European Championship Stories: 2008 – The End Of Politics

In Vienna in June of 2008, Fernando Torres broke free from his marker and shot the only goal in the final of that summers European Championships. It was a goal that ended almost half a century without a major tournament win for Spain, and it marked the calcification of new Iberian footballing hegemony within Europe which continues to reign supreme to this day. And by the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, this wasn’t the only tectonic shift that was taking place. European political and economic power was beginning its wane, and the seeds of what may come to be regarded as the new world order of the twenty-first century were being sewn. This was as true of football as it was in a wider political sense. The major international tournaments, which had over the previous three decades hit their commercial zenith before starting to take on the bloated look of the middle-aged, still had a clearly definable place in the football calendar but their pre-eminence was now being challenged by the annual circus of the UEFA Champions League, which by this time was beamed around the world to a steadily increasing audience. Club versus country had become more than a tug of love for a player’s affections at the time of one of FIFA’s increasingly frequently and erratically scheduled rounds of international matches. It was...

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