For some reason, I am not feeling quite so excited about the Euros this year. Normally, it is an event that I anticipate with great eagerness but, this time around, I have been so apathetic that I have even managed to double-book myself so that I am likely to miss watching England’s first match against Croatia.
I think one reason for this apathy on my part is down to the fact that Euro 2020 is being spread over a range of different countries and not, as is usually the case, being hosted by one single nation. There are matches in Germany; in Italy; in Russia; in Holland; in Romania; in Spain; in Denmark; in Hungary; in Ireland; in Azerbaijan; and, of course, in the UK, including the semi-finals and the final being held at Wembley.
It all feels too dispersed; too messy. Normally, these kind of huge sporting events are an occasion for the host nation to be showcased in some fashion; to welcome the world to its doors; to enjoy its quirks and eccentricities and customs; to make the fans who remain at home armchair travellers. However, somehow, this is denied this time. Attempting to please all, results in actually pleasing none.
And, being a host nation evokes feels of patriotism and pride; often the host team performs better that would otherwise be expected; there is a desperation to prolong home participation in the competition and, a greater sense of achievement if the cup is won on home soil.
Even with the UK hosting the largest number of matches, I am just not getting that same kind of enthusiasm that I felt at Euro 96.
I am experiencing the same kind of pre-tournament ennui that I felt before – and during – the World Cup in 2002. Then the competition was spread across two nations in Japan and Korea, but I still found the sense of a lack of focus on one place unsettling and, in my opinion, it was one of the duller competitions in memory.
Of course, I know that it will be different as soon as the competition actually gets under way; then I will be stoked as much as anyone. Until then, though, I’ll keep feeling nostalgic for that glorious summer of ’96.
© Donnie Blake
Donnie Blake is simply suffering from a touch of pre-tournament nerves.