Monday, June 30, 2014
Are we seeing the end of old Europe in elite global football? Spain, England and Italy are already out of the world's most prestigious competition. Has globalization dealt the law of unintended concequences on the cradle of football or soccer as the Americans would want us to call it? I will explain. The beautiful game is native to Old Europe and is only an export in the rest of the World. Statistics show that European countries have won more World Cup trophies than any other region or bloc in the world. This was because of firstly, historical reasons, economic and financial reasons and simply because the best tacticians in the game called Europe home. Then globalization happened. European leagues were internationalized and allowed in imported talent and so the diffusion of skill started. The poorest African could play in Europe's elite leagues if they had the best demonstrable skills and were scouted and spotted. There was a transfer of skills as a result as these European-based players returned home to play for their national teams. But the coaches and tacticians still remained European. Cameroun, Ghana and Senegal reached the quarter finals of different world cup finals with foreign coaches. But things have changed. At this Brazil show-piece, Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast now have local coaches. With the passage of time the players who plied their trade in European leagues have graduate to coaching. Stephen Keshi, Kalushya Bwalya, George Weah have taken variously taken on coaching. And then there is the small case of the Latin revolution at the 2014 World Cup. Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and the usual suspects, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico all made it to the last 16.