FOXTROTS

 

 

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning. 

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

 

2008 June 17

Football. Loser is winner?

One apparently-serious study estimated there would be one million additional visitors in Switzerland this year, for the Euro-2008 (E8), a Europe-wide soccer competition. I think this is hugely wrong – by at least 500k visitors, if not 750k.

 

But it leads me to make a number of observations.

[] I have a semi-serious theory – which I’ve named Big Event Blues – suggesting that momentous international events actually reduce visitor arrival totals. Although these big events may attract international visitors, many ‘normal’ travellers (such as business travellers and even holidaymakers) will stay away from that destination just before, during, and just after the event. They assume that there will be too much disruption to normal movement in the destination. In general, they are right – not only is movement curtailed, but many prices are higher.

[] Based on above, how many ‘non-soccer visitors’ did not visit during this period? Switzerland counts around 8mn arrivals at hotels-and-similar in a year, which averages 22,000 daily, certainly more at this time of the year, the start of the peak summer season, so about 500,000 for the period of E8. We estimate 4% did not visit, so 20,000.

[] How many of those 20,000 would travel somewhere else this year rather than Switzerland (so a visitor lost to Switzerland), and how many merely postpone their trip until E8 is over? This has got to be a guess, but 10% of those, so 2000?

[] Note then, those 2000 would probably be a gain for other destinations. In other words, as a reward for not hosting E8, other destinations receive 2000 visitors.

[] Another factor is increased outbound travel by local residents. Understandably fearful of the damage soccer supporters usually do in host locations, as well as other general disruption, some residents might choose this time to leave town. Again then, that would be growth for other destinations for not hosting E8. I cannot reasonably think how many, but just to produce a figure for argument’s sake, 2000?

[] Plus, soccer competitions are risky ventures for host countries/cities – extra police, damage, violence, court cases, and so on. I have also added here the travel business element – they are not much good for that either.

 

Which begs the question, why do destinations bid to host this and similar (soccer) events? Surely the winners are the destinations that do not host the events?

[] Which all moves me to something outside my expertise – the soccer game itself. I have seen a few games, and I have some observations:

-The start of soccer ‘hooliganism’ starts on the pitch. In every match there is at least one case of apparently-unprovoked violence – elbow in the head, fist in the back, boot on the knee, and so on.

-It seems that every encounter (but let’s be generous and say 25%) is a foul to some degree – pushing, pulling, jostling. I do realise this is a game of encounters, but I am talking about one player trying to prevent the other player from doing his ‘job’, but in a foul manner.

-Again, it seems in most encounters, the skill required when you lose the ball to your opponent, is to fall on the ground clutching one part of your body, screaming, and asking for the referee to punish the ‘winner’ of the encounter. This is obviously better if you have been fouled (with above-mentioned elbow etc) as it adds legitimacy to your claim.

-I spend most of my time wondering whether it was really a foul, whether he is really hurt, rather than watching the game.

-Then the supporters (whose stamina to whistle nonstop during the 90 minutes of the game is impressive) go and do the same in the host town. Why are they called hooligans and the players are heroes?

-Yet these soccer games are so popular around the world. Why?

 

The Fox