Football win is economic boost

Celebrations on the streets – and in big business - as French team defies the odds to qualify for Brazil World Cup

PIZZA delivery companies and TV manufacturers are joining football fans to celebrate France’s qualification for next year’s World Cup in Brazil – because fans order in many more pizzas during the matches and TV sales rose 7% for the last world cup.

After beating Ukraine 3-0 at the Stade de France last night, the Bleus bounced back from a shock 2-0 first round defeat in the World Cup qualifiers that had caused economic gloom across the country with many fearing non-qualification would augur tough times ahead.

The new-look side under manager Didier Deschamps managed to turn round fans’ expectations with two goals from Mamadou Sakho and one from Karim Benzema and streets were alive with honking horns and cheering crowds – doubly so, as Algeria also won through to the 2014 finals and many north-Africans were also out to celebrate.

After the game Deschamps saluted his players and refused to take any credit for himself, saying: “It’s a great moment, something fabulous.”

He got his own reward when the French Football Federation (FFF) extended his contract until 2016.

TV channel TF1 became one of the first companies to benefit – with its shares rising this morning – and economist Philippe Villemus told Midi Libre that “football is the mirror of society” and “confidence is one of the main motors of the economy”. When France is winning anything is possible at every level – with the example of Germany, where companies are drawn to a successful country.

He said that the financial consequences of losing would have seen a widespread slowdown in the €2.5billion industry around football – although the direct losses would have been around €500million, through the loss of TV sales, advertising, newspaper sales and associated products.

President Hollande, a keen football fan who goes to Marseille games but supports Nantes, watched the match from the stands and said afterwards: “That is a victory of a team that has battled from the first to the last minute, which believed in itself and which united. I feel for all the French people who are happy. It’s a win; we must savour it.”

He added: “People said of this team that they could never do it. They did it. They showed us the example. We need to go on. We need to believe.”

However, leading UMP MP Lionel Luca was not in the same mood; he tweeted after the match: “One off-side, one own goal, one player sent off – that’s how we save the FFF’s TV rights”.