Ukraine Aim for the Euro-Double


As a child, the F.A. Cup was by far the biggest match of the season, but times have changed. The UEFA Champions League has stolen much of its thunder, making Cup Final day far from the English equivalent of the Superbowl it used to be.

Barely minutes after the trophy presentation at Wembley this year, British eyes switched to the annual Eurovision Song Contest, which attracted a bigger domestic T.V. audience than the football. (9 million v 7.6 million viewers).

Across the continent, in 2021 183 million European viewers watched the Eurovision final last year v the 328 million who watched the UEFA European Championship final, making it the continent's second-biggest collective viewing experience. Like the Euros, Eurovision is a continent-wide international competition with mass appeal.

Ukraine Aim for the Euro-Double.
Ukraine win Eurovision 2022

In 2022 the UK came second in Eurovision, as England did at Euro 2020. The pain of not winning Eurovision since 1997 is not as acute as that generated by England's quest to win the World Cup again (56 years of hurt and counting) but there is a parallel in injured pride because the locals consider their pop music, like their football, the original and best and a cut above the rest of Europe's, despite the ample evidence to the contrary.

Another similarity between Eurovision and the European Championship is the participation of Israel and the concomitant refusal of six Arab nations who are eligible to join them. Remarkably, China and Qatar have asked to join Eurovision and faraway Australia persuaded Europe to let them in 2015, in a similar way their football association muscled their way into the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.

Despite the U.K. winning the 40-nation Eurovision jury vote, it lost the 25-nation public vote to a landslide for Ukraine, a tsunami of trans-European sympathy. Last year Italy won Euro 2020 and the Eurovision Song Contest in a double summer of Euro love so could something similar happen to Ukraine in 2022?

A tragic event and the mass outpouring of sympathy it engenders can give sides 'an extra man' on the field.

Euro 2020.
Italy won Euro 2020 & Eurovison 2021

The Ukrainian national team are still in the race for the World Cup and face Scotland on the 1st of June in Glasgow before a possible showdown with Wales for a final place in Qatar. 

Former Anfield and Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish, who cheered Liverpool's F.A. Cup win at Wembley earlier in the season, has already suggested his country should exit stage left in sympathy with their rivals. 

The game is going ahead but can the Scots or Welsh realistically stop a team riding such a wave of emotion from making it to the finals?

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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