Friday, June 13, 2008

A Xenophobe's Guide to EURO 2008

Aka, what the English press really want to say but are afraid to, oEuro 2008.r, it's never too late to be prejudiced...

For those little Engländers who still haven’t picked a team to cheer, EURO 2008 gets ever harder to watch. The excitement is mounting and it is hard to 'stay Swiss' (neutral), when thousands across the Channel are having such loony fun.

It might be the island heritage, a lack of foreign language ability, or just plain ennui after England missed the boat, but there are still many English people who have yet to adopt a team at Euro 2008. But we know they are watching. Five million British tellies were tuned into Germany v Poland and seven million for Italy v Holland. Are they all just hoping the best team wins?

Switzerland are out, and there will only be two teams left come the 29th of June, so hurry up and like Roman Abramovich, adopt a team for fun you have no connection to!

Peasant folk of England: Being neutral about conflict and appreciating the finer points of the beautiful game is not in our nature. Please get tribal for the rest of the tournament and then you can go back to supporting a losing team.

To help you with your difficult choice, I have compiled a list of participants, based on the thinly-veiled opinions of them expressed in England’s national press. No intention to offend and even less intention to apologise. Kisses, John Bull x

Group A(SWITZERLAND) – The Swiss are great at mountains, lakes, army knives, cheese, rich banks, rich pastures and rich tea, sorry, chocolate. They had a lot of money stashed away to help the team, but the cuckoo clocks all show it is now too late and the sun has set over the Alps...
TURKEY – Looking in on Europe from the banks of the Bosphorus, now is the best time for Turkey to prove it is no chicken. Let us EU denizens greet our near and dear neighbours in a spirit of cultural understanding, and we hope to discover you are so much more than an over-populated nation of male moustachioed muslims who keep their women indoors making kebabs and baklava. Welcome, welcome.
CZECH REP.- Eva Herzegova you might have produced, but your team is no supermodel. Field eleven Jan Kollers and now we’re talking. With a Prague spring in your step, you can still make it to the next round and avoid the Russians again.
PORTUGAL – A defence packed like sardines, the Portuguese once ruled Brazil but now a Brazilian (Scolari) rules them. Expect their their pre-match Port to turn their opponents into a Fado lament.

Group BGERMANY – We in England have no need to mention the war. We can leave that to Italy’s Corriere dello Sport, who spoke of Joachim Low’s ‘panzer formation’. We know your Teutonic efficiency is always going to win, so we have no wish to say insensitive things like 'your blitzkrieg attack on Poland the other night' (sorry!)
AUSTRIA – We know you’re not German, we know you like genteel coffee shops and classical music. But are your boys’ choirs any good at football? Beating the Germans will be the sound of music to our ears.
CROATIA – Hu-wah, hu-wah, Hrvatska! The pride of England is at stake, boys. Don’t let us down. You might have invented the neck tie, but you will be forgiven if you undo your collars, roll your sleeves up and giive us all a crumb of comfort by winning Euro 2008. In anticipation, we have unfurled your national flag across the tables of greasy spoons up and down the nation’s motorways.
POLAND – Millions to choose from and with an impressive work ethic, the Poles are a lot more than here-today, gone-tomorrow plumbers and waitresses. They have solidarity and rubbish beer, too. They may well lack finesse and a sense of humour, but at least I bet the Polish WAGs would win their own Euro 2008.

Group C
NETHERLANDS – The Dutch will play flat and square but up front they are very blunt. Their defence is watertight after years of hard work, but the attack suffers from too much consensus. Going Dutch is their own worst enemy.
ITALY – Having failed to contact the referee ahead of the tournament, the Italians will rely on their 10-0-0 defensive shirt-pulling and free-falling formation to bring the cup home. Don’t cheat on the Emmenthal cheese now!
FRANCE – Ooh la la! Flair, flair, savoir faire. Ze French will play with a joie de vivre and a formidable élan, but Zidane was the last Frenchman in uniform to see combat since Waterloo. Voila!
ROMANIA – The news from Romanian F.A. headquarters, aka Castle Dracula, is that should the team win Euro 2008, a free concert will be put on by Romanian supergroup, Gheorghe Hagi & the Cheeky Girls. Should they beat the Azzurri, don’t expect to get a windscreen wash at Italian traffic lights for at least a week.

Group DRUSSIA – I know it’s cold in Moscow, but you didn’t need to beat us on a plastic pitch when we can’t even win on grass. Enjoy your summer on the proceeds of Chelsea, Man Utd and England fans getting fleeced by your cut-throat Muscovite capitalism and KGB government. Oh and leave the gas on for us, would you?
SWEDEN- A smorgasbord of talent, but neutral when it comes to the fight. What the Swedes lack in expression and emotion they will make up for in honest Protestant work ethic, blond-haired fans with large breasts (mostly men) and a flat-pack back four which is cheap and easy to assemble but falls apart when placed under any pressure.
SPAIN – They won’t need onions to cry if they fail yet again with so much talent. Torres will dance the flamenco around opponents while Villa will be the Matador. This raging bull will run and run so playing Spain will be no beach holiday.
GREECE – Xenophobe is a Greek word! They have lost their Marbles many a time, but in 2004, they treated us mean and kept us keen with their Apollonian heroism. Breaching the Greeks’ statuesque defence is like scaling Mount Olympus, but now the gods must come down from the clouds to regain their golden fleece. The Greeks are here playing football, not bearing gifts or smashing plates. From the land that gave us necro, paedo and all manner of philias now comes Soccerphilia!

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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