Europe ascendant

It is over, the Brazilian festival of football concludes with a triumphant Germany overcoming a less than exhilarating Argentine team. On the way they saw off a below par Brazil, and their toughest matches came against African opposition: a draw with Ghana in the group stages and an extra-time victory over Algeria in the second round. Germany are fitting winners, the best team prevailing in the world’s most popular team sport.

England were disappointing, leaving this correspondent pleased that he could fall back on his Belgian ancestry. To be honest, the best games to watch were those that did not include England, who proved that you can have the world’s most exciting league and the dourest national team simultaneously.

Here is a list of world cup winners and host nations. A couple of things are immediately noticeable, the main one being that this years was the first occasion that a European team has triumphed in the Americas. The other is that the last three tournaments have been won by European teams, and that has not happened before either.

Winner Host
1930 Uruguay Uruguay
1934 Italy Italy
1938 Italy France
1950 Uruguay Brazil
1954 West Germany Switzerland
1958 Brazil Sweden
1962 Brazil Chile
1966 England England
1970 Brazil Mexico
1974 West Germany West Germany
1978 Argentina Argentina
1982 Italy Spain
1986 Argentina Mexico
1990 West Germany Italy
1994 Brazil USA
1998 France France
2002 Brazil Japan and South Korea
2006 Italy Germany
2010 Spain South Africa
2014 Germany Brazil
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3 Responses to Europe ascendant

  1. England, who proved that you can have the world’s most exciting league and the dourest national team simultaneously.

    Perhaps there is a correlation:
    – The Premier League seems to be able to boss the FA
    – Premier League teams are no longer local teams representing their corner of “England”
    – Much of the excitement in the Premier League comes from non English players
    – Players in the Premier league are very comfortable in terms of pay and esteem and just “don’t need” any recognition that may come from playing for their country – it’s too much hassle. Perhaps they would rather be on holiday (“bit of a rest before the start of the next Premiership season”). They can also get equivalent (or greater) recognition playing in the Champions League.

    There is possibly also an effect within the fan base for “England”. Outside the core supporters who will mortgage their families to follow England (and be disappointed) do the English have a sufficient “English identity” (as opposed to say a “British identity” and compared to “Scottish identity”)? Merckel could travel to support (a united) Germany, but would Cameron (or under a different scenario Brown) have felt comfortable appearing “English” and travelled to a final featuring England? “Team GB” at the Olympics seemed to be able to gather a deeper and wider pool of support.

    So,
    – are Germany and Holland etc. different in that the points above do not have an equivalent or are they just different in degree?
    – do we see similar (but less developed) effects in sports like Rugby Union (where club vs country is also an issue)?

  2. It is quite an interesting doorstep conversation those player salaries and the consequences for club and country. The game at home has changed considerably from the days of my youth, when naming a team’s first eleven was an easy enough task, and team strips remained unchanged (both home and away) for season after season.

    I think the issue of appetite is pertinent, especially in light of revelations about some players looking to avoid international duty. [http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/27962633]

    Of course, England has no ‘right’ to success, but it does make you wonder whether those telephone number salaries are justifiable.

  3. it does make you wonder whether those telephone number salaries are justifiable.

    Is it ever justifiable for someone to earn in a day more than the average national salary? Surely to earn that you have to be curing cancer / MND etc. – or wearing your underpants on the outside and flying around the skies (or both).

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