From Crisis to Carnival: Euro gives a breather

By: Shubham Ghosh
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The Euro football carnival has brought some cheering moments to the gloomy world of economics in the eurozone, which continues to wade through a serious financial crisis since the end years of the last decade. Tired of the continuous depression, the economists have found in the soccer tournament jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine, an alternative reality to breath easy.


Away from the complex economic models used to predict and analyse financial state of affairs, the economists and financial experts have turned to predict a far-easier subject matter of the Euro match results. For most economists, it is either Germany or current world champions Spain who will have the last laugh at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. The Netherlands, although it lost its first match to Denmark, was another popular favourites.

The soccer fever has acted as a remarkable adhesive for souls worried over the future of the eurozone. The strong prediction that one of the 17 eurozone nations would be crowned the champions on Jul 1 has instilled a renewed hope, which could boost the cause of unity of the area by overcoming the fading moods due to poor financial fortunes.

Economic perspectives have also played a significant role in determining this year's probable champions. While some predicted that Germany, with its better economic conditions and a rich soccer history, will be the trophy lifters, another quarter feels a victory for France, which now has a new socialist President, will help raise some of the shaky nations in the eurozone. An Italian win may also do wonders for those facing a tough time, economically.

Yet another team of economists went to the extent of using macro-economic data in complicated mathematical models for predicting the Euro '12 winners. They calculated the value of each team on the basis of the transfer pricing of their players and said the semifinals line-up will see Portugal taking on Spain and England meeting Germany. Both matches promise to be classics with traditional rivals locking horns.

It is to be noted that five of the most troubled eurozone countries have qualified for the Euro finals. They are Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. All five of them would look to bag the honours to give the countrymen some relief in times of hardship.

This also has made the analysts ask an important question: "Do sportspersons from struggling nations develop an extra urge to prove their worth as winners when compared to those from relatively prosperous ones?" Quite a valid point. We have seen nations, which after coming out from dark days of suppression (political or otherwise), chose sports as a medium of establishing their excellence before the world. The invincible West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and 1980s was a famous example of that, socio-anthropological and cultural studies of the Caribbeans assert so.

The whole episode about predicting football results by the economists may have found an encouragement in the business popularised by Paul the Octopus during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. All of Paul's 'predictions' in the Germany matches came out true besides the final where Spain beat the Netherlands.

What is in store of the eurozone crisis is for time to determine, for many believe the crucial Jun 17 elections in Greece could be a benchmark in the history of the euro and its future. If the situation worsens, given the stance taken by the new Greek government, then euro's future will look more bleak and that too before the conclusion of Euro '12 football. But that is another six-days away. As of now, economists, observers and commentators can concentrate on some of the most key encounters of football's mini-world cup. Some of the ties will be followed more eagerly, for they will more symbolic in terms of history and the looming crisis.

We already saw Spain and Italy drawing the 'debt derby' 1-1. The third 'debt club' member, Ireland, although lost their inaugural match to Croatia, but will give the Spanish and Italians a run for their money.

The Greece vs Czech Republic will be another key attraction. Although the Czech Republic is not a euro nation, but yet the match gains significance owing to the fact that Czech President Vaclav Klaus was one of the first to anticipate Greece's exit from the 'euro scheme of things'. Then we have got the heavyweights England and France locking horns. This is always a high-voltage encounter, given the historic rivalry between the once colonial masters, and the recent politico-economic equations in the eurozone has made the clash of the titans a more intense one to watch.

And there could be a Greece versus Germany in the quarter finals, provided Germany tops its group and Greece comes second in its group (or vice-versa). The match will be played just days after the Greek election and if the radical left, Alexis Tsipras, who is against the bailout agreement, comes to power, the Greko-German battle will get that extra edge all the more. It will be interesting to see in which direction the penalty shots are aired that day!

Euro 2012 has undoubtedly given the experts a golden breather from the monotonous and dull financial forecasts. The tournament, no matter what the financial state of its winner is, has at least given them a chance to indulge in a refreshing and flexible game of prediction.

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