Italian disaster and Swedish delight over World Cup qualification

Sweden knocking out four-time world champions Italy from the World Cup after a 1-0 aggregate win means Italy miss out on the World Cup for the first time since the Swedes hosted the tournament in 1958 and finished as runners-up.

Sweden’s players expressed their joy in unconventional fashion as the final whistle blew and Jan Andersson’s side secured a place at next year’s World Cup finals in Russia, a win that could also have wider economic repercussions according to historical surveys:

The joy of the players was expressed by Sweden’s 32 year old captain Andreas Granqvist who told Reuters, “For my part, this is the biggest thing that has happened to me and for those of us that are older this is probably the last chance to play at a World Cup so to succeed in those circumstances is an unbelievable joy.”

The Italian national mood was summed up in headlines including, “The End,” “the Apocalype” and “A national shame” with Gazzetta dello Sport editor Andrea Monti  saying, “It’s one of the darkest pages of our sporting history. A brutal slap beyond the incalculable harm for a country that lives and breathes soccer.”

Unsurprisingly, Italian coach Gianpiero Ventura has already been sacked, with the Gazetta describing his legacy in less than flattering terms: “He will go down as one of the worst national team coaches of all time, if not the worst.” the report read bluntly.

On the economic front, former Italian soccer federation president Franco Carraro is quoted by Associated Press as estimating that the failed qualification will cost the country between 500 million and 600 million euros (up to $700 million), adding that “If you add the indirect impact, it will definitely exceed a billion.”

Research by Lloyds TSB published provides statistical support for the effect of World Cup success on the wider economy, with Sweden’s economy likely to benefit from a feel-good factor, particularly if they reach the semi-finals in Russia.

Examples include:

Brazil, beaten finalists in 1998 saw consumer spending rise by 8.5% – almost three times the growth rate pre-World Cup (3.3%) – in post-World Cup year.

West Germany saw consumer spending growth almost treble in the year after their victory in 1990 (1.3% to 3.6%).

In years 1990 – 2006, consumer spending grew by an average of 5.3% among semi-finalists in the year following a World Cup; an improvement of 1.1 percentage points on the average rise in the year leading up to the World Cup (4.2%)

Swedish business figures were also celebrating, with a Mobilcasino spokesperson saying, “We are pleased to note that consumer spending can be expected to rise on World Cup success. However, as a Swedish company, of course, business concerns are of minor concern as we wish the Swedish national team success in Russia 2018.”

Sadly, the one counter-example cited by Lloyds TSB to the general rule that World Cup success translated into increased consumer spending, relates to England – whose consumer spending increase  fell from 2.5% to just 0.3% in the year following  Italia ’90 as the UK economy entered recession.

Italian disaster and Swedish delight over World Cup qualification

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