After what seems to have been a lifetime wait, the Euro 2012 football tournament is now upon us and football fans around the world are starting to get excited about the potential for their teams. Football is very unique as it creates a mass of opinions, intense rivalries but it also has the ability to bring football fans together in harmony at high-profile tournaments such as the Euro 2012 event.
We therefore thought it would be interesting to see which teams expats believe have a chance of winning the Euro 2012 trophy. While some of the voting patterns are very predictable there are some anomalies between different countries which show that football is not an exact science and is very much down to opinion.
There can be few people around the world who applauded when the footballing authorities decided to award the 2012 tournament to the Polish and Ukrainian governments. Immediately there were major concerns that the financial strength of these two countries was insufficient to deliver not only an acceptable infrastructure for the invasion of football fans from around the world but there were also concerns about the standard of football stadiums. However, the Ukrainian and Polish authorities have been able to deliver state-of-the-art football stadiums as well as an infrastructure which can easily cope with the influx of fans expected.
In the eyes of many people the Euro 2012 tournament has come at an opportune moment when you bear in mind the current economic challenges facing European governments and indeed governments further afield. Football gives fans the ability to dream the dream, support their team and for just a very short space of time they can step out from their everyday life into a world of their own. It is this ability to leave your own financial woes behind for just a few days which for many people is literally worth its weight in gold. Football really does have the capacity to take you away from your everyday life.
The event itself has attracted some of the best names in European football and indeed while the likes of Germany, Spain, England, Portugal, etc have been put forward as favourites for the tournament, the reality is that anybody who has made it through to the tournament has the right to believe they can win it. While some of the less fancied teams such as Greece, Republic of Ireland, etc are unlikely to win the tournament there is nothing to say they cannot leave their own special mark on the event.
Germany (26.93% of the vote)
Football fans around the world will not be surprised to learn that Germany attracted the majority of votes in this online poll taking just short of 27% of the vote across all expat regions. For many people it is the strength in depth, the flair players and the deep seated belief that Germany will succeed which has attracted the attention of fans. Whether or not the German team is able to deliver the Euro 2012 trophy remains to be seen but it seems likely they will be there in the final shakeup.
We thought it would be interesting to take a look at the relative economies of the various fancied teams and interestingly the German economy is perhaps the strongest in Europe at this moment in time. Many people believe that Germany is currently the backbone of Europe and Chancellor Merkel while under pressure to bailout struggling European economies also needs to juggle this with the needs and requirements of German voters. This is certainly a very tricky situation for Chancellor Merkel to find herself in with no obvious solution.
On the whole the various expat communities around the world seemed to flip-flop between Spain and Germany as favourites to lift the Euro 2012 trophy. As a consequence Spain, which is now looking to secure its third major trophy in succession, fell into second place with 21.58% of the overall vote. In many ways it is a battle between the flair and the natural skill of the Spanish team against the flair and the determination of the German team. Who do you think will succeed?
Unfortunately we are not able to be as upbeat and hopeful about the Spanish economy as we are about the Spanish football team. The economy is currently struggling to make ends meet and while a €100 billion banking bailout has been well received there are concerns that the economy could be next to require a bailout. If this was the case then the required funding would dwarf the banking bailout and send shockwaves across the world. The very fact that the yield on Spanish sovereign debt has now broken the 7% tipping point is of major concern with many believing there is no way back without a financial bailout.
In years gone by there has been a degree of blind faith in the England football team in relation to World Cup and European championship tournaments. In many ways this blind belief in a team which has left fans down time and time again has disappeared but rather strangely there is a growing belief that less expectation and less pressure upon the England team could result in a better performance. This is potentially the weakest England team for over 30 years although slowly but surely they are showing signs of life and expectations are starting to rise.
The UK economy is not in the same upbeat position as the English football team having suffered significant economic pressure for some time now. Indeed the government recently confirmed that the economy has slipped back into recession amid signs that the various austerity measures introduced by the coalition government are not working. However, there is some anger amongst UK voters because the reduction in public-sector spending is putting significant financial pressure on individuals and families but the government seems to be able to find billions of euros to assist with bailing out ailing European economies. The reality is that the UK economy is heavily dependent upon European trade and the government has a vested interest in saving Europe.
If you were to look at any football team on football terms alone then there are few who would come anywhere near the Dutch team which contains some of the best players in the world and a reputation which few can match on the field. However, it is the reputation off the field which has caused more harm than good for the Dutch national team as time after time again we have seen individual grievances and infighting wreak havoc on team spirit. There were hopes that this would be avoided in Euro 2012 although this does not appear to be the case.
It is not very often that you will see the Dutch economy hitting the headlines especially when you bear in mind that Italy and Spain are on the verge of collapse. However, Holland is an integral part of the Eurozone and as such it is currently experiencing severe difficulties. The economy has again slipped into recession and while the authorities believe it will return to growth in the latter part of 2012 there is a growing feeling this is optimistic to say the least. If the Italian and the Spanish economies require a financial bailout then this will hold back financial growth across Europe.
The situation with the Italian national football team is very reminiscent of the ongoing challenges faced by the Italian economy. Italian football is currently under something of a cloud with allegations of financial mismanagement and alleged match fixing which are currently under investigation. This is obviously not the perfect buildup to a major football tournament and as a consequence it seems that supporters of Italy have disappeared in their droves. However, Italy has some of the most skilful players in the world, a very strong defensive backline and a belief in itself. Can the Italian football team grasp victory from the jaws of defeat?
