Globalization and the World Cup

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

In the past few decades, the phenomenon of globalization has swept through the world. The world is more open and interconnected than any other time throughout history. Proponents of globalization argue that its effects have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, from places as diverse as China to India to South America. Opponents argue that globalization and free trade have led to rising inequality, damage to the environment, and jobs lost for millions of American workers.

Whatever the truth, globalization appears unstoppable. The greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression has barely dented the network; only another world war could truly undo its effects.

The World Cup offers a good illustration of globalization. The history of modern soccer contains a rich tradition in the veins of globalization. For decades, Third World countries have sent their best footballers to play in the First World, especially the great leagues of Europe: Italy’s Serie A, La Liga of Spain, and – above all – England’s Premier League. In World Cups, these players return to represent their home countries and win the World Cup championship.

Here is how the system looked in 1994:

Link to Picture of Globalization and the World Cup, 1994

This graphic comes from a Brazilian website, which can be accessed here. On top are each of the countries which participated in the 1994 World Cup; below are the national leagues of each country. The connecting lines indicate the leagues in which a country’s footballers play when not representing the national team. In some countries – Saudi Arabia, for instance – all the footballers played at the home league; in others, such as Norway and Brazil, the majority of footballers played in foreign leagues.

Here is how this phenomenon looked in the most recent World Cup:

Link to Picture of Globalization and the World Cup, 2010

Sixteen years after 1994, the system has exploded as globalization has set in. More footballers than ever play in countries outside their home. They go to a bewildering variety of different places, from Israel to Germany to even Saudi Arabia. In 1994 the majority of the World Cup team played outside home in 6 (out of 24) teams; today this figure has expanded to 22 (out of 32) teams. Even North Korea, perhaps the most isolated country in the world today, had three players participating in leagues outside the country. Then there are countries like Nigeria: not a single person on its team plays in the domestic league.

The globalization of soccer has had several effects. European leagues such as England’s Premier League now rely heavily on foreign talent. Famous clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Juventus have combined the best of the best in the world to form teams of unprecedented skill. Indeed, the level of play in club competition – especially the European Champion Clubs’ Cup – is generally regarded as better than that of the World Cup.

Finally, one might wonder which teams do better – those that outsource their talent, or those that develop it domestically. The answer seems to be that it doesn’t make a difference. Brazil, for instance, has a long tradition of sending players to Europe – and it is widely regarded as the world’s best soccer team. However, so do a number of African teams such as Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. These teams came in the 2010 World Cup with high expectations and talent, but generally underperformed.

On the other side, soccer powers such as Spain and Germany keep talent at home.  However, so does North Korea – a team which came in dead last this year. It is difficult to draw a reliable distinction. Perhaps fittingly, out of the four top teams in this year’s World Cup two had most of their players go overseas, while the other two had most play at home.

P.S. For those interested, here is a graphic of the United States soccer team. Out of 23 players, nineteen play abroad.

Link to Picture of Globalization and the United States Soccer Team

 

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

Do Fans of the World Cup Tend to Be Liberals?

With Spain’s 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, the World Cup has come to a close. A spectacle watched by millions – perhaps billions – around the world, the four-year tournament constitutes the world’s most popular sporting event.

In the United States, long a hold-out against football-mania, interest in the World Cup has been steadily rising. While still below Latin-American or European levels of enthusiasm, the number of people watching games has reached new degrees. In my hometown, for instance, a number of my peers expressed surprising amounts of enthusiasm about the latest soccer news. Even individuals one wouldn’t expect – 10-year-old kids, young teenage girls – displayed passion throughout the event.

My hometown is also fairly liberal place. Indeed, one could get away with describing it as one of the most liberal suburbs in America. Coincidence?

Perhaps not. When one thinks about the regions most intensely interested in soccer, Republican-voting areas generally don’t come to mind. People generally don’t imagine the good folk of Alabama or Utah as being passionately devoted to soccer.

Instead, most would probably characterize people in the West Coast and the Northeast as the biggest fans of soccer. They might point to places like Seattle, the Bay Area, or New York City. Liberal places, in other words. (One might also mention regions more populated by Latinos, such as San Diego or southwest Texas).

