In 2016, Europe’s biggest international football tournament is scheduled to hit France. Bigger and better than ever before, it's exploded from 16 teams to 24, with five debutants being thrown into the mix for good measure.
That got the team at Banana Moon thinking… what would it have been like if the Euros started out not 56 years ago, but 200? If Europe has changed so drastically since then, what could be said for a potential soccer tournament in 1816?
Picture the scene: France lies in tatters after defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. To restore order, the leaders of Europe’s key nations have gotten together to redraw Europe in the Congress of Vienna, restoring old powers and creating all-new nations.
To celebrate their success in fixing the continent, they host a friendly association football gathering and invite the new-look Europe's major squads. But who would battle it out, and how would they look on the field?
Six squads are chosen: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, German Confederation, Papal States, Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, Kingdom of Two Sicilies, and Kingdom of Spain.
As with 1816, we couldn't possibly pick a winner – even though we'd put our shillings and sixpence on the UK. Using our bespoke clothing expertise, however, our designers were put to work to envision their shirts based on their flags, national colours and historical placement…
As with its successive tournament hosted in two centuries' time, France is chosen to host (but not participate), as a final penance for its sins; this time, they will accommodate those who they forced themselves upon, being unwelcome houseguests over the previous two decades.
As it’s the first football tournament of its kind, the actual format of it is a mess from the start. With only six teams qualifying, there’s no way to host a straight knockout; as the main champions of the European theatre of war (and as the biggest countries in the continent), the United Kingdom and German Confederation graciously accept a first-round bye as the three Italian squads and Spain duke it out.
Who would be your champion of 1816? Who would be the champion 200 years in the future? Let us know your thoughts…