Photo by PoPville flickr user Pablo Raw
Washington, DC Embassies Weigh in on the UEFA Euro 2016 Championship
By Christopher Teed of DC Embassy Events
The UEFA European Championship returns June 10th this year at venues across France. For those not familiar with the soccer tournament, it is hosted every 4 years in between World Cups, and currently features 24 teams who qualified from across Europe. This will be the third time France has hosted the event, hosting the inaugural event in 1960, and again in 1984. Spain, the current champions from 2012, has had the most success in the history of the tournament, winning 3 times, the same amount of titles as Germany. Having won the tournament the last time they hosted in 1984, France is the favorite this year, along with a strong German team.
This is also the first year that the UEFA European Championship has expanded from sixteen to twenty four teams, giving many more fans across Europe the chance to watch their beloved home sides. While there are some perennial favorites in the tournament, this season’s English Premier League champion Leicester City is evidence that anyone can win, however long the odds. We went to the foreign embassy staff here in Washington to get some insight into why they think their team can win the tournament this year.
Ambassador of Austria, HE Wolfgang A. Waldner: “Having competed numerous times in the FIFA world cup, it may come as a surprise that Austria has qualified for a EURO tournament for the first time ever! And what a resounding qualification it has been: With a commanding series of nine wins and one draw, Austria qualified without a single defeat in a very strong group. Furthermore, Austrian players were also hugely successful with their respective clubs: David Alaba won his fourth German Bundesliga title in a row with Bayern Munich, our team captain Christian Fuchs rose to fame with the unexpected English Premier League champion Leicester City, and Marc Janko and Aleksandar Dragovic won their leagues with Swiss FC Basel and Ukrainian Dynamo Kiev. These successes make Austria proud and prove how far we have come in recent years: From the modest FIFA ranking number 94 in 2007, Austria has risen like a Phoenix to the eleventh best team in the world today! Besides, not less than six players in Austria’s starting eleven have an immigrant background: With family roots in Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Serbia or Turkey, all our players grew up and flourished in Austria, serving as a perfect illustration of modern Austria: A multitude of religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds forming one pluralistic society. And this summer, we will grow even closer together with our shared goal: Winning the EURO 2016!”
Economic Information Officer, Embassy of Belgium, Bart Deelen: “Belgium can not only win Euro2016, they should be considered one of the favorites to do so. The current Belgian team is known as Belgium’s Golden Generation. And for good reason: with few exceptions, many of the players are stars with some of Europe’s top teams. (more…)