While there was no doubt there is a large expat community in the USA it is also worth noting that this is a country which has finally begun to take football to its heart. Millions of dollars have been invested in the various US football leagues and indeed a number of European superstars have made the journey over to the US. As a consequence we should not write off the opinions of the US expat community and indeed the US football community.
We will therefore take a look at the votes from expats living in the US to see whether there are any trends and any surprises.
When the Euro 2012 tournament was awarded to a joint venture between Poland and Ukraine there were many people who believed this was a recipe for disaster. These two countries had a reputation for failing to deliver infrastructure projects on time and they were indeed concerns about the finances of the underlying governments. However, these concerns appear to have been misplaced with Poland and Ukraine finally delivering a world-class infrastructure and world-class football stadiums for the Euro 2012 tournament.
The tournament itself has perhaps come at an opportune moment for those living in Europe bearing in mind the ongoing economic challenges facing the likes of Spain, Italy, France, Germany, UK etc. There is no doubt that sport has a tendency to allow you to forget your troubles for just the shortest period of time, follow your team and live in a dream world where you win every game and win the tournament. While many will look at the so-called favourites and the so-called underdogs in Euro 2012, the beauty of football is the fact that nothing is ever guaranteed as we have seen when an unfancied Greece team won the tournament not so long ago!
Unfortunately there has been some negative press comment regarding the Ukraine/Poland Euro 2012 tournament although thankfully much of this appears to have been unfounded. Now that we have finally reached the tournament we can see some of the world’s best footballers in action, dream the dream and hope that our team will lift the trophy. Until the tournament is over there is every chance that your team can progress, can beat expectations and with any luck can be victorious.
Unfortunately for the vast majority of us the Euro 2012 dream may well be short lived but for that short period we can believe.
England received 25.58% of the expat vote in the USA which places them as favourites, at least amongst the expat community, to finally lift a trophy for the first time since 1966. Many England fans will be hoping that this is a sign of things to come but when you consider some experts believe this is the worst team we have had 30 years, perhaps this is wishful thinking? However, if you don’t believe your team can be victorious then why do you follow them?
Looking back at the UK economy this is certainly a difficult period for those living in the country due to the fallout from the European situation. The UK government had more than its fair share of problems prior to the European recession which has certainly spread and weakened economies in the region. Despite the fact that the UK is not a member of the Eurozone and has not adopted the euro, taxpayers are concerned that public finances are being used to prop up ailing European economies. However, in many ways the UK economy is aligned with the European economy and very reliant upon trade between the two.
Unbiased football fans around the world will probably be surprised to see Spain as the second favourite team behind England amongst expats in the US. The reality is that the Spanish team is now looking for its third consecutive major trophy victory having bagged the last World Cup and the last Euro Championships. Whether or not this team can deliver again remains to be seen but there is no doubt they have the flair, they have the skill and they have the passion to go all the way. However, will a competitor take up the fight and make a stand?
The ongoing success of the Spanish national team is most certainly at odds with the Spanish economy which continues to go from one disaster to another. Only recently the government was forced to request a €100 million bailout for its banking industry with many suggesting a further bailout would be required for the overall economy. Critical sovereign debt yields are now approaching 7% which for many is seen as the tipping point of no return. Whether the government can turn the economy around in the short term is highly debatable but a win at the Euros would most certainly allow the population to forget their troubles for just a few days!
No matter what you think of the German football team they always seem to be there or thereabouts in major tournaments around the world. While some will be surprised to see Germany in third place, trailing the UK and Spain, this is a team of individuals who seem to gel together in the most astounding way. Other countries can only look and learn at the team spirit which the German management seems to create at every major tournament and you would be foolish to write off the Germans as a potential winner of Euro 2012.
In many ways the German economy perfectly reflects the strength of the German national football team and the fact that it does lead the way in Europe. Chancellor Merkel has been under massive pressure over the last few weeks amid concerns that German finances are propping up a number of failing European economies. There are signs that the German economy itself is beginning to weaken which is a major concern for investors who believe that Germany is the backbone of Europe. There is no doubt that whatever happens in the short, medium and longer term the German influence on the European economy will increase.
The French national football team is currently on a winning streak which is now in excess of 20 international games. This is an astounding feat by any stretch of the imagination and perfectly reflects why France is amongst one of the favourites in the minds of many. Despite the fact that it has polled a fairly low vote in this particular instance there are very few people who have been brave enough to write off France as potential victors in 2012.
For many years, under the stewardship of Pres Sarkozy, the French government managed to grab onto the coattails of their German counterparts and remained at the head table of European economies. However, the recent introduction of a new government firmly set against austerity across Europe has put the French as odds with their former German allies. When you also take into account that the French economy has dipped back into recession the situation seems to be getting more difficult by the day. While Spain and Italy are the more favoured economies to collapse in the short to medium term there is some concern about the long-term ability of the French government to fund public sector expenditure.
