Euro 2008: who will you be shouting for?
Euro 2008 is but a week away, and it will start without England, Scotland, Wales or any team from Ireland. In their absence, who should you support? If you've made up your mind already – maybe as a Manchester United fan who's decided to support Portugal because of Ronaldo, for example – then great, you won't need this diagnostic test (and good luck cheering Cristiano in Real Madrid's colours some time soon). But if you're genuinely stuck, then get yourself a pen, and a coin to toss for some of the 'just can't decide' options that follow, and find yourself a team. There are seven parts to the test, with 10 to 25 points available per section (for a total of 100), to be given to one nation or divided between several. Add up your scores at the end to see which team you'll be cheering.
Saturday 31 May 2008
PART ONE: With the masses, or on the edge? (10 pts)
Do you follow the throng, or wander far from the madding crowd? Before reading on, rate yourself on a sliding scale from 1 to 16 where 1 = entirely populist and 16 = utterly on the margins. Done? Now check the list below to see which Euro 2008 nation matches your rating (1-16). They're listed according to the number of their citizens who live in Britain.
Populist? You're with Poland, who already have the biggest resident Euro 2008 fan base in Britain. Croatia are the niche team.
Euro 2008 nations' nationals in Britain
1 Poland: 800,000 (up from 60,680 in 2001 census).
2 Turkey: 450,000 (53,964).
3 Portugal: 350,000 (36,402).
4 Germany: 300,000 (262,276).
5 Italy: c.300,000 (107,002).
6 France: c.300,000 (94,178).
7 Spain: 100,000 (54,105).
8 Netherlands: 100,000 (39,972).
9 Greece: 70,000 (35,007).
10 Russia: 60,000* (n/a).
11 Sweden: 50,000 (22,366).
12 Romania: c.50,000 (7,617).
13 Czech Republic: 35,000 (12,077).
14 Switzerland: 28,288 (n/a).
15 Austria: 12,200 (19,511).
16 Croatia: 5,000 (n/a).
NB: Current residency estimates supplied this week by each nation's embassy. The confirmed data in brackets was people born in each country but resident in Britain during the 2001 census.
*This is contrary to reports of 300,000, which includes all Russian speakers, not Russians.
My 10 points go to:
PART TWO: Player affinity (25pts)
Find the club you support on the list below, and allocate your points accordingly. If your club have no players involved, flip a coin to decide whether France or the Netherlands get your 25 points from this section. They have more British-based players than anyone else. So you might actually recognise someone if you follow them. Or give the points to Austria – they'll need them.
Arsenal fans Divide your points between Spain (Fabregas), France (Gallas), Netherlands (Van Persie), Switzerland (Djourou, Senderos), Germany (Lehmann) or Poland (Fabianski). (Eg: 15 pts to Spain, 10 to Netherlands, forget the rest).
Aston Villa Flip a coin for Netherlands (Bouma) or Sweden (Mellberg).
Birmingham 25 pts to Sweden (Larsson).
Blackburn 25 pts to Netherlands (Ooijer).
Bolton 25 pts to Greece (Giannakopoulos).
Celtic Divide points between Poland (Boruc), Netherlands (Vennegoor of Hesselink) or Greece (Samaras).
Chelsea Divide points between France (Makelele, Malouda, Anelka), Portugal (Bosingwa, Carvalho, Ferreira), Czech Rep (Cech) or Germany (Ballack). Or give 25 points to Russia – after all, everyone else at Stamford Bridge does what Abramovich wants.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 25 pts to Romania (Niculae).
Liverpool Divide points between Spain (Reina, Arbeloa, Alonso, Torres) or Netherlands (Kuyt, Babel). Or refinance your points and load them on to your club's books.
Manchester City Divide points between Sweden (Isaksson), Switzerland (Fernandes) or Croatia (Corluka).
Manchester United Divide points between France (Evra), Netherlands (Van Der Sar), Portugal (Ronaldo, Nani) or Poland (Kuszczak). Or say you're going to divide the points, but then tell the Portuguese press something completely different.
Middlesbrough Flip a coin for Turkey (Tuncay) or Austria (Pogatetz).
Newcastle Flip a coin for Turkey (Emre) or CzRep (Rozehnal).
Reading 25 pts to CzRep (Matejovsky).
Southampton Flip a coin for Poland (Saganowski) or CzRep (Skacel). Then give your points to Guernsey and float away into a fantasy world where Matt Le Tissier is still a player and Guernsey is a nation.
Tottenham 25 pts to Croatia (Modric).
West Ham 25 pts to Sweden (Ljungberg).
Wigan 25 pts to Netherlands (Melchiot). Then pinch yourself again. Yes, there really is an international at the JJB!
My 25 points go to/are shared by:
PART THREE: What kind of loser are you? (10 pts)
Your points from this section will be awarded depending on whether you've become a gracious loser or a bad loser since Euro 2008 qualifying. Your points will either support a team who eliminated your nation, or they will back a side now best placed to gain revenge for your country being eliminated.
