Europei di calcio e candidature congiunte / Two is better than one: nations’ joint bidding for hosting the European Football Championship

30/06/2012 § 3 commenti

Massimo Giovanardi

[For the English version see below]

A pochi giorni dalla conclusione di Euro 2012, desidero compiere un paio di riflessioni su di un aspetto di questa competizione calcistica che anima il vecchio continente: la candidatura congiunta. Per la terza volta nella storia di questa competizione, infatti, gli europei di calcio sono stati organizzati in due paesi anziché in uno: Polonia e Ucraina.

Prima Belgio e Olanda, nel 2004. Poi Austria e Svizzera nel 2008. Infine Polonia e Ucraina, che nel 2007 hanno ottenuto dall’UEFA la possibilità di organizzare l’evento, battendo l’Italia e un’altra coalizione, quella formata da Ungheria e Croazia. Anche nella lotta per aggiudicarsi Euro 2008 più di una coalizione avevano presentato la loro candidatura: oltre a Svizzera-Austria, c’erano Scozia-Irlanda, Grecia-Turchia e Croazia-Bosnia. Queste ultime accoppiate, in particolare, sono interessanti in quanto appaiono di segno opposto rispetto antiche rivalità politiche e culturali.

Se pensiamo alle grandi competizioni sportive come opportunità di branding per le nazioni, tante sono le domande che mi sorgono spontanee guardando queste alleanze tra federazioni calcistiche. Certo, un paese è un territorio particolarmente complesso e non sempre la vicinanza tra gli apparati che gestiscono l’organizzazione del pallone nazionale  significa un più generale e profondo allineamento strategico.

Nel caso di Polonia e Ucraina, la candidatura congiunta ha espresso una narrative comune per entrambi gli stati. Seguendo l’interessante articolo di Kris Kotarski sul Guardian, è possibile ripercorrere la storia della candidatura congiunta. Avviata nel 2003, essa ha segnato la luna di miele tra i due governi nazionali per alcuni anni fino al 2007, anno della vittoria.  In seguito, tuttavia, la liaison tra Polonia e Ucraina si è progressivamente incrinata. A parte l’esito specifico di questa esperienza, che vi invito a ripercorrere leggendo l’articolo del Guardian, sarebbe molto interessante analizzare (e comparare) il processo di co-bidding dal punto di vista della diplomazia pubblica e del nation branding.

Fino a che punto lo sport può diventare un ambito strategico condiviso tra due o più stati?

– – – –

Just one day until the end of Euro 2012, I would like to put down some sparse thoughts on the big sporting event that every four years animates the Old Continent. In particular, I would like to talk today about joint bidding. Indeed, for the third time in its history, the European Football Championship has been hosted by two countries instead of one: Poland and Ukraine.

For the first time, Belgium and the Netherlands won a joint bid in 2008. Afterwards Austria and Switzerland in 2008 and finally Poland and Ukraine, that in 2007 were given by UEFA the chance to stage the sporting event by UEFA, by prevailing against another coalition formed by Hungary and Croatia. Also if we look at the 2008 bid, we can find more than one coalition composed of two countries: besides Austria-Switzerland, we had Scotland-Ireland, Greece-Turkey and Croatia-Bosnia Herzegovina. These last couples, in particular, are really interesting since they seem to contradict the cultural and/or political rivalry being in place between the two parts of the tandem.

In the case of Euro 2012, the joint bid advanced by Poland and Ukraine expressed also a common political narrative. Following the interesting article by Kris Kotarski in the Guardian, we can go through the birth and development of the joint bidding. Started in 2003, it marked a sort of honey moon between the two national governments for a couple of years until 2007, when the victory was gained. Finally, the liaison began fading away little by little. Apart from the final outcome of this process, it would be really worth analysing (and comparing) the co-bidding practice through the point of view of public diplomacy and nation branding.

The question here is the following: to what extent can sport become a strategic area of co-operation between two or more states?

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§ 3 risposte a Europei di calcio e candidature congiunte / Two is better than one: nations’ joint bidding for hosting the European Football Championship

  • Ares ha detto:

    Massimo, Though your article asks an interesting question, I think that it is besides the point at the moment. This European cup in the midst of a crisis became a nightmare. I have never seen such an unpleasant connection between politics and sports for years. The rhetoric in the press was as nationalistic and xenophibic as it has not been for years.
    We were not playing – we were fighting ersatz political battles. It was not the German team that was defeated, it was Angela Merkel and Germany. If you don’t believe it, it is enough to read the newspapers (in Germany, Italy and Greece) in the past weeks.
    If football does not go back to being what it is – a great game – then WE have to make that happen!

    • massimogiovanardi ha detto:

      Thank you for your comment, Ares. I am very disappointed by the media coverage that Italian press dedicated to Euro 2012 and the Italy-Germany match – I feel ashamed.
      It is difficult (sometimes impossible) to keep sport and politics separate. Sport as a collective emotion and the sentiments surrounding it are not necessarily neutral in respect of politics. Nobody could deny that in 1948 the stunning victory of the Italian cyclist Gino Bartali at the Tour de France helped in some way to calm down the political situation after the bomb attack happened to communist leader Palmiro Togliatti. Bartali’s victory helped people to perceive themselves as a whole. This generated a sort of ‘good’ civic pride.
      The problem is when xenophobia and nationalism emerge. In the case of Euro 2012, people are looking for answers that politics are now unable to provide. It is a failure of politics. The newspapers are taking advantage of the situation to sell more copies. We have now one match left. I hope that Olimpic spirit, which is going to sweep the world, won’t be just a palliative.

      • Ares ha detto:

        I totally share your views. I am preparing a blog entry in the next days on the subject.

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