The Euro ‘21 Tournament Is Over, But a Question Remains

Αssociated Press

Italian players celebrate after the Euro 2020 soccer final match between England and Italy at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, July 11, 2021. (Laurence Griffiths/Pool via AP)

Watching good soccer is undoubtedly one of the pleasures of life - like the game we saw this weekend for the European Championship.

Of course, it was not possible for me to watch the matches during the workday – I watched the recorded matches at night.

On Sunday, however, I watched the final between England and Italy ‘live’ - how could one miss it?

Did you notice with what pride, with what patriotism both groups sang their national anthem? And they say that nationalism ... is dead.

The players themselves were artful and energetic while the fans flooded the stands with excitement and anguish - even in this era of the COVID-19 Delta variant.  

Both goalkeepers were heroes; unlucky or unprepared for such a historic moment were the players who missed the opportunity to score in the penalty shootout.

Neither the former nor the latter will ever forget this experience. But what happened, happened. It cannot be changed.

Logic says that the best teams win their games. And so it must be. Tournaments are won by the teams with the best-trained and talented players, and the ones who try the hardest.

But I would add that, as in most things in life, the factor of luck also plays an important role in who will emerge victorious.

Perhaps there is a deeper question that such matches can illuminate: to what extent does a national team’s fate reflect the general level of excellence and dedication of the country they represent?

And because soccer players are young adults, another question is whether they reflect the current level or the dynamics of future progress and development of the country from which they come.

England, for example, is currently better off economically than heavily-indebted Italy – but does Italy's victory indicate that the Italian people are building momentum that will make them superior to England one day? And if this is true, at least to some extent, then how do we interpret the fact that Northern Macedonia reached the Euro, but not Greece, which is much bigger and stronger?

I do not know if studies have been done on this subject, although it would be difficult to measure the different competing factors that would allow us to reach conclusions. Nevertheless, I find this question particularly interesting.