Iceland’s Historic Baby Boom Comes Nine Months After Surprise Euro Cup 2016 Win
Feel free to do the math.
In June last year, Iceland’s soccer team pulled off a jaw-dropping upset and beat one-time World Cup winner England in a Euro Cup 2016 match. And this month, the small island nation is experiencing an unprecedented boom in births. Nine months after the historic 2-1 win. Curious.
Asgeir Petur Thorvaldsson, an anesthesiologist at Reyjavik’s Landspitali University Hospital, said the hospital “set a record for the number of epidurals” in the maternity ward this weekend, referring to pain relief given to women about to go into labor.
It wasn’t just any match, you see. The small island nation never qualified for a major European tournament before 2016 and it was the smallest country to ever advance to a quarter final round. So almost 10 percent country (27,000 out of a total 300,000 inhabitants) went to attend the game in person, while 99.8 percent of Icelandic TV’s tuned into the match.
When Iceland pulled off the win, clips of its fans celebrating went viral:
The win stunned England (the Guardian called it “one of the greatest humiliations in their history,” and that is saying something) — and the world found a new underdog to root for.
Sadly, France squashed Iceland’s dreams by beating them in the next round of the tournament, ending a fairytale story that briefly captured the world’s attention. But it clearly didn’t stop Icelanders from celebrating the victory. In more fashion than one.
Iceland isn’t the first country to have a sports win-fueled baby boom. Germany’s birthrate shot up almost 30 percent nine months after it hosted the World Cup in 2006 — and Germany came in third. Spain’s rose 16 percent nine months after Barcelona won the 2009 Champions League. And, while D.C. sports fans haven’t really had on-field success to root for or get excited about this century, they still find a way to celebrate the important things: D.C. hospitals reported a sharp uptick in births nine months after the 2013 federal government shutdown.
Photo credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer