The World Cup in Brazil did not start well for Europe. Spain, England, Portugal, Italy – one after the other, supposed European powerhouses were kicked out in a first round, usually overwhelmed by Latin American talent.
There were some exceptions of course – Germany and the Netherlands carried European hopes into the semi-finals. Belgium, Switzerland and Greece punched above their weight.
For European fans disappointed with the departure of their national team, where do you channel your football fervour? Do you show European solidarity and cheer on those still carrying forward the continent’s hopes? Or are you more likely to want Brazilian flair or Argentina’s tight teamwork to prevail over your country’s traditional European rivals?
Even ahead of the quarterfinal clash between France and Germany the France24 TV network suggested French fans might put national pride behind them and support their “favourite enemy.” The Germans after all were playing a much cleaner game, they are amusing, talented and it’s always fun to watch Chancellor Angela Merkel’s celebrations, argued journalist Sébastian Seibt. He added one more reason to cheer for Germany: “It’s always nice…to support the winning team when the final whistle blows.”
Some have gone even further and suggested pan-European teams – like the one that frequently beats the United States in golf’s Ryder Cup – could be adopted for other major events. They point out that combined EU medal tallies at the Olympics would leave the opposition languishing in Europe’s wake – competitors from EU countries picked up 37 golds at this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics, ahead of Russia on 13 and Norway on 11.
Will you be rooting for a European victory in Brazil regardless which country brings the trophy back across the Atlantic? Does European success in sports make people feel more European? Or is football one arena where even convinced pro-Europeans can let their national feelings run free and cheer for whoever manages to humiliate the old foes from next door? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.