Gracious losers who are...
a England fans, give 10pts to Croatia or Russia.
b Scotland fans, give 10pts to Italy or France.
c Wales or Rep Ireland fans, give 10pts to CzRep or Germany.
d N Ireland fans, give 10 pts to Spain or Sweden.
Bad losers who are...
a England fans, give 10pts to Germany or Spain.
b Scotland fans, give 10pts to Netherlands or Romania.
c Wales or Rep Ireland fans, give 10 pts to Portugal or Croatia.
d N Ireland fans, give 10 pts to Russia or Greece.
My 10 points go to:
PART FOUR: Ask the ambassadors (20 pts)
We asked a representative from the embassy of each Euro 2008 nation: "Why should British fans support your team?"
Switzerland A spokeswoman said: "Quite simply because we need all the support we can get! Hopp Schwiiz! Hopp Suisse! Forza Svizzera!".
Czech Republic Pavla Skachova, spokeswoman on politics and culture, said: "For the ladies, the Czech team are not just good players but handsome too. Cech, Grygera, Jankulovski, Ujfalusi, Baros: it's a joy to watch them. Czechs share with Brits a sense of humour and a nose for decent beer. We love Monty Python, and Yes, Prime Minister. Old shows, maybe, but we can't get enough."
Portugal Among many reasons supplied by spokeswoman Maria Monteiro were: "Ronaldo, Nani, Carvalho, Queiroz, Mourinho", "the Portuguese are the Brazilians of Europe", "we've had a Portuguese-UK alliance since the 1386 Windsor Treaty" and "the marriage between Catarina of Braganza and King Charles II in 1662" (which led Catarina to introduce tea drinking to England).
Turkey A spokesman said: "Turkey and Britain are friends, allies and strategic partners. The Queen's recent visit to Turkey is an indication of excellent relations. Turkish and British soldiers fought together in Crimea and Korea and still work together in Afghanistan, the Mediterranean and the Balkans. At last year's Champions League final in Istanbul, an overwhelming majority of Turkish fans supported Liverpool. Turkish fans think that the best football in Europe is in your Premier League."
Austria The ambassador, Gabriele Matzner-Holzer, replied personally: "British fans should support Austria because the Austrian team is not likely to win, even though we would really love that to happen. British people are said to side with underdogs. Austria is a small nation and needs every support it can get. With best regards."
Croatia Filip Njavro, second secretary at the embassy, embraced the lightheartedness of our request. "The answer is obvious – we have so many key players playing in the Premiership. And one of your players injured one of ours [Eduardo] so you should redeem yourself by being vocal in your support. The Scottish fans of course will support us, because England failed to qualify for the most part due to Croatia, which is likely to happen again in the World Cup qualifiers. Humorous enough?"
Germany An embassy spokesman said: "There's a history of German players who have been popular in England, back to Bert Trautmann and beyond, and more recently Klinsmann, and Ballack and Lehmann, and young players like Volz and Hitzlsperger. And of course England-Germany matches have been some of the greatest in history. We'll miss you. Support us instead?"
Poland A spokesman said: "Poles are becoming more familiar to Britons. We're here, working hard. We have historical links. Our pilots fought for you in the Battle of Britain. Our culture is well known, our food is popular. We have players at Man Utd, Celtic and Southampton. And another reason: England played Croatia and they beat you. We'll play Croatia, and while it's not diplomatic to say so, if you support us, we'll try to get revenge on your behalf."
Netherlands A spokesman said: "We're most closely related in dryness of humour. We're the least offensive of the choices on offer – nice and small. Few negatives. Half of our players play or have played in England or Scotland. Dutch players of prominence have graced British football. We aspire to flair, and attacking football. You'll have more fun with us. And like England, we've only ever won one tournament and that was a long time ago. Go mental with the Oranjie."
Italy Ambassador Giancarlo Aragona responded personally, including a reference to an opinion poll this week that said Italy will be the choice of most British fans. "You should support Italy in Euro 2008 because you may like to add football to the list of Italian "Fs" the British are fond of: food, fashion, furniture and Fabio [Capello]. You will be in good company, according to recent polls!"
Romania: Cristina-Narcisa Nita, the press attaché, said: "Because Romania, like Britain, has a long tradition of international football, and was one of only four teams, the others being Brazil, France, and Belgium, that took part in the first three World Cups. More important, our players starred for your clubs: Petrescu, Dumitrescu, Popescu. Most important, we need our British friends, and 'Come on, Romania' is easy to learn. 'Hai, Romania!'"
France Spokesman Julien Voituriez said: "Because 300,000 French living in the UK are a testament to our affection for this country, and 200,000 Britons living in France return us the favour. 500 000 people can't be wrong... Because our two countries have known each other for 1,000 years, you might as well support an old friend rather than a stranger... Because if we weren't in the Euros and England was, we would surely support them ... Because our supporters look very nice [see main graphic picture]."
Greece A spokesman was too modest to sing his country's praises. "I regret that it is not in our line of duty to provide an answer."
Sweden A spokeswoman said: "Fredrik Ljungberg. ABBA. Sweden would support you if we were out and you were in. We're very environmentally friendly. Most of us speak your language. Sweden and UK signed a friendship and trade treaty in 1654 and we have been friends ever since."
