Many of the Scandinavian Ambassadors in Southeast Asia hope that Denmark, as the only Scandinavian team in the tournament, will win the gold trophy in the FIFA World Cup 2010. But don’t believe it – they believe Spain, possibly Brazil, or maybe England – or Italy, will do so. Maybe. The rest don’t know anything about football and basically don’t care. That is at least the general picture in a survey among the Scandinavian embassies in Southeast Asia made by ScandAsia Friday 11th.
The only Scandinavian Ambassador who’s country is actually present in South Africa, is Danish Ambassador Michael Sternberg. He strongly hopes that the red and white team will end up in the semifinals and maybe even win it all in South Africa, but he admits that the chances are better for Spain:
“I think the winner will maybe be Spain, but that’s okay as long as we keep it in the EU,” he says.
But football is not for everyone. Norwegian Ambassador Merete Fjeld Brattested says she is absolutely not interested in football:
“I never watch football. I find it simply the most boring game to watch,” she says and continues: “I enjoy to watch skiing, but football? Never! I also find the wages that football players are paid way too high!”
At the Swedish Embassy the acting Ambassador Mr. Laakso knows what to say but also were he would put his money:
“I should probably say Denmark. Yes, Denmark. I wish they would win, but if I have to be boring and serious, and if I were a betting man, I would probably say Brazil, even that my favourite team is England,” he says.
Predictions from Singapore
The Danish representative in ScandAsia’s survey Benjamin Henriksen, who is Trade Counsellor at the Danish Embassy, believes that Denmark will end up as one of the last sixteen. But he predicts that the Spanish team will take home the gold. On Monday, Benjamin Henriksen will join at least 100 Danes cheering their team at a pub in Singapore. But he will not be one of them because he supports the Danish opponents on Monday – the Dutch team.
The Swedish consul in Singapore is not interested in football in any way:
“I have no clue who’s going to win the World Cup, I have no interest in football. If you can wait until Monday, you should call Daniel here at the office. He isn’t in right now,” she says laughing.
Views from Malaysia
In Kuala Lumpur Jesper Højer, Commercial Advisor at the Danish Embassy, doesn’t give the Danish team big chances even tough he supports them, he expects the Brazilians to win the World Cup this year.
“I really don’t know much about who are playing. But of course I support Denmark but it isn’t anything you want to say out loud,” he says noting that he doesn’t think the Danes will get any further than the preliminary rounds.
The Norwegian Ambassador Arild Braastad says that with Norway not playing in the World Cup this year, he will probably watch the matches with less interest:
“But when it comes to the quarter finals, the semifinals and the final, I might sporadically be watching some of them,” he adds.
“As for the wining team, I would cast my vote for for a European team – I would say Italy,” Arild Braastad says.
Tapio Saarela, the Finnish Ambassador, thinks Argentina will win, but favours the Danish team.
“I support Denmark because they are a Scandinavian country,” Tapio Saarela says and continues: ”But I think Argentina will win the FIFA World Cup this year.”
Patriotism and ignorance in Indonesia
Lars Eskild Jensen, Commercial Counsellor at the Danish Embassy in Jakarta finds the question about the World Cup difficult to answer for people working at an Embassy:
“Uh, it is some difficult questions you ask. You know if I give you the wrong answers I could be accused of being unpatriotic. And that we can’t be at the Embassy,” he says laughing.
Eventually he admits that he believes Spain will bring home the gold but underlines the importance of supporting the Danish team:
“When they are there we need to support them and if everything goes well maybe we could end up in the quarter-finals,“ says Lars Eskild Jensen.
On Monday Lars Eskild Jensen will watch the Denmark and Netherlands game at the Danish Embassy together with the rest of the staff, even they were invited to join a Dutch football party:
“We were invited to join the Dutch Embassy’s event, but we really don’t wanted to be together with 200 Dutchmen should we lose. But of course it would be different if we won,” he says.
The Finnish Ambassador Antti Koistinen is not interested in soccer – at least according to his secretary:
“He is not interested in football and he doesn’t know who is the final football team in World Cup this year,” the secretary told us.
The Swedish Commercial Counsellor adds to that: “I am really not the right person to talk to about this. I know nothing about football. I don’t have clue,” she says.
Football talk in China
Alexander Schultz, who is Commercial Counsellor at the Danish Embassy thinks that Denmark or England will win the World Cup 2010. He favours the same teams:
“Besides Denmark, my favourite must be England, because of their style. They are always playing very offensive. And because they have Steven Gerrard on the team,” he says.
He also says that all Danes can meet at the Den at Gongxilu, which during World Cup is renamed The Denmark.
The Swedish Ambassador to China Mikael Lindström has several proposals for the winning team:
“There are a number of obvious favorites: Brazil, Spain, Argentina, and many think it’s time for England. But we shouldn’t forget Germany, always a strong team, and Italy – the holders of the Cup. The US is also fielding a strong team, and Holland and Portugal can very well be contenders. So there are many options,” he says.
The Swedish Ambassador is also very into which teams he support:
“Since Sweden didn’t qualify this time around we will give support to our Scandinavian neighbour Denmark – the team that actually stopped us from qualifying. But we also have two teams participating that are coached by Swedes – Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. So they will also get my support.”
From Norway the Commissioner general for the EXPO Arild Blixrud, is a strong supporter of the English team. And he advices Norwegians in Shanghai to go to O’Malleys, Bulldog or The Blue Frog to cheer for their favourite team.
Richard Järvinen, Chairman of the Finnish Business Council and Chamber of Commerce are not that much into football:
“I don’t know who to support, because I do not follow it that much. If I had to take a guess, I would just say the same, who won last year…. but I don’t know who that was,” he adds.
But he is certain that he would recommend the Finns go to a Finnish restaurant called Take 5 to watch the World Cup matches, should they be a bit more interested than himself.
And from the Philippines
In Manilla, Norwegian Ambassador Knut Solem has two clear favourite teams:
“Netherland and Brazil!”
But when it comes to the likely winner, he is not in doubt:
“Brazil for sure,” he says without hesitation.
However the whole affair has very little attention in the Philippines:
“In the Philippines, it will hardly be noticed in the papers who eventually wins. Here, Basket Ball is the ting. If it’s the Boston Celtics or the Chicago Bulls that wins a game, that’s what counts,” says Knut Solem.
Norwegian words from Vietnam
In Vietnam the Norwegian Ambassador, Ståle Torstein Risa, is looking forward to watching as many matches as he can:
“I have a very busy week ahead of me, but I really hope to find time to watch some of the games at home,” he says.
When it comes to his favourite team and his personal bet for the winning team, he goes for Spain.
“I like teams that play high quality football, and so I am favourably inclined towards the Spanish team this year,” Ståle Torstein Risa says.
Then he adds: “But of course I have a heart for the fellow Scandinavian team from Denmark, but I am afraid they will not get that far.”