Media coverage also points in this direction. The New York Times, a strong proponent of American liberalism, blanketed its sports sections with the World Cup. Coverage included at least a couple of articles every day, a specialized blog, videos, interactive graphics, and even a travel guide to South Africa. Fox News, perhaps the best representation of the American conservative, took another direction. Conservative rock-star Glenn Beck slammed the World Cup:

It doesn’t matter how you try to sell it to us, it doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get, it doesn’t matter how many bars open early. We don’t want the World Cup, we don’t like the World Cup, we don’t like soccer, we want nothing to do with it.

Fox’s evening show, Red-Eye, also aired a feature making fun of the very concept of football.

To be fair, all this constitutes little more than an educated hypothesis. There are no studies out there (that I know of, at least) proving that liberals are more likely to watch the World Cup.

But interest in soccer is just one of many differences between what liberals and conservatives do and like, no matter how seemingly unrelated to politics. Polls indicated that liberals were far bigger fans of Michael Jackson’s music, for instance. Fox News was also far more critical of the musician when he died – another strange, perhaps non-coincidence. The choice of who to vote for in the ballot box, it seems, may be related to far more than just political opinion.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Do Fans of the World Cup Tend to Be Liberals?

With Spain’s 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, the World Cup has come to a close. A spectacle watched by millions – perhaps billions – around the world, the four-year tournament constitutes the world’s most popular sporting event.

In the United States, long a hold-out against football-mania, interest in the World Cup has been steadily rising. While still below Latin-American or European levels of enthusiasm, the number of people watching games has reached new degrees. In my hometown, for instance, a number of my peers expressed surprising amounts of enthusiasm about the latest soccer news. Even individuals one wouldn’t expect – 10-year-old kids, young teenage girls – displayed passion throughout the event.

My hometown is also fairly liberal place. Indeed, one could get away with describing it as one of the most liberal suburbs in America. Coincidence?

Perhaps not. When one thinks about the regions most intensely interested in soccer, Republican-voting areas generally don’t come to mind. People generally don’t imagine the good folk of Alabama or Utah as being passionately devoted to soccer.

Instead, most would probably characterize people in the West Coast and the Northeast as the biggest fans of soccer. They might point to places like Seattle, the Bay Area, or New York City. Liberal places, in other words. (One might also mention regions more populated by Latinos, such as San Diego or southwest Texas).

Media coverage also points in this direction. The New York Times, a strong proponent of American liberalism, blanketed its sports sections with the World Cup. Coverage included at least a couple of articles every day, a specialized blog, videos, interactive graphics, and even a travel guide to South Africa. Fox News, perhaps the best representation of the American conservative, took another direction. Conservative rock-star Glenn Beck slammed the World Cup:

It doesn’t matter how you try to sell it to us, it doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get, it doesn’t matter how many bars open early. We don’t want the World Cup, we don’t like the World Cup, we don’t like soccer, we want nothing to do with it.

Fox’s evening show, Red-Eye, also aired a feature making fun of the very concept of football.

To be fair, all this constitutes little more than an educated hypothesis. There are no studies out there (that I know of, at least) proving that liberals are more likely to watch the World Cup.

But interest in soccer is just one of many differences between what liberals and conservatives do and like, no matter how seemingly unrelated to politics. Polls indicated that liberals were far bigger fans of Michael Jackson’s music, for instance. Fox News was also far more critical of the musician when he died – another strange, perhaps non-coincidence. The choice of who to vote for in the ballot box, it seems, may be related to far more than just political opinion.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

A Tale of Two World Cup Teams

Algeria’s World Cup soccer team is a strange thing. Most of the players weren’t actually born in Algeria, and many of them don’t speak Arabic. In fact, an astonishing 17 of the 23 players on the Algerian squad were born in France – children of Algerian immigrants, who chose to play for the country of their parents instead of the country of their birth.

France’s national team could use some help. Their team, which in 2006 advanced to the World Cup finals, imploded this summer in a spectacular manner. France failed to advance past the first round and did not win a single game; in total, France’s prestigious squad scored one goal. Without the leadership of Zinedine Zidane, another son of Algerian immigrants, French soccer has struggled.

France has also struggled, like many continental European countries, to integrate its large population of non-white and often Muslim immigrants. Unlike the United States, French citizenship does not come with birth; one most demonstrate “sufficient Frenchness” and pass an interview. In practice, this means that an individual who was born in France, speaks French, and has lived in France for his or her entire life may still be denied French citizenship. A person whose grandparents immigrated to France might still not be considered a French citizen.