As we touched on above, the Italian economy is itself under something of a cloud with again allegations of financial mismanagement and financial irregularities. Many people have been talking about the Italian problem for many years now but in reality it is only the ongoing worldwide economic downturn which has brought the situation to the fore. While the Spanish economy is currently grabbing the headlines there is growing concern that the yield on Italian sovereign debt continues to rise and economic growth is subdued. In the eyes of many people it is almost inevitable that Italy will at some point require a financial bailout from its European partners.
It seems very bizarre to learn that France is bottom of the major teams performing in Euro 2012 in the eyes of many expats. This is a team which is currently on a 20+ match unbeaten run and a team which contain some of the superstars of world football. They may have flattered to deceive in recent tournaments but there is a growing belief amongst the French squad that they have what it takes to bring the trophy home. It would take a brave person to write off the chances of the French national team but it seems that some fans have already made up their minds.
Back home the situation in France is very different with a major change in the political arena, with Pres Sarkozy biting the bullet, and an economic situation which continues to worsen each day. The introduction of a new far left government to the French political scene has caused ripples of unrest across Europe and in many ways damaged the French standing in the Eurozone. It now seems as though France is at loggerheads with its former ally Germany and unable to hang on to the coattails of its former friend. Whether France requires a financial bailout very much depends on the Italian and Spanish economies and whether they are able to hold their own in the short to medium term.
While there were a number of tongue-in-cheek comments regarding other potential winners of the Euro 2012 tournament there seems to be growing support for Russia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and even the Republic of Ireland has been mentioned in dispatches. Whether or not any of these teams will eventually lift the trophy remains to be seen but the fact is that each and every team currently competing in Euro 2012 has won the right to be there and won the right to believe.
As we touched on above, in the eyes of many people the timing of Euro 2012 could not have been better as it will allow football fans across the globe to at least take their minds off their current financial woes for a short space of time. It is very easy to play down the role that sport, and in particular football, plays in the worldwide economy and with the worldwide population but it is literally there for all to see. Hundreds of thousands of football fans have made their way over to Poland and the Ukraine finding money for their trips which many never knew existed!
This is the power of football.
Expats around the world
There were a number of interesting anomalies with regards to voting patterns from expat communities around the world although on the whole the more favoured teams seemed to flip-flop between Germany and Spain. The England team has attracted more than its fair share of interest from expats around the world although whether this is blind faith or indeed a belief that limited expectations and limited pressure will allow the squad to perform remains to be seen.
There was sporadic interest in Italy, France and Holland although when you consider that France are currently on a 20+ match unbeaten run it is difficult to understand why there is so little support for the team. Whether football fans around the world believe that this squad has peaked and is now too old or indeed whether they now think the team is just not good enough there seems to have been something of a backlash against the French and their chances of winning Euro 2012. In reality we will only see at the end of the tournament which team was good enough and which fans will be celebrating!
Where will you be watching the Euro 2012 games?
One sideshow from the underlying online poll which we carried out were a number of discussions regarding how and where football fans around the world will be watching the Euro 2012 games. It seems that many of us in the UK take for granted the free to view services available when in reality these are not always available in other areas of the world. Indeed it is evident that while as expected some of the larger satellite TV companies have bought into the Euro 2012 story we have also seen significant investment by some of the less well-known names in satellite TV.
The reality is that whether you are looking to watch the game at home, with friends or even down at your local pub with a pint or two there will be more than enough options for you. Football is a global phenomenon and there has been a major investment on behalf of TV companies in the Euro 2012 tournament. Watch and enjoy, and the best of luck!
How do sporting tournaments impact upon local economies?
While very often we are blinded by the start of a new tournament and the chance to raise the trophy at the end, it is sometimes worth sitting back and considering how sporting events such as the Euro 2012 tournament impact on local communities. Since the Polish and Ukrainian governments found that they had been awarded the Euro 2012 tournament they have been investing significant money into not only state-of-the-art football stadiums but also in upgrades to their infrastructure. Despite initial concerns that construction work was falling behind they have managed to deliver a more than credible performance.
This significant investment across-the-board obviously had an impact upon employment numbers and generated something of a feelgood factor as the beginning of the tournament approached. This is a feelgood factor which is also very often relevant to the winning teams who have been known to take away some of the joy back to their homeland. Can you imagine the joy, celebration and partying if the England team was to lift the trophy for the first time since 1966? Did you experience the Spanish joy when they won the last World Cup or the last European Championships?
The reality is that victory in any major sporting event does have an impact upon local economies but it also has an impact upon the economy of the winning nation. Sport is a very emotional and a very powerful tool in the armoury of politicians and governments around the world. Do not underestimate it!
While there were a number of predictable voting patterns within this online poll it was interesting to see how the various expat communities around the world saw the potential winner of the Euro 2012 tournament in a very different light. On the whole there was significant support for Germany and Spain, as you would expect, although England also fared very well as did the Italian team. The reality is that sporting events such as Euro 2012 have the ability to allow people to step out of their everyday lives for just a short space of time, support their team, dream the dream and leave their own woes behind.
At this point in time we are no nearer finding out the eventual winner of Euro 2012 but the reality is that each and every team which qualified for the tournament has the right to believe and the right to be there. This tournament has probably come at an opportune moment for those experiencing financial woes across the world and for those supporters of the eventual victors the party will go on for a little while longer!