If you are currently racking your brain for memories of distant relatives from Turkey, or Sweden or France or any other country actually still in the Euro 2008 championships, you can stop! The World Development Movement has created a handy website to aid your, probably highly arbitrary, choice of which team to support in each match.
www.whoshouldicheerfor.com ranks each team using criteria such as: spending on the military and healthcare; corruption; contribution to climate change; and income inequality. Overall Sweden ranks as the most ‘ethical’ team in the competition, and Russia comes in last.
The first match on Saturday is between the Czech Republic and Switzerland and there are number of ethical areas that you could use to determine where your allegiances might lie. If you have a soft spot for the underdog, you could go for the country whose population earns the least - the average person in the Czech Republic earns on average £8000 less than someone in Switzerland. But if you care about climate change you might place your support with the most climate friendly country. Here Switzerland wins hands down, with each person emitting almost half the amount of carbon as the average Czech person. And Switzerland also generates over half its electricity from renewable energy, whilst the Czech Republic only manages four per cent.
Worryingly had any of the UK teams, through some miracle, managed to qualify in the championship, ethically they would have ranked second to last. The UK is one of the richest countries in Europe but scores poorly in many areas: spending the most on the military in Western Europe; but only a meagre 0.36 per cent of GDP on aid; the UK also fails dismally on the percentage of electricity sourced from renewable energy - only Poland fares worse. And finally, the UK is one of the most unequal countries in Europe with the richest ten per cent of the population earning more than the poorest 14 per cent.
Clearly the comparisons are subject to caveats, but the trends are clear and powerful, not only for determining which football team you should support, but also for examining weighty, and otherwise rather dry issues in a more painless way – until your chosen team loses.