This hurts France. Its restrictive immigration and citizenship laws have created a large, expanding underclass of impoverished non-citizens. Many live in violent suburbs – banlieues – surrounding wealthy Paris. Forcibly cut off from the French mainstream and victims of heavy discrimination, the grievances of these individuals have expressed themselves through urban riots characterized by car-burnings.

It is from the banlieues that most of Algeria’s football squad comes from. Their decision to play for Algeria, instead of France, constitutes a powerful symbol of France’s continuing problems with integrating its ethic minorities.

France, judging by its performance – or lack thereof – in this year’s World Cup, needs these people. It needs children of immigrants, people like the great footballer Zinedine Zidane. If Mr. Zidane had decided to play for Algeria instead of France, as many people in like him are now choosing to do, France probably – certainly – would not have won the 1998 World Cup, or gotten second place four years ago.

To be fair, Algeria also did badly in the World Cup; it went 0-1-2, and the squad failed to score a single goal. But perhaps, if a couple of French-born first and second generation immigrants had decided to play for France instead of Algeria – perhaps France might have done a bit better. Perhaps it might have scored more than one goal. Perhaps it might have won a game. Perhaps it might even have advanced to the second round.

There is also a lesson for America here. A number of conservatives want a stricter, harsher regime on American immigrants; some propose stripping citizenship from the children of undocumented immigrants. They want, in other words, for the United States to become more like France.

Unless the United States wants to recreate France’s immigrant underclass, or experience a revival of the urban riots common during the 1960s and 1970s, these conservatives ought to carefully reconsider their stance. It would be a great loss, after all, if Alex Rodriguez or Mammy Ramirez decided to play for the Dominican Republic, instead of the United States.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

A Tale of Two World Cup Teams

Algeria’s World Cup soccer team is a strange thing. Most of the players weren’t actually born in Algeria, and many of them don’t speak Arabic. In fact, an astonishing 17 of the 23 players on the Algerian squad were born in France – children of Algerian immigrants, who chose to play for the country of their parents instead of the country of their birth.

France’s national team could use some help. Their team, which in 2006 advanced to the World Cup finals, imploded this summer in a spectacular manner. France failed to advance past the first round and did not win a single game; in total, France’s prestigious squad scored one goal. Without the leadership of Zinedine Zidane, another son of Algerian immigrants, French soccer has struggled.

France has also struggled, like many continental European countries, to integrate its large population of non-white and often Muslim immigrants. Unlike the United States, French citizenship does not come with birth; one most demonstrate “sufficient Frenchness” and pass an interview. In practice, this means that an individual who was born in France, speaks French, and has lived in France for his or her entire life may still be denied French citizenship. A person whose grandparents immigrated to France might still not be considered a French citizen.

This hurts France. Its restrictive immigration and citizenship laws have created a large, expanding underclass of impoverished non-citizens. Many live in violent suburbs – banlieues – surrounding wealthy Paris. Forcibly cut off from the French mainstream and victims of heavy discrimination, the grievances of these individuals have expressed themselves through urban riots characterized by car-burnings.

It is from the banlieues that most of Algeria’s football squad comes from. Their decision to play for Algeria, instead of France, constitutes a powerful symbol of France’s continuing problems with integrating its ethic minorities.

France, judging by its performance – or lack thereof – in this year’s World Cup, needs these people. It needs children of immigrants, people like the great footballer Zinedine Zidane. If Mr. Zidane had decided to play for Algeria instead of France, as many people in like him are now choosing to do, France probably – certainly – would not have won the 1998 World Cup, or gotten second place four years ago.

To be fair, Algeria also did badly in the World Cup; it went 0-1-2, and the squad failed to score a single goal. But perhaps, if a couple of French-born first and second generation immigrants had decided to play for France instead of Algeria – perhaps France might have done a bit better. Perhaps it might have scored more than one goal. Perhaps it might have won a game. Perhaps it might even have advanced to the second round.

There is also a lesson for America here. A number of conservatives want a stricter, harsher regime on American immigrants; some propose stripping citizenship from the children of undocumented immigrants. They want, in other words, for the United States to become more like France.

Unless the United States wants to recreate France’s immigrant underclass, or experience a revival of the urban riots common during the 1960s and 1970s, these conservatives ought to carefully reconsider their stance. It would be a great loss, after all, if Alex Rodriguez or Mammy Ramirez decided to play for the Dominican Republic, instead of the United States.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

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