3 Reasons You Should Watch the Euro Cup
This is it. The Euro Cup that is.
Two years of selecting the right players and coaches to represent a nation, and 266 matches to qualify, it all boils down to this moment: 24 countries on a crusade to become Europe’s best.
Perhaps, like me, you haven’t been looking forward to this year’s Euro Cup. Perhaps, like me, you simply were going to ignore it. The idea that the people behind the UEFA and FIFA have corrupted the beautiful game, has drained the excitement out of many fans, myself included. To think of the games that should have been won, that weren’t… Nope. I wasn’t going to buy into it this time.
June 10th came around with the sight of jerseys and flags, and the sound of national chants. And there it was again. The angst, the excitement, the restlessness… Like a switch that gets turned on, football fever overcame me. As much as I want to boycott this Euro Cup, I just can't help myself from watching it for 3 simple reasons.
Here are the 3 reasons why you too should be following the Euro Cup.
It’s entertaining (yet evil) to see colleagues compete among each other
National teams are comprised of players who usually compete against each other. We then expect these competing professionals to play with each other - as a team! It is no secret that the success to winning at football is having a perfect combination of team chemistry and skills. And yet, these athletes have been playing for their respective clubs all year, barely getting any field time together. It’s absolutely brilliant, and evil at the same time.
This brings me back to 2006. When it was known that Portugal was going to play England in the quarter final, the hype wasn’t so much about the teams, but more about seeing Cristiano Ronaldo facing his team-mate and colleague Wayne Rooney. Would there be a clash? Would they be civilized? Only one word could describe the situation: EPIC!
Expect the unexpected
Playing for your national team, and carrying the hopes and dreams of an entire nation, can do one of two things: get an underdog to rise up to the occasion, or have a cup favorite completely melt down.
1992, the Czech Republic gets its independence. A mere four years later, in their first European performance, the Czechs brought their national pride all the way to the finals, beating football giants Italy, Portugal and France on their way. Now, that’s what I call making a first impression.
And what of the French, and their legendary 2010 World Cup meltdown. In a very French fashion, the players refused to train in a scheduled session, in solidarity with Nicolas Anelka, who was fired from the squad mid-tournament, for having insulted the coach, Raymond Domenech.
It brings people together in every part of the world
The FPF (Portuguese Football Federation) has come up with the perfect tagline for the 2016 Euro Cup Portuguese national team:
Não somos 11, somos 11 milhões (we are not 11, we are 11 million)
It couldn’t be a truer statement. For 30 days, people of every qualified country unite, regardless of political ideologies, religion, or socioeconomic standing, with one common goal: to be crowned Europe’s champions. And considering the current state of the world, we could use a little bit of unity.
The 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa, is the perfect example of how football can bring together people from different backgrounds. Countries across the continent rallied and supported each other, regardless of their national identity, because in the end, they all felt African. Even more remarkable is how after years of civil war, opposing factions in Ivory Coast laid down their arms to negotiate a truce, following a plea by the national football team after their successful 2006 trip to the World Cup.
It is unfortunate that the beautiful game’s image has been tarnished by a group of arrogant old-school men. But looking back, I remember the sense of unity and pride I felt supporting and cheering my own national team. And it reminds me that what truly matters doesn’t happen in an office in Zürich, it happens on the field with 11 men, and most importantly the millions of people united behind them.