What If Euro 2024 Was Fully Simulated Based on Forest Area?

England Crash Out to Germany in Forestland Euros Showdown

Fri 07 Jun 24


So it’s settled. Spain will win Euro 2024, with the three-time winners beating out two-time winners France in a new simulation by Timbersource – ranking the 24 countries based on forestland instead of football.

The simulation, updated live during the tournament, projects that Euro 2024 host and three-time winner Germany will knock out England in the Round of 16 – a replay of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – before being knocked out by Spain in a blockbuster Quarter Finals.

“The bracket and routes to the final were drawn from the official Uefa Euros bracket; we then cross-referenced this with the forestland data to find the eventual winner in Spain,” according to Timbersource, which used Worldometre data to trace forest sizes in every country across Europe.

“This year’s ‘group of death’ is Group D, which includes big hitters including France, Austria and Poland,” Timbersource said, who added that despite having the second largest forest area in Europe, France “only managed to get third place given the nature of the draw.”

As the winner of the inaugural EURO (back in 1960), Russia (then competing with the Soviet Union) is the elephant in the room, casting a giant shadow over the 2024 competition.

Russia’s isolation from international sport continues after UEFA confirmed the country would be excluded from qualification for Euro 2024. Footage courtesy of @skysportsnews.

In September 2022, Russia was banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions, thanks to the war in Ukraine – with the International Olympic Committee, Formula 1 and the International Tennis Federation among a raft of sporting organisations slapping the country with bans.

“Whilst Russia tops the list with over 800 million hectares but, due to the current situation in Ukraine, they have been banned from participation,” Timbersource said, with EU and UK sanctions imposed on Russian timber deferring trade to a “gang of eight” through Eurasia.

Under the current simulation, Ukraine—which boasts one of the largest forest areas in Europe—is poised to be knocked out by France in the quarterfinals. The French knocked out reigning champions and two-time winners Italy in the Semifinals on their way to the finals.

Led by the University of Copenhagen's Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, they calculated tree coverage with 92.4% accuracy in what amounts to the first capture of the total tree cover across Europe. (Photo Credit: Sciences Advances Journal)
Last year, researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management calculated total tree coverage across Europe. (Photo Credit: Sciences Advances Journal)

For what it’s worth, Spain, with 18.49 million hectares of forestland, beats out France (17.22 million hectares), with Turkey (11.92 million hectares) coming in third. More information, including the full data sets, is available on the Timbersource website.

The UEFA European Championships (popularly known as the Euros) is scheduled to kick off on June 14 and run for a month through until July 14. Behind the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games, it is the third-most watched sporting event in the world, with the 2016 final watched by a global audience of 600 million people.

According to data collected by Our World In Data, Europe has the world’s largest share of global forests—about 25% of the total forest cover—ahead of South America, which has 20%.

In addition to being the largest area by forest area, it is also the world’s third largest consumption market—behind China and the United States—and, through its signature policy, the EUDR, which will introduce the world’s strongest anti-deforestation regulations.


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