By Paul Sandle and Sarah Mills
LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Sweden’s Loreen is favourite to win Eurovision ahead of Finland’s Kaarija and Ukraine’s Tvorchi, bookmakers William Hill said on Friday, adding that Australian rockers Voyager were also being backed after their appearance in Thursday’s semi-final.
The Grand Final of the song contest will be held on Saturday night in Liverpool, northern England, which is hosting the event on behalf of last year’s winners Ukraine.
Twenty of the finalists have been endorsed by the public in two semi-finals. They will be joined by Ukraine and the “Big Five” of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy in the final.
“Sweden are the short price favourite,” William Hill spokesperson Lee Phelps told Reuters. “Loreen has won it before – she’s kind of Eurovision royalty. We are expecting more money to come for Sweden.”
Loreen, who triumphed in 2012 with “Euphoria”, is performing “Tattoo” in her second contest.
Kaarija, the green bolero-sleeved singer from Finland whose track “Cha Cha Cha” has gone down a storm in the arena, has also been a very popular selection, Phelps said, and Ukraine “was up there in the betting”.
He said Eurovision had grown and grown in popularity for wagers, reflecting the rise of the global event.
The United Kingdom’s Mae Muller is not among the favourites, but she was still attracting 12% of all bets, he said, adding that the bookmaker is donating profits from Eurovision to humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Eurovision blogger William Lee Adams said capturing the zeitgeist had been key to winning in recent years.
“They’re tapping into something that’s happening either culturally or politically, something people can relate to in that moment,” he said. “You may not be able to voice it, but you feel it.”
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, who will perform again in the final, reminded the world last year that the country’s culture had existed for a long time and would continue to exist after the war, he said, while Netta from Israel won in 2018 by singing about female empowerment after the “me too” scandal.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Sarah Mills; Editing by David Gregorio)