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What the World Cup says about the world
« on: July 14, 2014, 04:59:48 AM »
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Peter Tasker: What the World Cup says about the world

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Football has become a global language. The FIFA World Cup Final, to be held on July 13, is likely to attract an audience of over 1 billion people, according to accountancy firm Deloitte. The viewers will range from Russian oligarchs in London penthouses to impoverished crowds gazing at open-air screens in slums and shanty towns. For the 90 minutes of the match, they will share the same excitement and marvel at the same feats of skill and athleticism.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2014, 05:01:56 AM »
     The game has crowded out all other sports because of its simplicity and accessibility. You can play football in almost any climate, on a Brazilian beach or a Glaswegian back-street, with two or 22 players. Unlike American football and hockey, it doesn't require special facilities or equipment. All you need is some space and a ball with air in it. Unlike rugby and cricket, its rules are clear and easy to understand, and unlike tennis and golf, it is not a marker of class or ethnic origin.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2014, 05:02:47 AM »
     These are the features that have turned football into an idealized version of the global economy. No market is as ferociously competitive as football, no industry as dynamic or meritocratic. In reality, our contemporary capitalist world is profoundly unfair. Where you end up in life is all too often dependent on where you start. Vested interests embed themselves in economies and siphon off lucrative "rents", only to be bailed out by governments when the going gets rough.

     But on the pitch, daddy's political connections get you nowhere and there is no concept of "too big to fail."  All that counts is talent and commitment, and those two qualities can take you from abject poverty to extraordinary riches in a few years, as evidenced by the careers of such greats as Maradona and Zidane.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2014, 05:03:48 AM »
     On Planet Football, geopolitics is reversed too. The U.S. and Japan are not economic heavyweights, but plucky minnows struggling to compete. Argentina is not a serial defaulter, but a triple A-rated country that possesses a trophy asset, Lionel Messi, winner of four successive Ballons d'Or. India and China are not rising superpowers. On Planet Football, they barely exist. Instead of the BRICs, we have the up-and-coming BICCs: Belgium, Ivory Coast, Chile and Colombia.

     Manchester United's home ground is not known as "the theater of dreams" for nothing. It is the unreality of football that makes it so compelling that one-fifth of the world population will put aside other matters and gaze at the nearest screen on July 13.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2014, 05:06:07 AM »
Ugly realities

But booms always carry the seeds of a subsequent bust. There is now so much at stake financially -- for players, sponsors and operators in the background -- that it is almost impossible for "the beautiful game," as Brazil's Pele termed it, to retain its magic. The dark side of globalization -- the lack of accountability and responsibility, the massive discrepancies of wealth and power, the pursuit of success at the expense of ethical principle -- is all too present on Planet Football.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2014, 05:07:15 AM »
     Albert Camus, the French existentialist writer and one-time goalkeeper, claimed that what he "knew most surely about morality and obligations" he owed to football. One wonders what he would have made of Luis Suarez, of Uruguay and Liverpool, sinking his teeth into an opponent's arm. Or Manchester City's Yaya Toure threatening to leave the club because he felt "disrespected" after being given an inadequate birthday cake. Or the diving and histrionic faking of injuries that features in every major tournament.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2014, 05:09:29 AM »
     What the players get up to pales in comparison to what goes on behind the scenes. Europol's Operation Veto investigation into match-fixing has deemed 680 games "suspicious", including World Cup qualifiers and European Champions League matches. Zurich-based FIFA is itself the epitome of a free-floating supranational entity that exists in a realm beyond normal rules. The current president, Sepp Blatter, has been in office since 1998 and is attempting to stay on for another term. Even that would not match the 24-year reign of his predecessor, Joao Havelange, who is alleged to have amassed a fortune in bribes. The latest scandal about awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar should come as a surprise to nobody.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2014, 05:10:23 AM »
     Is football a bubble waiting to burst? The sums of money involved suggest that might be the case. Wayne Rooney, the underperforming star of underperforming Manchester United and England, earns 300,000 pounds ($510,464) a week just from football. That is made possible by the monetary value of broadcasting rights for the English Premier League, which has roughly tripled in the past 10 years. For its part, FIFA, the scandal-wracked international football federation, is expected to generate $4 billion from the World Cup in broadcasting and sponsorship deals.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2014, 05:12:43 AM »
     Football gets away with taking a larger and larger share of consumer incomes because of the powerful identification people feel with their favorite teams and players. And that sense of tribal loyalty is exactly what is threatened by the globalized, out-of-control football economy. It will take more than a few moments of inspiration from Messi, Neymar and company to give the sport's aging "bull market" a new lease on life.

