Sunday, 2 December 2007

The politically-correct guide to who to support at Euro 2008

With England, Scotland, Wales and the two Irelands all out of Euro 2008, the burning question for all good socialists is who should football fans from these islands support at next summer's finals?

The draw for the group stages throws up some enticing prospects and it’s not always easy to decide who to back. Johnny Turk or Sven’s Sweden? Socialist Spain or Multicultural France? As Nye Bevan once said, the language of priorities is the religion of socialism and there are tough choices to be made here based on a country’s size, politics, fan-base and footballers, fair shares of the football spoils and this author’s personal prejudices.

Here, then, is my quick guide to who to cheer on next June in Austria and Switzerland.

Group A

Switzerland: As the co-hosts, you want them to be happy, and as underdogs who’ve never won anything all the more so. The second smallest nation in the tournament (after Croatia), this is also the country that gave the world Hornussen, a cross between baseball and golf, which earns them a bonus point.

Turkey: A tough one. As with Israel, you wonder whether they’re really part of Europe at all, and their human rights record is none too hot. But nothing would upset the boneheads more than a victory for Johnny Turk. And their flag is mostly red.

Portugal: Worth supporting for coach Luiz Felipe Scolari alone, and not just because of the punch he threw at Serbia’s Ivica Dragutinovic during the qualifiers. But no matter how good Christiano Ronaldo is, he’s still a Man Utd player.

Czech Republic: They deserve something for Munich 1938 and Prague 1968 (not to mention Uruguay 1934 and Chile 1962). Beating Russia in the semis would strike a belated blow against Stalinism.

Group B

Germany: The country the English love to hate, and even if they don’t deserve it the Germans have won enough already. Mind you, despite (or perhaps because of) its Nazi past, Germany remains among the most generous of nations to foreigners. By hosting 106 refugees per 100,000 population, for example, it ranks second only to Denmark in Europe. The UK hosts 48.4.

Croatia: If small is beautiful, Croatia is the most beautiful of all at Euro 2008, with a population of under 4.5 million. But its fans can be ugly, with their notorious racist chanting perhaps the worst in the Europe.

Poland: Having got rid of half of the Kaczynski twins in their recent elections, the Poles are on their way to rehabilitation. But there’s still the other one to go before we can cheer them on in the family of footballing nations.

Austria: Co-hosts with a capital city on a human scale. But are they really Germans in disguise?

Group C

Holland aka The Netherlands: Everyone’s favourite footballing nation, even with a conservative government. Even Gerry Adams wears orange when they play.

France: Any team that has given the world Michel Platini, Eric Cantona, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henri and 100,000 football fans singing La Marsellaisse is going to be hard to top. All the more so when they’ve also managed to so upset Jean-Marie le Pen and every racist in France. Shame about Sarkozy.

Italy: Sorry, Italy. Nothing personal but until you sort things out football-wise, there’s not a neutral on the planet who won’t want you to lose. Badly.

Romania: One of only four teams to play in the first three World Cups (France, Brazil and, er, Belgium, in case you were wondering), support them if you value the upset factor and don’t care about Romanies.

Group D

Spain: There may be a Socialist government in Madrid but never forget that it was Spain’s coach Luis Aragones, who told Jose Antonio Reyes in 2004: ‘Demuestra que eres mejor que ese negro de mierda’ (‘Show that you're better than that shitty black’) when facing his Arsenal teammate Thierry Henri in a game against France. Aragones went unpunished.

Greece: Having pulled off one impossible Euopean Championship success four years ago, retaining the trophy would be even more impossible this time around. Rather like socialism in our lifetimes, so always worth cheering for.

Russia: The idea of giving Vladimir Putin anything to smile about makes my toes curdle. So it should yours.

Sweden: Even now, as England at last begins to awaken to just how good Sven Goran Eriksson was as manager, there’s still the old objection that he and the rest of the Swedes lack passion. Just get out your blue and yellow gladrags, put on your Viking helmets and praise the gods of Ikea and Volvo if the part-timers pull it off.


man city man said...

it's a no brainer. sven is swedish. sven is god. it's got to be sveden

Anonymous said...

Simple really anyone who comes here to play football from any country should sign a document and then Labour can fake passports to say people from Africa are actually English Welsh or Scots, because give it another ten year's we will not have a bloody English player playing.

believe it or not I live in Wales in which we have a non league as such, most are unpaid or paid a few quid, and yet I see players from Spain Italy and Poland being signed to play in the league of Wales with crowds sometime as low as 250. how the hell can this go on.

What makes me more worried is the lack of qualified coaches if we have no players and no coaches able to take on the England job how much lower can we get.

Anonymous said...

It's all about England with this site, isn't it? I thought Red Pepper stood up for the marginalised? Ok, the two football posts mention the 'others' in passing, but no more than that. England was the focus here, just as the Tories and NuLabour are in the press.

Scotland and Northern Ireland had considerably better qualifying campaigns than the English, beating Spain and France on the way (take that Goliath!), so where's the article on that?

Disappointed with your focus.. :(

Also, Sven was rubbish. Don't you remember?

alex65 said...

How is this post "all about England"? They get one mention, same as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -- and Ireland. One more than they deserve maybe but hardly "the focus here".

Billy O'B said...

The English have gone all Italian now haven't they with Signor Fabello? Now I want the Special One for Ireland. See how good he really is.

Anonymous said...


"All about England" quoter here.

Okay, when I posted that message I thought that this site was part of Red Pepper (from where I found this link), and was reacting more to the other article posted there about football (England specifically: the 'others' were noticeable by their absence). This article, as you point out alex65 is not really biased in that way (although, as I understand it, it's only the English who hate the Germans and the Turks), so please accept my apologies ;)

alfie tupper-fabello said...

anyone know any good italian songs?

Steve Platt said...

Hi anonymous

This blog is associated with the Red Pepper website, and this article is linked with Mark Perryman's on What next for England? on the Red Pepper home page. So it was fair enough commenting here.

For my part, my mongrel English-Irish-Welsh blood (no obvious Scottish, sorry) and my socialist-internationalist inclinations mean I could never go too far down the road of football nationalism. You probably wouldn't think that if you'd seen me at a football match, mind ...

rojoyverde said...

¿Bandera Rosa?

Probobly support the Red shirts of Spain now its home

- Rojoyverde

Bugle call said...

Sven was rubbish? Not his players then?

Paulie said...

I've always been baffled at the way that Socialists - even non-Stalinists - were prepared to allow the Soviet Union some sort of status as 'actually existing socialism' when there hasn't been a universal acceptance that Sweden has a much more legitimate claim (and continuing) to that title.

I can barely think of any aspect of British governance that wouldn't be better if it were modeled on the corresponding Swedish approach.

Sweden IS as 'actually existing' as socialism can be and should command our unequivocal support.

And seeing as you're asking us to be PC here, I might add that the women are rather easy on the eye there as well...

pablo said...

Talking of women, I'm sure that one with the ball wasn't here last I looked.

Will said...

"Turkey: A tough one. As with Israel, you wonder whether they’re really part of Europe at all"

Perhaps you should do some 'research' on just why the Israeli team is put in the same qualifiers as the European teams -- I'll give you a clue - antisemitism from its reactionary, medieval neighbors.

Jake said...

Yeah but......this is "Euro" 2008, Israel's "medieval neighbours" aren't allowed in.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the photo of slim white woman in knickers is a 'joke' on political correctness...I'm not sure it works. In fact I think it perpetuates the old racism/sexism image which football (and socialism) seriously needs to shrug off.
I've just subscribed to Red Pepper but this link makes me worry I've done the wrong thing.

Pete said...

Its got to be Sweden according to the guide at

Anonymous said...

Dear Steve,

It all went down just as you predicted. The Czechs sank their Swiss hosts, Holland eclipsed a Cannavaro-less Italy and Spain routed the Russians. So, if you fancy yourself as the football-ing equivalent of Mystic Meg, do we have a game for you!

Forget all those other, more complicated fantasy games. In Fantasy League Predictor, you predict the individual results of a set of Euro 2008 matches - for each correct outcome, you bag a point (and a full three points if you get the score right).

There's all the usual stuff that makes Fantasy League the European champion of fantasy games; Friends & Enemies Leagues, where you can dazzle your nearest and dearest with your uncanny foresight; and prizes galore, including games, replica kit, match balls and football gear, if you top the standings in a Game Phase.

Plus, the quick-and-easy entry system means you'll be up-and-running quicker than you can say Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The first Game Phase is now complete, but the second Game Phase starts today at 17:00 BST with Portugal vs. Czech Republic, so make your predictions now at:

Anonymous said...

From one anon to another

"I'm guessing the photo of slim white woman in knickers is a 'joke' on political correctness"

Would it have made a difference if she was a fat black woman?

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