As the person who knows (and cares) the least about football in the Student Hut office, we thought it might be amusing if I wrote a guide on how to bluff your way through conversations about Euro 2016 - something I will definitely have to do over the next few weeks. Let’s join together in cluelessness and explore all the different ways we can pretend to know what we’re talking about. We’ll start with a basic guide to the competition, and then move on to different scenarios you might find yourself and how to bluff your way out of them.
Your Basic Guide to Euro 2016:
Euro 2016 (officially The 2016 Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) European Championship) is a football competition that takes place every four years.
This year, it’s in France, and will be happening from June 10 to July 10.
24 teams of 11 men are going to play football against each other. This is the first time that 24 teams (rather than the usual 16) are going to play.
The teams all represent different european countries, and are organised into 6 groups of 4 teams, with each group identified by the letters A - F.
The teams play against the other teams in their group first in the group stages which end on June 22nd. A football game lasts 90 minutes, with a 15 minute half-time interval.
The winners from the group stages with the most points will go on to play against the 3rd place and runner-up teams from other groups - if a team comes 4th in the group stages, they’re out. There are 8 matches which will determine who gets into the quarter-finals in this stage, which will take place between June 25th and 27th.
We then move on to the quarter-finals. There are 4 matches in the quarter-finals where the winners of the 8 matches will play against each other. These will take place from June 30 to July 3rd.
The semi-finals will be held on the 6th and 7th of July - there will be 2 matches, seeing the winners from the quarter-finals go head to head.
The last match of the championship will decide the winners on July 10th.
Someone mentions EURO 2016 while looking in your direction / Someone asks who you are supporting:
Smile and enthusiastically mention a European country that you are backing - but make sure to check that they are still in the competition (if it’s past June 22nd) or aren’t frowned upon (e.g. Russia, whose unruly fans are jeopardising their place in the competition.)
Suggestions of teams to support - Wales (because England are now out LOL), Iceland (first time qualifiers who appear to be a bit of a dark horse and kicked England out), Spain (three time winners and two time defending champions - safe bet), or France (third time hosts and two time winners).
“I feel like it might be their year this year!!” Best case scenario - you’re right and people agree with you. Worst case scenario - you’re very wrong and people push for more details as to why exactly you think this, or find you amusing and think you’re making a joke. In the case of the former, say something like “I just feel it in my gut.” / “I think the team is fairly decent!” / “I think 2016 will be the year of the underdog.”
Sentences to memorise: (Use with caution to avoid extending the conversation for longer than you can bluff)
“SPAIN - can they do it again this year?” OR “SPAIN - Fabregas is a bit of a trouble making sneaky little pizza thrower, but you have to admit the team is strong. They might win again…”
“Iceland! Who woulda thought?!”
“I think it would be nice for France to win, seeing as they are the hosts and all…”
"Typical England" (can be used in both good and bad scenarios quite safely)
Someone asks you if you watched a recent match (and you didn’t) or what you thought of a recent game:
Tell the truth and say you didn’t watch the game, but make it sound like you’re really gutted that you missed it. (e.g. “AGHHH no I missed it!!”)
If possible, give an excuse (e.g. “No, I was at work!” or “Nah, it was on at a bit of a random time wasn’t it” or "No I was out with friends who don't like football *roll eyes*") but be careful about being too specific. Follow up with a question like “How was it?” or “Was it worth watching?”
Gauge the tone of the person you are speaking to - do they sound excited? Bored? Mirror their mood and you will appear to be in the know.
Straight up lie* and say you did, but then deflect immediately and ask them what they thought of it. You can then mirror their reaction.
If you’re feeling brave, declare something like “WHAT A GREAT GAME THAT WAS!” or “Yeah, absolutely shocking result…” - this approach could backfire terribly, but could also make you seem like you really know what you’re talking about if you happen to be right.
*not recommended - lying is naughty.
You happen to find yourself in a pub that is showing football:
Stay calm and order a beverage - something in a pint glass will help you look and feel like you belong.
If you are not supporting any particular team, find out who those around you are supporting and what colour the team is wearing, and support them too.
Glance over at the screen every once in awhile so you appear to be interested.
If the people around you start shouting or suddenly quiet down, follow suit and look at the screen.
If it looks as though someone is close to scoring, say something like “Come on my son!” and lean forward in anticipation - but make sure you’re following the correct team!
If something happens and you’re not quite sure what it is, avoid asking questions and stick to mirroring the reactions of the people around you. (Asking questions may reveal that you don’t actually know what’s going on.)
In the event that the team win, be prepared to dance around and express happiness and contentment. The excitement of others can be very contagious in this situation. Be careful of expressing too much happiness if there are fans of the losing team around - they may become aggressive and beat you.
In the event that the team lose, gauge how the people around you are reacting - do they feel as though it was a deserved victory for the opponents? Was the referee incompetent? Mirroring and imitation is key. Make a sad face and suggest more drinks (to drown sorrows.)