Football fans cheering again

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Norwegian football fans, and even many who aren’t particularly interested in football, are waving the flag again after their national team’s shocking victory over Portugal on Tuesday. Nearly a quarter of the population saw Norway win its second Euro 2012 qualifier in a row.

Nearly 25,000 cheering fans packed Ullevaal Stadium and TV2 picked up another 928,000 fans on its live broadcast.

A total of 24,535 fans packed Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo Tuesday evening, cheering on their team as the underdog Norwegians put on a great show for the hometown crowd. Another 928,000 followed the match as it was aired live by TV2, Norway’s nationwide commercial television channel.

That gave TV2 a hefty 55 percent market share, meaning that more than half of all Norwegians watching TV on Tuesday evening were tuned in to the landslagets (national team’s) match against Portugal.

That’s 300,000 more viewers than the Norwegian team attracted during the qualification round for the World Cup in 2008 and 2009, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday.

“Yes, it’s clear that interest in football (soccer) is back among the Norwegian people,” Bjørn Taalesen, sports chief for TV2, told NRK.no.

Friday’s Euro 2012 debut match, against Iceland in Reykjavik, was only shown on pay-television Canal+. The channel didn’t want to release viewer statistics, but NRK estimated not more than 50,000 watched the match.

Taalesen said he was glad “both for us and Norwegian football” that the landslag is doing so well at the start of the run-up to the European championships. Fans were delighted and spirits high after the match, with many praising head coach Egil “Drillo” Olsen along with players John Carew and Erik Huseklepp, who were both given credit for the winning goal that Huseklepp kicked in after Portugal’s goalkeeper made a serious error.

“The ‘Drillo effect’ is blossoming right now,” one 80-year-old fan who’s seen 40 national matches told NRK. “I’m certain that Drillo puts his arm around each player before each match, and gives them a concrete assignment.”

Drillo’s squad beat France in a friendly match last month, then beat Iceland on Friday and now Portugal, for the first time ever. The next national match will be against and on Cyprus on October 8.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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