How are people searching for Euro 2020?
The 16th instalment of the UEFA European Championship, ubiquitously and informally referred to as the ‘Euros’, is taking place across the European continent this summer, and under rather unusual circumstances.
To start, Euro 2020 is actually being held in 2021, despite officially retaining the title of ‘Euro 2020’ — a direct result of the global pandemic, which put a halt to all football competitions last summer. Whilst this might be the case, the majority of people are in fact referring to the tournament as ‘Euro 2021’ in their searches. ‘Euro 2021’ boasted almost double the search volume of ‘Euro 2020’ in May this year — an interesting figure when considering UEFA’s official title.
Its delay, combined with the welcome return of fans to stadiums (albeit in limited capacity), has only increased anticipation and fervour surrounding the tournament. This has presented several fascinating insights on search trends in the UK, particularly around squads.
As expected, ‘England’s Euro 2021’ squad returned the highest search volume, as fans across the country waited impatiently to see if their favorite players would make the cut. ‘France’s Euro 2021 squad’ was second, with almost a fifth of the search volume of England’s. The French have a very strong chance of winning the competition, which might explain such high interest. Spain and Germany were next in line, who are both also strong contenders, followed by Wales.
COVID’s impact and the difference in hosting the competition across several locations.
Another of these unusual circumstances is that the competition is being held across 11 UEFA nations, as opposed to just one — a massive bonus for fans wanting to attend games, as COVID restrictions continue to dictate who can travel where. London’s iconic Wembley stadium, which holds the highest capacity of any of the host nations, is staging a number of games, including the semis and the final itself. This has resulted in a surge of interest for tickets, with many English fans jumping at the opportunity of not having to travel, while strict COVID guidelines make it difficult for even Scottish and Welsh fans to go to Wembley.
But Euro 2020 will not be without disruption. Players are continuing to be tested en masse, with strict protocols in place and the likelihood of games being delayed by 48hrs in the event of an outbreak. A number of players have already contracted COVID, faced quarantine, and been forced to sit out of games. Spain, for example, lost legendary midfielder Sergio Busquets for the first two games of the group stage — they drew both. Prior to the tournament starting, UEFA actually increased squad sizes from 23 players to 26, in anticipation of such incidents.
This May, over 119k people searched for Euro 2020 ticket-related information, demonstrating the huge interest in attending games, and indicating that Wembley is likely to reach its 25% stadium capacity limit (equal to 22,500 seats).
The most searched-for game in the UK so far has been England vs. Scotland, a match that ended in a 0-0 draw — a dour result considering the famous rivalry. Other matches searched proactively include England vs. Croatia, Italy vs. Wales, and Hungary vs. England (the latter, interestingly, a World Cup qualification match taking place in September).
Predictions and Betting
With the Euros this summer comes the plethora of predictions and bets, as fans across the continent discuss who they think will win, perform best, or win the golden boot (the top scorer). Many people, including fans, pundits and journalists, are predicting that the trophy will go to either France or England — Many football experts at the Independent are predicting that France is the team to beat, while Squawka sees England as a fan favourite that has the potential to win with their home advantage and the possibility to finally “bring it home”.
Alongside such predictions, many friend groups are taking part in fantasy football competitions, a popular hobby in the UK. Sky Sports, The Telegraph and the BBC are popular, go-to fantasy football content sites, while common search topics include FPL price changes, fantasy tips, team names, and fixture difficulty.
We compiled a list of players from the tournament’s 24 teams to analyze these search trends. The different results can be attributed to a number of factors: COVID results, injuries, and performances — to name a few. Global superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, topped the search demand list in May. French goalkeeper Mike Maignan, on the other hand, recorded the highest search increase from April to May (a lesser known name prior to Euro 2020 capturing the interest of fans).
Who’s providing the answers to what fans are most interested in, in the UK?
It’s interesting to look at which domains generate the most interest and are most informative for fans. Youtube.com, for example, clearly serves as a key source of information, as people continue to hold a vested interest in video content. uefa.com, perhaps as the most accurate and up-to-date site on the tournament and COVID, also ranks high.
ebay.co.uk and panini.co.uk also rank well, which can be partly explained by the significant level of interest in Euro 2020 Panini stickers. In fact, research shows that over 23.5k people are interested in collecting stickers for the Euros this year, with the Sticker Book (5,360 MSV in May) and Sticker Album (4,550 MSV in May) generating the highest search volumes.
What do people still care about when looking back on Euro 2016?
Although Euro 2016 might have taken place some five years ago, it still garners a lot of interest in searches, with several recurring topics and search trends. People — likely fans keen to refresh their memories — have been searching to see past results, winners, losers, squads, groups, and specific matches. Wales’ campaign in 2016, for example, has generated significant interest, perhaps because the team performed so well and progressed to the latter stages of the tournament, despite being a low-ranked team. The 2016 England vs. Wales match (which England eventually won) has been searched for 3,600 times. It could be argued many fans are hoping for a repeat fixture this year.
So, is football really ‘coming home’?
‘Football’s coming home’ is a sound that will be ringing through pubs, bars, homes, and just about everything in-between in the UK this summer. The phrase is taken from the song ‘Three Lions’ — released in 1996 by Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds, and serves as an anthem for English fans across the country. Search volume for the phrase reached as high as 301k during the World Cup in 2018, and is slowly starting to gain search interest again this summer (with 2.5k MSV in May).
Whether or not football really ‘comes home’ for English fans this summer, their interest in the sport so many love cannot be denied.
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