Euro 2012 Final: Houstonians Love Fútbol
According to UEFA predictions, approximately 250 million soccer fans tuned in to watch the Euro 2012 final match on Sunday evening. Compare that to the 111 million that watched this year's Super Bowl, and you get an idea as to the impact and significance of this event. The game pitted reigning champs Spain against the Azzurri of Italy. The Euro championship is held on even-numbered years between World Cup tournaments, and the winner qualifies to play in the FIFA Confederations Cup, which will be held next year in Brazil. Spain was already qualified after winning the 2010 World Cup, so Italy was given the pass to Brazil.
Photos by Marco Torres There's a reason why The Richmond Arms Pub was voted "Best Place To Watch Futbol" in Houston.
Spain was the heavy favorite entering the game, attempting to become the first team to win three straight major soccer tournaments. They were the top team in the FIFA world rankings, and came in with a roster full of superstars as Euro and World Cup champions. They beat France and Portugal in the knockout stages to reach the final. Italy was also in Group C with Spain, and won against England and Germany on their way to the final.
We headed over to the The Richmond Arms Pub (5920 Richmond Ave.), traditionally a great place to watch fútbol in Houston, to see the final and soak up the energy only soccer fans are able to transmit. We spoke to several fans and asked them to give predictions for the game and other soccer-related questions:
Name: Idris Olugbayo (right), 37.
Prediction For The Game: Italy wins 2-1; Balotelli scores the deciding goal.
Favorite Club Team: Manchester United (English Premier League).
When Did You Fall In Love With Fútbol?: I used to play as a kid back in Nigeria. My favorite player back then was Eric Cantona. Later on, they got Ronaldo and then Chicharito. Plus many ManU fans are hooligans. I'm a bit of a hooligan myself!
Name: Jolene Ulises (below), 36.
Prediction For The Game: España wins 2-1. Ikar Casillas outplays Gigi Buffon.
Favorite Club Team: It's really River Plate (Argentina), but I also love Real Madrid (Spain).
When Did You Fall In Love With Fútbol?: When I was living in Argentina, I married a local and fell in love with him and the sport. You cannot not love fútbol there, the people are so wild and passionate. It was an instant love. Plus I'm a Messi fan!
Jolene, on the right, just got home from a business trip to Spain with lots of new gear.
Name: Eric Subirats (above), 30.
Eric (center) reserves a section of the pub every game to watch with his family and friends.
Prediction For The Game: España wins 2-1 with excellent play from Iniesta and Jordi Alba.
Favorite Club Team: Barcelona!
When Did You Fall In Love With Fútbol?: When I was in my mother's belly. My dad used to play back in Spain, and we used to go to the stadium and watch him.
Name: Erick Lacovara (below), 33.
Prediction For The Game: Italy wins 2-1. Balotelli is a force for Italy. His ego can win or lose you the game, but Italy will upset Spain today.
Favorite Club Team: AC Milan
When Did You Fall In Love With Fútbol?: I'm from Venezuela, but my family has roots from Italy. Fútbol is in my blood. I loved playing as a little kid.
Name(s) (L-R): Dasha Ivanova, 22. Ksenia Kozakis, 21.
Erick and his friend were confident that Italy would prevail.
Prediction For The Game: España wins 3-1. Fernando Torres will score two goals.
Favorite Club Team: Chelsea (English Premier League), because a Russian named Roman Abramovich owns the team.
When Did You Fall In Love With Fútbol?: Russians watch a lot of fútbol. We love to play also. It's very exciting to see the pros score a goal. Plus there are very handsome players like (Spanish goalkeeper) Ikar Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal.