Managers' picks to win World Cup

Whether it’s Argentina, Brazil or Spain, Romanian managers are counting down the hours before the long-awaited World Cup football tournament kicks off with host South Africa challenging Mexico. Romanian executives still remember the 1994 finals, while expatriates are placing their bets on the national teams of their home countries.

How are managers getting ready for the World Cup?

Sotirios Marinidis (photo), CEO of Procter & Gamble said he plans to watch all the World Cup matches, as much as his schedule allows him. Since P&G team in Romania is a truly cosmopolitan community, he decided that all matches in the tournament to be watched live from one of the rooms in the office.

Born in Greece, holding German citizenship, and overseeing group’s operations in Serbia, Marinidis says it is difficult to make a pick in a direct competition. “I hope that these football teams will get to the final stages of the tournament”, said Marinidis.

Businessman Jean Valvis says this year matches at the World Cup are definitely not to miss. “I’ve always watched every World Cup tournament, never missed one. It is a real pleasure to watch the event in front of the television and match it with a glass of good wine”, said Valvis.

Although he is sentimentally attached to Greece, he bets the odds-on winner is Brazil or Spain.

He’s never been to a world championship; the only tournament he went to was an Olympic Games edition. “I’m not gonna go that far. First of all, I am very busy with the launch of the mineral water brand. We have to focus on these things first and then afford the luxury to go that far”, said Jean Valvis.

Shmulik Porre, chairman and CEO of dairy producer Tnuva says there is no doubt about who will be lifting the trophy this year, Brazil of course. He will be watching most of the World Cup matches at home, or in pubs with friends.

Even though he’s not that much into football, Andrei Vasilescu, corporate affairs director Philip Morris Romania & Bulgaria, says spectacular matches are fun to watch. As for this year’s World Cup, Philip Morris representative says he will watch at least the semifinals, and the finals, of course.

“If they will pull it off in the final stages, the Spain’s squad will be unbeatable. It would be a great final Spain against Brazil. So…. I’ll say Viva Espana!”, said Vasilescu.

Giuseppe Parma, country manager Indesit Romania, says he will be watching all the matches, from the opening match to the finals. “For every football fan every Championship is unique, and is fully expected, because after all, it is once every four years, right? With football it’s simple. It’s either you love it or you don’t. And if you’re in the first category, you love it dearly”, said Parma.

A home country is still a home country, but when it comes to actually placing a bet, Parma’s no 1 pick would definitely be Spain.

“With Vicente del Bosque as a coach, European champions title, 8 consecutive victories, they surely have the squad and players to win this year. I will be glad though, because Spain is like my second home country”, Indesit manager said.

He “lives” the game, gets emotional at every match, gets sad or happy, so home will be the best place to watch the World Cup. “Here, I can live the game like I should”, said Parma.

Italy, financiers’ picks

The poor security in South Africa is the main reason why Vlad Busila, Partner at Capital Partners will watch the matches at home.

“I’ll try to watch as many matches I can”, said Vlad Busila, who says it is difficult to pick a winner.

“There are the same favorites to win the Cup – Brazil and Argentina – and this year’s newcomers are England and Spain. My favorite is and will remain Italy”, the investment banker said.

Dorin Badea, Head of Treasury at UniCredit Tiriac: The host continent could make big surprises this year.

Dorin Badea, Head of Treasury at UniCredit Tiriac Bank says he will watch the tournament as much as time allows, especially the decisive matches between strong squads.

Since there are so many strong teams, Dorin Badea says it is difficult to pick a winner. “My favorites are Brazil, Italy and Germany. And then is Argentina that brings the world’s best striker (Lionel Messi), and his fellow team-mates headed by coach Diego Armando Maradona, who’s probably the most controversial legendary figure which may be the key to the success or defeat of Spain’s national team”, Badea said.

Niemann, Hilton: Germany will win, of course

"Soccer is a game for 22 people that run around, play the ball, and one referee who makes a slew of mistakes, and in the end Germany always wins”, is a famous quote of Gary Lineker after a match with Germany.

But it seems that Gary Lineker was not the only one to believe so. Even though he is not that much into football, the chief executive of the five-star hotel Athenee Palace Hilton is definitely a nationalist. “I think that Germany has the squad to win the World Cup trophy”, said the head of Hilton.

Head of Radisson: Spain has a golden generation

As neither Austria nor Turkey made it the World Cup and were defeated in playoffs, the Turkish-born Ali Yilmaz Yildirimlar, chief executive of Radisson Blu Bucharest, the biggest five-star hotel in Bucharest, has picked other teams as favorites for the World Cup trophy. “There are teams I like more than others: Argentina, England and Spain. However, I would like to see an African team challenging one of the top favorites; it would be something, wouldn’t it?” Yildirimlar told Wall-Street.

For the time being, Spain is the odds-on winner: “I think that Spain’s national team is the golden generation. But neither Brazil nor Argentina should be rated too low”, said the head of Radisson.

Bogdan Nitu (photo)
, chief executive of Webstyler said he would watch World Cup matches, preferable in pubs with many friends.

Two years ago, he went to Romania’s team matches at the European Football Championship. Although he would like that very much, he wouldn’t be able to watch this year’s World matches live at the stadium.

"A final tour is truly an unrivalled experience. I still have an orange feather from a Dutch’s hat. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go to the World Cup. I’ll be in Cannes Lions at that time. And if you go to World Cup matches, you can’t stay less than a week. But since we have been involved in football campaigns (EuroArena Coca Cola in 2008, True Football (Fotbal Adevarat – Timisoreana 2010) and now a World Cup campaign, we will have some «eyes» there providing us a glimpse of the world tournament", Bogdan Nitu said.

Orlando Nicoara, chief executive of Apropo Media, hopes to see as many World Cup matches as possible.

“I will not go to South Africa. I would have taken my father to World Cup if Romania had won in the playoffs. But now, I have no motivation to go, and above all, the news about crime rates in South Africa scared me”, said Nicoara.

His preferences, Argentina, Brazil and Spain.

Golden moments – memories, memories, memories

Mihai Seceleanu, CEO of InternetCorp publisher, thinks back at the World Cup final that saw Germany challenging Brazil, a match he watched in a British pub in Copenhagen.

“Snapshots flutter back into my memory. In 2002, I was in a school project in Denmark, and I watched there the World Cup final when Germany played Brazil. I was in a British pub in Copenhagen. The mood was great: I was surrounded by Danish, Germans and people from all around the world. There were three Brazilian women dancing on the table, everybody was ecstatic (everybody but me, I was supporting Germany – oddly, the Danish weren’t supporting their European fellows). The beer was flowing freely and foaming in people’s glasses. The end of the match, I remember it was really exciting: all players from Brazil squad gathered under the flag and kneeled down in the middle of the field, holding hands and praying or thanking God for the victory”, Seceleanu said.

And that’s when he decided not miss any World Cup final and is an ardent fan of Brazil’s national team ever since. His pick: Brazil, of course.

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