Brazil are the overwhelming favourites to win the 2006 World Cup, a recent Synovate survey has found. And it’s no surprise that Brazilian star Ronaldinho is tipped to be named the tournament’s best player. The Synovate study also found that a significant number of women tuned in to the games so they can enjoy watching the men in shorts!
Synovate surveyed 7,835 respondents in Germany, France, the UK, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, Japan, Korea and Australia – all countries that have qualified for this year's finals in Germany.
Brazil were seen as favourites by 42 per cent of those surveyed, with hosts Germany a distant second at 10 per cent, followed by Argentina, England, France and Sweden. Partisanship was evident in some countries, as respondents in Brazil, Argentina, France and the UK saw their own teams as favourites. Interestingly, however, Germans were more likely to see Brazil as lifting the trophy than their own team by a margin of almost two to one.
That finding does not surprise Harald Hasselmann, Managing Director of Synovate Germany. “Very often Germans do not see their team as favourites before the start of a World Cup. But many of them still hope that the German team will do better than expected – as happened in the last World Cup, when Germany reached the final.”
Almost half the respondents predicted that Ronaldinho would win the Golden Ball, awarded to the competition's best player. Other contenders trailed far behind: France's Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry polled 4 per cent each, with the former favoured by 20 per cent of that country's fans.
Meanwhile, a slightly higher proportion of UK fans compared to their French counterparts gave the nod to Henry, who plays for English side Arsenal. Next with 3 per cent came Argentina's Lionel Messi and England's Wayne Rooney, both of whom, ironically, are struggling to make it to the competition due to injury.
Synovate also asked fans to pick a description that best matched their national team. Brazilians saw their side as "exciting" – a characteristic that the Japanese, Koreans and Argentines also attributed to their teams.
A majority of respondents – 58 per cent – said that they did not normally follow football, but made an exception for the World Cup. And almost one-third of women surveyed admitted that they just like watching the men in shorts, with Brazilian women topping the list at 62 per cent, followed by 44 per cent of Serbs and 42 per cent of Czechs. At the other end of the scale, only 4 per cent of Japanese and 9 per cent of Korean women acknowledged such base motives for viewing World Cup matches.
Some people also plan to take advantage of the World Cup as an excuse to avoid household chores, with several nationalities vying for top post among shirkers – the Serbs at 43 per cent, the British at 41 per cent, Brazilians at 40 per cent, Czechs at 39 per cent and Argentines at 37 per cent. Japanese and Swedish respondents were the most dutiful, with only 10 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, planning to use football as a pretext for avoiding life's mundane realities.
Finally, the World Cup poses a dilemma for some football fans: Whether to go to work and miss matches on TV. For around a quarter of Serb and Korean respondents, it's not much of a conundrum: They would call in sick to work in order to watch matches during working hours.
Kurt Thompson, Managing Director of Synovate Korea, says that football's increasing popularity, following the national team's strong performance at the 2002 World Cup, could create a clash with the country's traditional strong work ethic: "As some of the games will be played during the middle of the night in Asia, I think that there will be a sudden wave of sickness in Korea!"