Like any other sporting event, there’s no certainty in the present World Cup except the fact that no South American team will win it.
Between them, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have won the football World Cup nine times, eleven if you consider the football tournaments at the Olympic Games before football became an independent sport — that is the reason Uruguay wears four stars on their jersey instead of the two they would for 1930 and 1950. But the fact is that since 2002 when Brazil lifted the championship, a South American team has not won. Argentina haven’t won since Maradona’s hand literally won them the trophy in 1986 and Uruguay haven’t won since 1950. All these three teams are out of the ongoing tournament. As are Colombia and Peru. And the South American champions, Chile, didn’t even make it to the party in Russia.
The southern half of the American continent defines themselves by football. Yet, their ongoing lack of success is making people question why? Some of the best players in the world are the likes of Messi, Neymar and Suarez, yet since 2002 it cannot be said that there is a South American team that was unfortunate to not win the Cup even though Argentina came mighty close in 2014.
One reason might be the utter predominance of European club football in the world. The best players from South America often leave for Europe at a very young age, some like Messi left when they were still in school, ostensibly FC Barcelona, his club, offered to pay for his treatment for his growth issues. Unlike European players, many of which play in their own countries or are at best a short flight away from home, Argentina and Brazil are far and often clubs concerned about their assets don’t release players from South America for national duty. Formenting a team spirit in some teams is therefore impossible — look at Argentina at this World Cup.
Sure this problem is not new and was there even when Brazil won their last World Cup with the original Ronaldo in their squad. But somehow at this dance the Samba and Tango just didn’t sell. More likely than not it is because European club football has led to a rapid development of tactics which has permeated continental teams. Coupled with a closer team, just look at Belgium for team spirit, these countries have outplayed the South Americans thoroughly. The 2018 Football World Cup has been an amazing spectacle but South American nations are headed back knowing that something is deeply rotten in the state of the sport that defines them. Not the sport itself, but with the way they play.
Courtesy: The Pioneer