LONDON, May 19 2008 – As UEFA EURO 2008™ approaches, Europe’s traditional footballing nations are the favourites once again. But, if the most emotional fans were the deciding factor in who wins the tournament, the results of new independent research commissioned by Canon Europe, reveals that it wouldn’t be Germany, Italy or France lifting the trophy on June 29 – the honour would fall instead to outsiders Sweden.
The nation that produced ice-cool manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and top striker Henrik Larsson has the most passionate fans, according to Canon’s European league table of football fans’ emotions. The research results contributing to Sweden’s top position include: 88% of Swedish fans have hugged and kissed a stranger at a football match, and 95% also said that football is the only occasion when they let their emotions go free. At second place in the league table is Norway, followed by Belgium and Britain (see notes to editors below for full list).
French supporters, despite having tasted both World Cup and European Championship success during the last decade, are amongst the most reserved in Europe with just over half their fans (60%) admitting to grabbing and kissing a stranger when emotions are high – compared to the European average of 77%. Least likely to give you a kiss, though, are fans from Portugal (43%).
Peter Marsh, Co-Director of the Social Issues Research Centre, said: “This has been one of the most extensive pieces of research done on European football fans in recent years. It has highlighted the passions and emotions that are associated with the game and the positive role that being a true fan plays in the lives of millions of Europeans. While there are strong rivalries between fans at local and national levels, we have been struck by the degree to which football unites people from varied backgrounds across the whole of Europe, and undoubtedly beyond.”
Canon Europe, world-leader in imaging solutions and official sponsor of UEFA EURO 2008™, commissioned SIRC (the Social Issues Research Centre) to study the emotions and behaviour of football fans across Europe, observing fan behaviour at football matches in six countries and polling approximately 2,000 supporters across the continent.
James Leipnik, Chief of Communication and Corporate Relations, Canon Europe, said: “The SIRC research has discovered some interesting challenges to the accepted stereotypes of European football fans. While there are some very interesting national differences highlighted, the central premise is that fans across Europe have far more in common than often acknowledged. Despite our linguistic and cultural differences, we all speak one language, the language of football. As UEFA EURO 2008™ is set to begin in Austria and Switzerland, we will enable European fans to capture the emotions of football by taking and printing images that will keep their memories of the tournament alive.”
Portuguese, Belgian, German and British fans are amongst Europe’s most tearful supporters, with three-quarters acknowledging that they’ve cried during matches. Of all European fans, two-thirds (66%) have cried whilst watching a game. But passion and excitement for football is shared right across the continent – with the vast majority of fans of all countries admitting to regularly shouting and screaming in public (95%), and most (60%) even telling the researchers that they dream about the beautiful game.