Euro 2012: Let the football festivities begin!
The football festival started in Europe this Friday with the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012. Poland and Ukraine are hosting the event, while the rest of the world belts up to experience an array of great goals and intriguing games in the next three weeks.
There are many aspects of Euro 2012 that are being overlooked due to the various off-field scandals that have attached themselves to the sport. The media seems to be inclined towards reporting the gossip rather than following the team and the sport itself.
With some unsavoury match-fixing rumours still in the air in the months building up to the tournament– especially in Italy–some serious problems have overshadowed the actual sport. The Italian team has been under tight scrutiny since Domenico Criscito, one of the defenders of the national team, was implicated in a match-fixing scandal.
Another controversy revolving around this championship is the fear of racist violence in the host countries.
These allegations, accompanied with videos of a neo-Nazi mob fighting in the stands, have attracted a political reaction to the game; definitely not the kind of attention the Euro 2012 aspired to draw, nor the kind that it deserves.
The host countries, however, have denied all allegations of racism and have stated that their countries are being ‘misrepresented’. This, unfortunately, did not stop many families, from the United Kingdom, from cancelling their plans for fear of violence.
Despite all these off-field issues, the on-field fact is that Spain has been presented with an excitingly unique opportunity in football history; aiming to become the first country to win three consecutive major tournaments along with being the first to successfully defend its European title!
Spain became the European champions in Austria four years ago and then went on to become World Champions in Johannesburg in 201o. Their skill, alacrity and vigour have been fantastic and with the opportunity that behest’s them now, defeat may not be an option.
Italy has shown a lot of strength in its past records as well in that it has won the 1982 World cup and the 2006 World cup. However, what we have to wait to see is whether Italy’s past records are strong enough to beat Spain’s series of victories. If the first match, between Spain and Italy, is any indication of how well both sides are matched, we are in for a tough battle.
I’m sure football fans, like me, will be glued to the TV screens to see which giant demonstrates more strength!
Other European football giants such as Holland, France, England, and Portugal have also been eyeing the most symbolic trophies in football tournaments and aspire to carve their names on it. There could always be a surprise from an outsider like Russia, Poland or Ukraine. This will always be welcome if they play some exciting football.
The final tournament features 16 nations, and the qualifications were contested by 51 nations between August 2010 and November 2011; 16 joined the two host nations in the tournament to form the present teams. The 16 finalists who will participate in the tournament have been divided into four different groups; with Group B being referred to as the ‘group of death’ – where it is hard to predict which team out of this group will go the next round!
Group - A
Group – B
Group – C
Group - D
Republic of Ireland
All we have to do now is buckle up and enjoy the turbulent ride of the UEFA 2012. May the best team win!
Follow Hamid on Twitter @hamidbaloch