Maybe the solution to the Euro crisis cannot be found in politics, economic, finances, but in soccer. The Euro 2012, taking place this month of June in Poland and Ukraine, has offered the opium needed to the peoples of Europe. The final four counts Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Germany, meaning that at least one of the PIGS will be playing the final. How ironic? As claimed by a Portuguese citizen, “We can have a break from the crisis of at least a month with Euro 2012, but I think both are coexisting, the cheerful mood and the crisis,” said Ricardo Teixeira, a 30-year-old doctor. “Our life is completely dominated by the crisis.” Anne Sinclair, a French journalist, was right when titling her latest column “From the euro to the Euro.”
Even though the argument of this article is mainly subjective – I could not find any charts illustrating the European national feeling – the Euro 2012 has offered a feeling of national pride again to deeply hurt nations – and not states. The PIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain – have been at the heart of the media and European attention since 2008. Very little positive movement has emerged from these countries trying to restore clean sheets, growth, and clean up their debts. The main approach has been found in austerity measures. The charts below illustrates the reality of the financial and economic climax of Europe, which do not seem to improve especially with the latest news emerging from the Spanish banking sector and Cyprus.
In a very refreshing article published in the Guardian following the famous Greece-Germany quarterfinal, Helena Smith and Kate Connolly wrote:
Greek fans did not expect their side to overcome Germany in Friday’s European Championship quarter-final, a match so heavy in political and economic significance it was billed in Athens as the “mother of all games” and in Berlin as the “ultimate euro stress test.”
The success of the national soccer team does affect positively the national mood and identity. This statement can be proven right after the victory of France in the World Cup final in 1998. The French team, nicknamed the Black, Blanc, Beur, symbolized the new French identity encompassing all ethnic groups. In the case of the Euro 2012, the mood in Portugal, Spain, and Italy is positive and hopeful. Even though soccer can bring the worst of men – read racism and hooligans – it does bring a nation all together for 90 minutes. The sense of national harmony and unity, which goes beyond political and economic beliefs and ideologies, could very much be the best remedy to a weakened and wounded nation. Pascal Boniface, Director of the excellent French think tank IRIS and football addict, talked extensively on the importance of symbols, which a victory in soccer can offer. When reflecting on the past game between Germany and Greece, he argued that it was about promoting the pride of a country on a soccer field.
The Huffington Post also ran a very charming story on politics and the Euro 2012. On the case of the Spanish team, the authors, Menelaos Hadjicostis and David Rising, wrote:
Fans said the win was redemption for a proud country and maybe – just maybe – a sign that Spain will emerge from its crushing financial chaos intact.
“Spain’s economy is against the ropes, but watching our team struggle, suffer and win against tough opposition inspires us to think that if you work hard you can overcome,” said Diego Escalante, a 28-year-old lawyer. “You can read a lot into this beautiful sport and translate it to life. Preparation and talent make up the base, and teamwork adds the cherry on top. Many Spaniards are talented, excellently prepared and educated to good levels. If we work together we will come through this.
Until one team is crown champion of Europe, the European mood will be at the rhythm of soccer. National soccer songs have never felt so good. Analysts have already killed Europe; they may have made a mistake as the frontrunner for leading Europe could very be one of the PIGS. Who said that the European dream was dead?