I know that this post is not like anything else I have written, but there is an unusual connection between football and politics sometimes. I think everyone who has seen or heard a match commentary knows that there is a lot of war-type jargon used in football. For example, the players are sometimes called troops and the match is a battle, with the cliche of ‘last line of defence’ coming up now and again. Nevertheless, there is something interesting which struck me when I was examining the World Cup squads: some of the biggest national teams, and favorites to win the tournament, pick players only from their domestic leagues!
Take Italy for example. All of the 23 players in the Italian squad play in the Italian Serie A. Six of them are from Juventus and three from AC Milan, and none from Inter. That is surprising, considering the fact that Inter won the Champions League and the Serie A this year, while Juventus finished 7th in the league. What is going on there is hard to determine.
Another example is Germany. All 23 players from the German squad play in the Bundesliga. Seven of them are from Bayern Munich (the Bundesliga champions and Champions League finalists), which is not surprising. Four come from Werder Bremen, who came third in the league this season, so that is not a surprise either. Yet, this just goes to show that the best German players do not go outside their home country to play. That is a shame I think.
Some of you might think that the situation is different with the European Champions Spain. Well, you are not nearly as right as you expect. Out of the 23 players in the Spanish squad, only 3 come from outside the Primera Division – Fernando Torres and Jose Reina from Liverpool and Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal. Yes, the Spanish players have often had an affinity to playing in Englans, but rumors are currently circulating that Torres and Fabregas might actually be moving back to the Spanish Primera. I think this is just as much a shame as with the German squad for the same reasons.
Let’s not forget the English, who seem to have opted for a star line-up made up of 23 players from the Premiership. It is interesting that Capello (the only foreigner in the whole team) did not look beyond the borders of the island for his World Cup squad. In fact, he did not look beyond the borders of England’s top flight football. Yes, it might be the best league in the world, but that does not mean that world class players should not go across the Channel onto the mainland. It is very significant that none have decided to do so. What it signifies, I leave up to you.
I know that picking the best players for the World Cup is very important, but looking only at your domestic league is pitiful. There are world class players out there, who are just waiting for you to discover them. The only reason I can think of is that the scouts and the coach did not have resources to fly outside their country and look at other players. The more likely explanation though, is that the world class players only play in their own domestic league. If that is the case, then maybe they should ask themselves some very serious questions.