Peter Tasker is an analyst with Arcus Research in Tokyo.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2014, 11:41:17 PM »
World Cup victory confirms Germany supremacy on almost every measure

After so many years of commanding respect the nation should rejoice that its football is finally recognised as beautiful

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Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Germany team after their victory over Argentina in the World Cup Final. Photograph: Guido Bergmann/Handout/EPA

Louise Taylor
Sunday 13 July 2014


It cannot surely be long before Angela Merkel is pictured placing a consolatory arm around David Cameron, after being overheard lecturing Vladimir Putin on the trouble with 4-4-2, and brochures extolling Germany will become popular in high-street travel agencies as the world wakes up to a much-underrated destination. Who needs Barcelona when you’ve got Bavaria?

In boardrooms around the globe, football club owners will be instructing their chief executives to “get me a German”. Across assorted time zones it is no longer enough for a goalkeeper to have “safe hands”. Thanks to Manuel Neuer the era of “sweeper-keepers”, boasting strong lines in fancy footwork, is upon us.

With the death of tiki-taka now rubber-stamped, aspiring football coaches will eschew study trips to Spain, instead flocking to a rather large patch of Europe stretching from the Baltic to the Alps.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2014, 11:42:12 PM »
Anxious to replicate what Miroslav Klose describes as his country’s “Super Blend” of aesthetics and über-efficiency, the Football Association will inevitably introduce a five-year plan designed to accelerate the implementation of German-ification throughout all areas of the English game. They might stop just short of equipping the computer screen-savers at St George’s Park and Wembley with images of Joachim Löw/Merkel/Thomas Müller/Sami Khedira super-imposed on Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue.

As Löw – his somewhat patchy record in club management long since forgotten – is pursued by the Champions League glitterati, British politicians may begin wondering whether the startling synchronicity between the philosophies behind Germany’s economic and footballing revivals is entirely coincidental. Parallels are bound to be explored.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2014, 11:42:52 PM »
From Dresden to the Dutch border, Germans should swiftly come to terms with finally being recognised as being truly beautiful after all. After so many years of commanding respect, admiration – albeit sometimes grudging – and even fear, a football evolution that, in typically methodical manner, began in 2000 has culminated in a velvet revolution.

Although it is symbolised by a fourth World Cup trophy, and first since 1990, this international coup was essentially pulled off during that astonishing 7-1 semi-final demolition of Brazil. When Juninho declared that Germany were playing as his compatriots once did and watching them had made him “very happy”, it felt like an epiphany. Not to mention the vindication of an awful lot of meticulous hard work. In the space of 90 extraordinary minutes it seemed as if a nation’s reinvention had been all but completed.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2014, 11:44:06 PM »
In 2000, remember, Germany was the sick man of Europe. As the economy stalled, the national football side suffered elimination from the European Championship after failing to win a single match.

Fast forward 14 years and under Merkel’s chancellorship her country has regained economic powerhouse status; and, under first Jürgen Klinsmann’s tutelage and now his one-time sidekick’s, a fast, technical, ethnically diverse Germany team have reached at least the semi-final of every international tournament since 2006. During Brazil 2014, Merkel texted every Germany player a good-luck message and later sent congratulations. While some predicted their team would once again choke at the final hurdle, the chancellor had faith the “system” would be fully endorsed.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2014, 11:47:52 PM »
Just as the country’s rebranded, heavily yet subtly tweaked version of socially responsible capitalism (a bit more ruthless than before but still big on fair competition, long-term goals and employers maintaining the sort of paternalistic attitudes towards employees now scorned in many UK quarters) paid dividends so too has the Bundesliga’s similarly socially responsible football model.

Fans enjoy controlling influences at clubs, television revenues are distributed evenly and ticket prices pegged, while “mercenary” foreign owners are kept out. The conditions remain ripe for top-class development of indigenous youth which, facilitated by high-calibre coaching, takes place alongside academic education.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2014, 11:48:50 PM »
Germany has reaped the rewards of staffing the Bundesliga with more than double the number of homegrown players found in the Premier League. Not to mention producing around 10 times the English contingent of pro-licence qualified coaches.

So much for the macro picture but at micro level German glory will prompt individual prosperity. The Stanford University scientists behind the “CoolingGloves” CoreControl technology that Mesut Özil and company routinely donned at half-time in Brazil’s heat to reduce their internal body temperatures to optimal levels, should flourish. England may have decided against purchasing these cramp-preventing chill mitts but, if the 2022 World Cup takes place in Qatar, everyone will want a pair.

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Re: What the World Cup says about the world
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2014, 11:51:33 PM »
The German multinational software company SAP Data which, in a neat example of the synergy between the nation’s industry and its football, provided Löw with endless groundbreaking performance and sports-science statistics can also expect to boom.

Try telling Merkel that politics and sport do not mix. Or that success does not breed success.

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