New research into the commonalities among rival European football fans, has revealed that even the most dedicated English football supporters wouldn’t miss their next holiday, even if this meant seeing their biggest adversary win UEFA EURO 2020.
The research, commissioned by Booking.com, the official Accommodation and Attractions Booking Partner of UEFA EURO 2020, showed that after over a year of restrictions due to COVID-19, nearly two thirds of English supporters (61%) would rather see Germany, their main rivals, win the upcoming tournament, than skip their next holiday.
The majority of European football fans have already started thinking about where they might go on their next break, when COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted, with eight in ten (83%) supporters confirming that they plan to travel for leisure in the next year, as long as it’s safe to do so.
As Europe’s top 24 footballing countries gather for this unique UEFA EURO 2020, over half of England fans (53%) named Germany as their biggest rivals. Many European football fans (38%) also listed Germany as their main rival, followed by France (30%), Spain (22%) and England (21%).
While there’s always a high level of enthusiastic banter among European football supporters, Booking.com’s research found that two thirds of European fans (67%) say they are rivals on the pitch but friends off it, while eight in ten (85%) agree that football fans from all over the world have a lot in common. What’s more, over half of European supporters (51%) say it’s possible for football fans to get along with those who support a different team.
UEFA EURO 2020 kicks off this Friday (11 June) in Rome, and will see matches played in eleven European cities, with the final taking place at Wembley, England on Sunday 11 July. There will be fans in the stadium at every match, however due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, the majority of the reduced capacity crowds, for the group stages at least, will be made up of domestic supporters from host nations.
Usually travelling to see their team live is a priority for many fans, but Booking.com’s research revealed that supporters’ trips abroad are about much more than just who wins on the pitch. Nearly three quarters of European supporters (71%) say that watching in stadia alongside rival fans is the best part of live football, while three in five (60%) travel to matches to enjoy the atmosphere that they get from being alongside opposition supporters.
The majority of rival fans agree that they will miss opposition supporters from other countries this summer. More than eight out of ten English fans (84%) believe that visiting fans create a special atmosphere in the country or city they visit to attend a game.
English supporters top the list of fans whose absence will be most felt by their rivals. More than a tenth of European fans (12%) say they’ll miss supporters from England the most, followed by Germany, Spain and Italy. Over a third of European fans (40%) say the English football crowds have the best chants and they’re seen as the most fun (39%), while a quarter (24%) think they provide the best banter.
England will take on Croatia in their opening Group D match on Sunday 13 June at Wembley Stadium. Expectations among supporters will be high, with the side looking to claim their first major international football trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
Despite England being ranked as one of the top teams to beat, nearly nine in ten (89%) rival European football fans have something good to say about the country. More than a quarter (28%), like the energy fans bring to football games, the culture (27%) and the countryside (28%), while one in five think England is a great holiday destination (20%).
Croatian fans particularly love English culture (42%) and the energy they bring to football games (37%). Over a quarter of Croatian supporters (27%) would choose to come to England to watch a football game live in a stadium outside their country.
Most English fans (96%) have something good to say about Croatia and its people, while more than three quarters (79%) have positive feelings towards Croatian tourists who visit England.
With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, Booking.com will be helping football fans find the right place to stay in tournament host cities, where travel is allowed. However, as COVID-19 has made it impossible for the majority of fans to mix in person at matches this year, Booking.com will also be connecting rival supporters virtually, on social media, allowing them to interact, share goal celebrations, match rituals and commentary throughout the tournament via #RivalsReUnited.
Though most football fans will be watching the games from the comfort of their living rooms, or on a big screen at their local pub, restrictions permitting, many are already thinking about their next overseas trip. Two fifths of European fans (38%) say that their top reason for wanting to travel abroad, when restrictions end, is to relax and rejuvenate. A third (33%) want to discover new cultures, while a quarter (25%) want to go on an adventure and escape their routine.
France is the country most visited by European fans with nearly half of supporters (45%) having travelled there. Spain is the next most visited (43%), followed by Germany (41%) and England (37%).