Any Eurocrat trying to think up a PR campaign for battered Europe should watch TV tonight. Euro 2012, the football tournament that kicks off with Poland against Greece in Warsaw, offers a vision of the perfect Europe.
In other spheres Europeans are becoming weak and irrelevant. They struggle to afford foreign wars. Six of the world’s seven biggest economies measured by purchasing power parity are outside the EU, and Greece might exit the euro mid-tournament following elections on June 17 .
But in football, Europe still rules.
All three countries on the podium in both the last two World Cups were euro zone members. And in football unlike in economics, peripheral European countries have caught up with the core. For decades football’s prizes mostly went to founding members of what became the EU: Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. Countries on Europe’s periphery had dysfunctional indigenous styles of play: the British favored kick and rush, Greeks dribbled too much, and Spaniards prized the “furia española”, the frenzied but thoughtless “Spanish fury”.Page 1 of 4 | Next Page