major economic bailout may be required. We could be talking literally hundreds of hundreds of billions of euros if the Spanish economy continues to wobble and indeed was to fail. This would be a nightmare scenario!
The French football team is on one of the best winning runs in living history having remained undefeated for in excess of 20 games. However, perhaps the fact that France is number four amongst expats in the UAE reflects the number of French expats in the region or perhaps a belief that the bubble is about to burst. The bookies have France as one of the favourites for the tournament but like so many other exceptionally talented teams they have failed to deliver in the past. Will this year be France’s year?
The French economy has in many ways reflected the ongoing troubles within Europe because just when you thought the worst was over up popped a political nightmare. With Pres Sarkozy something of a distant thought in French politics we have seen the emergence of far left groups who are now opposed to European integration and could cause major problems within Central Europe. The economy itself is starting to wobble and while there are whispers about potential financial bailout packages in the future the country is nowhere near that at the moment. However, the incoming French government needs to tackle these challenges head-on as soon as possible.
It is perhaps a little surprising to see the Italian football team so far down the list of favourites for Euro 2012 but then again the Italian football industry has been through the mill of late. There have been accusations of match fixing, financial irregularities and indeed a number of prominent figures are currently being investigated by the authorities. However, the Italians have always had exceptionally talented stars, a winning mentality but whether they can bring this together under the current difficult situation remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, you should never write off the Italians!
When you also take into account the fact that the Italian economy is currently struggling to remain above water there is no doubt that the Italian population could do with a win at Euro 2012. Indeed the economy has again slipped back into recession, like most European economies, although there is an increasing debt burden with sovereign debt yields now approaching the 7% tipping point. There are many who believe that Italy and Spain could be the next two major economies to collapse which could lead to them requiring major bailout funding. The football industry is under pressure and the economy is wobbling, where is the good news?
Despite the fact that the Dutch team play some of the most flamboyant and attractive football that you could hope to see, this is a team which is as fragmented as any other in the international arena. There is no doubt there are superstars in the Dutch team, there is no doubt that the team has the potential to win but for some reason internal wrangling and infighting seems to block the way every year. Whether or not the Dutch management can create some kind of formula for success remains to be seen as there is major concern about team spirit.
As with so many European countries, Holland is now in recession and literally at the beck and call of the likes of Germany, the UK and France who are leading the way. The country is expected to exit recession towards the end of 2012 but these figures seem to have been based upon Italy and Spain sorting out their own problems without any bailouts. At this point in time it looks as though at least one of the two will require a financial bailout which would scupper hopes that the Dutch economy will start to grow again in the latter part of 2012.
There were a number of other suggestions with regards to potential winners of Euro 2012 which included Russia, Sweden, Dubai (not competing) and Iraq (not competing). While obviously a number of these comments were made tongue in cheek the reality of football is that while Russia and Sweden are relatively unfancied amongst many of the football world, you can never say never in this industry.
If football was as simple as calculating the likelihood of any one team beating another then what would be the point of watching the games? The reality is that football is unpredictable, football can send you on a massive rollercoasters and football can play with your mind and your heart. One of the major attractions of football is the fact that even the biggest underdog has every chance of being successful at some point and it is not only the favourites who go on to win.
Will we see the emergence of a successful smaller team during the Euro 2012 championships and will they be able to take this feelgood factor back to their homeland and back to their people? Football changes lives and football does have a major impact upon sentiment.
Expats in the UAE
It is common knowledge that there is a significant mix of worldwide expats in the United Arab Emirates due in the main to the economic boom just after the turn of the century. This led to something of a major increase in not only overall economic activity but specific activity within the construction and property sectors. Despite the fact that many expats have returned to their former homelands, in light of the worldwide recession, a number still remain and enjoy life in the UAE.
The economy itself has been out of the news for some time now as the worldwide recession and the European problem take top billing. While there are concerns that the amount of debt piled up during the boom years could drag economic performance for many years to come, you would be foolish to write off the UAE, and especially Dubai, in the medium to longer term. Lessons have hopefully been learned and it looks as though at least one of the expat communities in the region could have something to celebrate come the end of Euro 2012?
Where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
The very fact that we have had so many votes in our Euro 2012 poll suggests that there is still major worldwide interest despite the fact that the worldwide economy is struggling. But where will you be watching the games?
Many people automatically assume that the football games will be on free to air viewing when in reality this is not always the case. The UAE and many other countries in the region will have access to satellite sports programs although many of these will be subscription only. The ability to “enjoy the game in your local pub” will be a no-go for many people in the UAE where there are strict regulations regarding alcohol. However, by hook or by crook it seems that many in the expat community manage to get their own way in the end?
So whether you are watching the games at home, with friends or perhaps down at your local expat club we trust you have an enjoyable time. However, there is one thing which we can guarantee, whichever team you support you will be on a rollercoaster until they eventually win or leave the tournament, of that there is no doubt!
How do sporting tournaments impact upon local economies?
There is no doubt that the awarding of the Euro 2012 football tournament to a joint venture by the Ukraine and Poland has had a major impact upon the local economies. There has been a significant investment in infrastructure over the years as well as a number of new state-of-the-art football stadiums. These have obviously had a major impact upon the local employment situation as well as introducing a feelgood factor to the region in these most difficult of economic times.
Historically a number of research projects have shown that as well as impacting upon the local community, major sporting events can impact upon the economies of those who eventually win these competitions. So, if your team is lucky enough to be victorious in Euro 2012 it seems likely that you will at least have a short-term reason to forget about ongoing economic troubles. We can only hope that the worldwide economic troubles are resolved in the short term but it is amazing to think that sport can have an impact upon not only sentiment but actual economic performance in any country around the world. That is the power of sport!
It was interesting to see that the German team is the favoured amongst expats in the United Arab Emirates with England second and Spain third. This could, and probably does, reflect the underlying expat community in the region with a number of German construction workers still living in and around the UAE. However, for many people the Euro 2012 championships will give them an opportunity to forget their local economic troubles, fly the flag for their team and live the dream.
The reality for many football fans is that their team will return with their tails between their legs while for one lucky set of football fans they could be celebrating for some time to come. Sport has a major impact upon sentiment as well as economic activity and for at least a short time it can take you to a different world.