if way a country plays football (soccer to you aussies and u.s. americans) is a metaphor for naitonal identity what does the 2010 world cup say about the participating countries?
uruguay, which only ceded its first goal yesterday in its 2:1 win against korea, has one of the highest literacy rates and lowest corruption rates in south america, is perhaps a sleeping giant. south africa played its first and last games confidently but lost its way in between. ghana has consistently played with passion and has demonstrated that its got youth and technique on its side although there is still a tendency, once approaching the goal post to think of the indivdual as opposed to the team.
the u.s. is a plucky undergdog that has a can-do spirit. but since california kids grow up playing the beautiful game by not keeping score (least these testostorone filled boys become competitive men), this plays out negatively on their passion for the sport as adults. perhaps it’s why the u.s. at times seems to play to tie.
are france and italy broken? why does the germany team play with bouts of confidence (beating australia 4:0) followed closely by insecurity (losing to serbia 0:1)? the brazilian team play with a confidence they lost in 2006 when france took them out. the country, which forms one of the booming BRIC nations, has managed to avoid getting completely lost in the quagmire of the world recession. the country is expected to grow at a rate of 5.2% this year. while the team looks more and more like an international champion. but argentiana, which just 7 years ago was bogged down in a huge financial crisis, has rebounded and the football team, lead by coach diego maradona threatens to do the same. but the question is does a team built around lionel messi have a chance if messi gets boxed in?
and what about spain? the football team chose to stay on a college campus while the france team chose a 5 star hotel. spain, which has a 20% unemployment rate and is being led by a socialist government, is not weathering the financial crisis and the world recession very well. spaniards hard pressed to find jobs in their home country have been moving in droves to cities across europe. but can a team built around the talent of fernando torres beat brazil in the achtefinale (as they call it in germany) –a team whose wealth of talent is more generously spread across its team incompassing robinho and kaka?