The 2016 European football championships are getting underway in France on Friday, and while for the most part I let Association Football and its associated nonsense wash over me it will be impossible to avoid over the next month. While you can try and pretend it isn’t happening the path of least resistance involves just joining in. With that in mind here is a cricket fan’s guide to Euro 2016.
Which team should I hate?
This is easy as it is the same with cricket for most people. If you are not English you are supposed to hate England. As inventors of the game filled with all sorts of arrogance that isn’t backed up by performance they are pretty easy to dislike. They haven’t won an international tournament in 50 years and to be honest most people from anywhere other than England are okay with that.
If you are an English cricket fan all of your hostility will be directed towards Australia – the oldest rival and the team that has most regularly embarrassed them on the global stage. With football that role is taken by Germany, a team who England always eventually lose to on penalties after they scrap into the knockout stages.
Who should I love?
For any global tournament the sides that you should want to do well are the plucky underdogs or some sort of hipster choice. If this were a cricket World Cup you would be cheering on the West Indies or one of the associate sides like Afghanistan - if they are allowed to take part. In recent years there has been a lot of love for Belgium and there will be some that churn out the phrase “dark horses” about them, but they are ranked second in the world according to FIFA, just behind Argentina. Their time as the doyens of the football hipster are over.
If you have to pick a team to support who are up against it you could do worse than chose Wales. They are in their first major tournament since 1958, have a posterboy for their chances in Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and they will struggle to make it out of their group and all of their fans really hate England too. If you are looking for your underdog there they are.
If you are cricket fan of any standing you will know that you should view those that run the sport through the narrowed eyes of suspicion. There has been the Big three takeover, the treatment of associates and any other number of cock-ups. If you are thinking about turning to football you need to redouble your efforts to dislike those that run the game – the ICC have nothing on FIFA and UEFA. The cesspool of corruption and nefarious activities of almost every shade by football administrators have been exposed over the last 12 months and they don’t seem like going away any time soon. Cricket fans are on safe ground here, just carry on assuming that anyone that goes to a football match in a suit is up to no good.
A Proper Tournament
This is where the organisation of the game differs between football and cricket. While the wrongdoing that has permeated the very heart of football is an outrage, at least those that run it have looked to expand the sports borders. This European Championships has gone from 16 teams to 24. The World Cup is currently 32 teams but there have long been calls for that to change to include more.
While the next Cricket World Cup will be ten teams and have a ridiculous round-robin stage with 45 group games the Euros are only 30 days long and will have just 50 games in total despite having more than twice the number of teams. While the expansionist agenda at FIFA and UEFA may have been driven by a desire to cement support in elections from newer federations, it has had some benefits for the sport.
The real question will be whether this more bloated tournament dilutes the quality of the football that is on display, but chances are that even if it does it is a price that is worth paying.
Who is the Virat Kohli?
During 2016 we have seen Kohli carry India to a semi-final at the World T20 and then Royal Challengers Bangalore to a final at the Indian Premier League. He has spent so much time carrying his teammates in the first half of this year it is a wonder he doesn’t have a stress fracture of the spine.
Come the Euros the player most likely to get his team to the latter stages on his own is Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Yeah, this is a mainstream name and it won’t win you any football hipster points for dropping it, but it doesn’t stop it being true. He is the best footballer who will be at the tournament and the rest of his teammates don’t come anywhere close. If Portugal are scoring goals it will be Cristiano doing it.
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The report quoted a circular which has been sent to all the teams informing them about the changes.
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