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29 May 2014

Survey shows Brits are pessimistic about England’s World Cup chances

Just one in 10 Britons think England can win the World Cup according to figures from a European-wide survey released this week.

The figures place the Brits as Europe’s most pessimistic nation by a large margin. Only 11% of the country believe England will ‘certainly’ or ‘probably’ win, compared to 58% of Spaniards, 47% of Italians and 45% Germans who believe their national teams could clinch the World Cup crown. 

The survey questioned more than 7,000 people from nine European countries and was commissioned as part of the FREE Project (Football Research in an Enlarged Europe) - a three-year academic study focussing on football and European identity.

The survey also revealed:

  • 18% of Brits don’t expect England to progress past the group stages;
  • 25% think they will lose in the round of 16 knock-outs;
  • 34% think they will leave the competition in the quarter finals

These latest findings support Government predictions earlier this month that England won’t reach the semi-finals.

However, in spite of its pessimism, the survey did show Britain’s big appetite for World Cup football, with 66% of those questioned saying they would follow the competition.

Whilst Britons do not trust the Three Lions to perform well in Brazil, their favourite teams to win the competition are hosts Brazil (39%), Germany (17%) and current holders and European champions Spain (16%).

The FREE project brings together researchers at nine European universities, including Loughborough University in England.

Talking about the findings, Loughborough University project lead Dr Borja Garcia said: 

“The public’s low expectation surrounding England’s performance isn’t surprising given the team’s previous results. Interestingly, their pessimism is shared by other European countries, with only 2% thinking England could win the World Cup.

“However, the study does show us the national team is a source of pride and passion for the English, and the World Cup is an important event in the national sporting calendar.”

Europeans and the World Cup 

Infographic: Can England win the World Cup?

Download the full infographic

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 14/100

(1)  Results are from the FREE Project (Football Research in an Enlarged Europe) Survey on Football in the European Public Opinion.

FREE is an innovative, three-year academic project focusing on football and European identity. It has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 290805.

This survey was conducted by JRA Research in the United Kingdom and coordinated by Céline Bracq at BVA France. It was co-funded by ESSCA School of Management (France), with collaboration from Loughborough University (UK) and others in the FREE network (

The survey has a confidence of 95% and is statistically representative of the entire population of the nine European countries polled.

Countries surveyed were Austria, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

View further survey results online.

(2)  Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year title in 2008-09 and has been named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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Amanda Overend
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Loughborough University
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