Euro 2021: who's scoring and who's disappointing?
Two weeks after it began on 11 June, the Uefa European Championship is entering the knockout stage. Due to the coronavirus pandemic only limited numbers of spectators have been allowed into most stadiums, and group watching in bars or at open-air cinemas is also restricted. All the more reason for Europe's press to voice big emotions, passionate praise and scathing criticism.
After Russia's fiasco in the European Championship, journalist Ilya Peresedov appeals in Vsglyad for football enthusiasm to be classified as a harmful, addictive behaviour:
“Where is the joy in feeling shame, humiliation and disgrace over the defeats of your national team (and all Russian teams in international competitions, for that matter) year after year? Aren't you sick of these BDSM games where you are never on the dominant side but regularly get sodomised? In my opinion as a non-fan, football addiction in Russia has become a bad habit practiced on a national level, comparable to smoking, alcoholism and gluttony. ... Russia has a destructive and self-destructive relationship with this sport.”
National sentiment at its best
Berlingske praises the Danish team for striking the right tone as regards Danish patriotism:
“We've been reminded of the best aspects of national sentiment. ... The national community is not only a moral imperative, it has also historically proven to be the strongest framework for democracy. The national community encourages us to obey the law, pay our taxes, respect minorities and agree to lose democratic elections. We also know that nationalism exists in malignant forms - which is precisely why we can appreciate the beautiful values that the Danish national team has brought to life.”
No goals, no stadiums, no ambition
The business paper Verslo žinios looks enviously at the teams that have qualified:
“As passion burns in Europe's stadiums, it's time to sadly note that Lithuania has never been as far away from a European Championship as it is now. ... Once again, we're faced with the eternal question of which came first: the chicken or egg? Is it because we don't have good stadiums that we can't play football, or can we not play football because we don't have good stadiums? We as Verslo žinios, who wholeheartedly wish to see Lithuania's flag in a European Championship final round one day, advise: a new strategy must be much more ambitious. As long as there are no victories in sight, the next occasion to remember Lithuanian football will not be until 2023. Then Lithuania will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its national team's first football match.”
Get to work!
We should all learn from the players' motivation and commitment, writes management consultant Antoine Henry de Frahan in La Libre Belgique:
“In football, the desire to perform overrides all other considerations. It gives us the spectacle of values that are otherwise decried and demonetised: in the age of the religion of wellness, who still dares to speak - outside of sports - of competition, the celebration of talent, the will to win, determination, unremitting effort, uncompromising discipline, the selection of the best, courage and sacrifice, and the intoxication of victory? ... Let us be aware of this gap between the over-performing of others that delights us and our own mediocrity, and use it as a reminder, as an injunction to get up, work, raise our level of play, and give the best of ourselves. The real exhilaration will be in our own performance.”
Great performance even without getting to the final
Finland's chances of getting further are slim but Finnish football has already benefited enormously from its participation in the European Championship, Helsingin Sanomat observes:
“What is left of the tournament apart from the victory against Denmark if Finland is eliminated from the tournament? The Eagle-Owls [as the Finnish players are called] have become part of the European football family. Participation in the European Championship has given Finland two unforgettable weeks of football frenzy. The biggest victory, however, is the impression the Eagle-Owls have made on Finns and foreign spectators. ... Ours is simply a good team, with good people who stand for good things. There can be no better role model for future stars on the football pitch either this summer or in the future.”
Italy hungry for the championship
Writing in the Times of Malta, columnist James Calvert is gobsmacked by the Squadra Azzurra's performance so far:
“I've been watching Italy for 40 years and I don't recall ever having seen them play this way. They had never scored more than two goals in a Euros match before. Now they have scored three in their first two games, qualifying in blistering speed. They look hungry, energetic and determined to push all the way. It really is quite an incredible transformation from the Italy teams that used to score a goal and then defend for 89 minutes.”
Turkey just the champion of coaching fees
The Turkish national team was eliminated in the group stage of Euro 2021 on Sunday with zero points. Habertürk mocks the richly paid coach:
“We know that Turkish coaches - especially our national coach Şenol Güneş, who pockets 30 million liras [2.88 million euros] a year and made sure that we returned from the group stage of the European Championship with zero points - aren't in demand abroad and never find jobs in foreign teams, but earn big money at home. ... Our clubs are broke and in debt, but our coaches, who have no record of international success, are rich. In a league barely one fifth the size of the Italian league, our coaches earn more money than their Italian counterparts.”