Spain A spokesman said: "We're two countries in Europe on the outskirts of Europe. Two monarchies. Two former empires. The two most spoken languages in the western world. Spain is the country most visited by Britons in the world: 16 million a year. No other two countries have so many flight connections. We have players at Liverpool, Arsenal. Coaches at Liverpool and Tottenham. The English league is popular in Spain, and vice versa."
Russia An embassy source, stressing his opinion was personal as opposed to the official view of The Management, said: "In Russia, it's considered to be good taste to support those who have just beaten you. Be chivalrous, behave nobly, and support Russia."
My 20 points – for the most endearing answer(s) – go to/are shared by:
PART FIVE: Glory hunter or minnow backer? (15pts)
Now to the serious business of whether you want to support a team with a supposed solid chance of winning, or whether you want to get behind a minnow. To inform your choice, previous winners of this tournament were: 1960 USSR; 1964 Spain; 1968 Italy; 1972 West Germany; 1976 Czechoslovakia; 1980 West Germany; 1984 France; 1988 Netherlands; 1992 Denmark; 1996 Germany; 2000 France; 2004 Greece. Counting only the nations at Euro 2008, and taking into account first, second and third places, the most successful nations are ranked:
1 Germany, including as West Germany. (3 wins, 2 runner-up).
2 France (2W).
3 Russia, as part of USSR (1W, 3 Rup).
4 Cz Rep, incl as part of Czechoslovakia (1W, 1 Rup, 1x3rd).
5= Italy, Spain (1W, 1 Rup each)
7 Netherlands (1W, 1x3rd)
8 Greece (1W)
8 Croatia, as part of Yugoslavia (2 Rup).
10 Portugal (1 Rup).
Never had a top-three finish: Switzerland (in two previous tournaments), Sweden (in three), Poland (debut in finals), Romania (three), Turkey (two), Austria (debut).
Circle a or b or fill in c
a I love a favourite, so 15 pts to GERMANY
b I love a hopeless outsider, so 15 pts to AUSTRIA
c My gut instinct says time for a change, so 15pts to
PART SIX: It's either in the stars... or in the other stars (10pts)
Famously, some managers rely on astrology to help guide them, including France's Raymond Domenech, so why shouldn't you? Spookily, the 16 managers at Euro 2008 share a mere seven star signs, and three signs alone (Scorpio, Virgo and Leo) cover 10 of them. For those of an astrological bent, pick a manager who shares your sign (or else a sign you like).
Scorpio Bruckner (CzRep), Scolari (Por), Van Basten (Neth), Hiddink (Rus).
Virgo Fatih Terim (Tur), Bilic (Croa), Donadoni (It).
Leo Rehhagel (Gre), Aragones (Sp), Beenhakker (Pol).
Aquarius Loew (Ger), Domenech (Fr).
Taurus Hickersberger (Aut), Piturca (Rom.)
Libra Kuhn (Swit).
Cancer Lagerback (Swe).
I believe in star signs, and 10pts go to:
You think that's bunkum. In which case, instead we've found a famous Briton who shares each manager's birthday, not necessarily in the same year. Who gives you the right vibe?
If it's Angela Rippon (born 12 Oct, same as Kuhn), then vote Switzerland.
For Robert Louis Stevenson (13 Nov, same as Bruckner), vote CzRep.
For Bryn Terfel, Welsh baritone (9 Nov, Scolari), vote Portugal.
For Martin Chambers, Pretenders drummer (4 Sep, Fatih Terim), vote Turkey.
For Sheena Easton (27 Apr, Hickersberger), vote Austria.
For Richard Ashcroft, Verve frontman (11 Sep, Bilic), vote Croatia.
For Kirsty Wark (3 Feb, Loew), vote Germany.
For Alan Whicker (2 Aug, Beenhakker), vote Poland.
For Johnny Marr (31 Oct, Van Basten) vote Netherlands.
For Hugh Grant (9 Sep, Donadoni), vote Italy.
For Dave Rowntree, drummer with Blur (8 May, Piturca), vote Romania.
For Vic Reeves (24 Jan, Domenech), vote France.
For Philip Larkin (9 Aug, Rehhagel), vote Greece.
For Anita Brookner (16 July, Lagerback), vote Sweden.
For Beatrix Potter (28 July, Aragones), vote Spain.
For Gordon Ramsay (8 Nov, Hiddink), vote Russia.
I believe in B-list star signposts, and 10pts go to:
PART SEVEN: Going the extra mile (10pts)
This debate is only just starting to hot up. The coming week is sure to see a plethora of campaigns to attract British support for one nation or other. Several are already up and running. These include: a Myspace page featuring a song by William Hetherington, an England fan who has switched allegiance to Poland and has written a song about it; a website under construction by Dutch fans attracting Brits with various larks to convince you you're Dutch; and a website run by the World Development Movement, a group that monitors world poverty, and compares Euro 2008 nations on indices including carbon emissions, aid and a happiness scale. After looking up the links (or not), cast your last points.
My 10 miscellaneous points go to:
Good luck. And as Gary Lineker might say, may the best German team win, after extra time and penalties.
I now officially support:
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