Football (soccer) is a global sport. That might be the most understated sentence I have ever written on this blog. The game has always been a presence for European and Latin American countries. However, within the last twenty five years, more continents have been opened up to the infectious nature of the game. In many ways the action of pioneering something into a new market, geographical location or industry is very exciting. You get to create something from the ground up while creating a blueprint many others will hopefully follow after in the years to come.
In 1994 the U.S. hosted the World Cup that would bring the sport back to a country tapered with immigrant roots. In 2002 South Korea and Japan hosted the World Cup in a move that uncovered the presence of the sport in Asia in a move reminiscent of being the investor who already knew potential was there. In 2010 South Africa hosted a World Cup that proved Africa could host a sporting event of that magnitude and peel back the third world image of has been at times unfairly painted with.
The World Cup gets rotated continent by continent as stipulated by FIFA. Africa, Asia and North America will get more chances to show why they are seen as the remaining frontiers of a sport that has captured the hearts and minds of many people woldwide. But questions arise over how it will disturb the already established powers within football. The 2016 winter transfer window was a shopping spree for Chinese teams. They were in Europe not to vacation, but to buy the most expensive items they could find and being them back home. That window rattled top Euro clubs who were now threatened by state supported teams that could not only match, but exceed the top wages offered.
Another issue to think about is how much will other sports or sporting culture in these final frontier continents will influence how football is now. Will we see a playoff system become the norm as the American influence in the Premier League increases? Will some Euro teams embrace a franchise style system that encourages team to just pack up and move to other lucrative markets in other cities? Will politics come into play by having clubs be public relations pieces for a particular ideology of state? Perhaps the viewing preferences of one continent differ slightly from another.
Look, I’m not saying on Europe and South America should dictate what football should and shouldn’t be. The sport is a global presence that should reflect that special status it has over other sports. I just want to point out that globalization is bringing interesting perspectives to think about that will challenge the version of the game we now enjoy through culture, economics, demographics, sport, laws and hopefully new ways to coach or play the game.
Have a noggin day folks!