The Dutch football team have for many years been seen as one of the most flamboyant, most attractive to watch but also amongst the most annoying because of their inability to come together for major tournaments. Infighting has time and time again ripped apart the Dutch national team and despite high hopes in this particular tournament it seems that many believe ongoing issues between team members will play a major part. When you consider the skill and the ability in this particular squad it is a crime that individual differences are yet again being discussed in the open.
The Dutch economy has recently moved back into recession amid signs that the government is struggling to fund everyday public sector expenditure. Austerity measures are being introduced across Europe and while the Dutch government believes the economy will begin growing again in the latter part of 2012, this forecast was made assuming that Spain and Italy recover under their own steam. Unfortunately, it seems as though this forecast for growth in 2012 may have to be revisited because it is highly likely that either Spain or Italy, or indeed both of these countries, will require some form of financial bailout in the short to medium term.
For those who have followed football for many years, the Italian football team has become one of the more dependable and predictable. Each and every Italian squad seems to have players we have never heard of who come to the fore, who stand up to be counted and can make a difference. However, unfortunately Italian football has been wrecked by infighting, accusations of financial irregularities and accusations of match fixing. As a consequence, confidence is low and many people believe that the Italian team will experience an early exit at Euro 2012.
The Italian economy in many ways reflects the Italian national football team having gone through a period of growth only to fall flat on its face amidst accusations of financial mismanagement. There have been rumours for some time of issues regarding Italian government expenditure and the fact that the economy has now moved back into recession is not a good sign. The interest rate on Italian sovereign debt is very quickly moving towards the 7% tipping point at which the government may be forced to go cap in hand to European members for a bailout. If Italy falls then many more will follow!
There were a number of tongue in cheek comments regarding potential winners of Euro 2012, including Mexico, US and “who cares” but Ireland, Poland and Russia were also mentioned in dispatches. While the more fancied team such as Spain and Germany continue to grab the headlines, there is no doubt that the less fancied team such as Greece and the Republic of Ireland have earned their right to be there.
The real beauty of football is the fact that despite some teams having exceptional individuals at their disposal this is not always enough to win the major tournaments. The Dutch national team is a prime example of this, consisting of highly skilled individuals who cannot play as a team, while teams such as Greece have pulled together in the past to pull off famous victories. If every game was predictable, every result was guaranteed before kick-off then what would be the point of watching football?
The reality is that football is as unpredictable today as it ever has been and while some of the major stars of the tournament may grab the headlines, who will be the real stars come the end of the tournament?
Expats in the USA
While the expat community in the USA is perhaps not as varied and as deep as those in other areas of the world it is worth noting that Spain and England appear by far and away the most popular football teams in the country. It is also worth noting the massive increase in interest amongst US football fans after a number of false dawns over the years and unsuccessful investment into various football ventures.
The very fact that the USA attracted the third largest number of votes from the expat community in our online poll should not be overlooked and their opinion should be taken into consideration. It may be more difficult today to obtain the so-called “green card” for the go-ahead to work in the US but there is still a significant expat community in the region. There is no doubt that football fans across the expat community and the local domestic population will most certainly be enjoying the Euro 2012 games together although who they will be supporting is a matter for debate.
Where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
While the subject of who will win Euro 2012 is very much at the forefront of the minds of football fans it is interesting to see how and where fans will be watching the games themselves. There are a number of threads on the expatforum.com website suggesting that while many countries will have the games on free to view TV a number of fans will need to subscribe to various satellite channels.
Such is the growing popularity of football that we have actually seen a number of Middle East satellite companies and Far East companies mentioned as potential suitors for Premier League football contracts. So, it seems that no matter where about in the world you live there will be more than enough opportunity to grab each and every Euro 2012 games in its entirety. Whether you choose to watch with friends, family or indeed down at the local pub we trust that you enjoy the games and your team is successful.
However, the reality is that the vast majority of football fans will be disappointed come the end of Euro 2012 and only a small select band of winners will remember this tournament forever and a day.
How do sporting tournament impact upon local economies
Only a few years ago you would have argued that football tournaments around the world would have had a limited impact upon the US economy where interest in football (otherwise known as soccer in the US) was minimal to say the least. However, when you take into account both the domestic community and the expat community there is no doubt that there is now significant interest in both Euro 2012 and the World Cup 2014.
History shows that host nations do experience significant economic benefits during the run-up to the tournaments and in the immediate aftermath. There is also evidence to show that successful teams will also see their local economies increase in activity due to the feelgood factor which winning a tournament such as Euro 2012 or indeed the World Cup (or any other sporting event) can bring.
Many people will be surprised to learn that votes from the expat community in the United States of America were the third largest in this particular poll. However, when you bear in mind the ever increasing popularity of football in the US and the number of European superstars now moving to the US football league it is perhaps not so surprising.
We are starting see the emergence of a pattern with the likes of Spain, Germany and England by far and away the most popular teams amongst expats around the world. Whether this is blind faith or blind hope in relation to England fans remains to be seen but despite the fact that their team have not won a tournament since 1966 the craving for success continues.
Football is now big money around the world and when you bear in mind that the US population has very much hooked up with this particular sport after many years in the shadows we can expect significant investment in the medium to longer term.