The EU loves a good crisis. In the past we’ve had a Treaty crisis, a referendum crisis, an economic crisis, and a Euro crisis – and now, we have a World Cup crisis.
So far this has not been a good World Cup for EU Member States. Favourites Spain lost their opener to a non-EU European country (Switzerland), Germany have literally just lost to a “wannabe” EU Member State (Serbia), and France’s defeat last night accompanies similar under-par performances from EU big-shots Italy, Portugal, and England, the UK’s sole representatives.
Before the competition started some Brussels-based folk tried to put together their dream-EU World Cup team, but now it must be doubted whether such a team could go far in the competition.
Argentina have been the early pace-setters, with the other South American countries (Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Brazil and Mexico) all looking “useful” and creating problems for the European nations.
The African countries have shown glimpses of brilliance (Ghana) followed by slightly longer periods of mediocrity (South Africa) and just plain stupidity (Nigeria), but the same could be said for the EU nations. Basically, the EU collective has yet to play anything near to its best in the Rainbow state.
But can an EU Member State win the World Cup? Of course – after all, they have won two of the last three – but the challenges from other global regions are growing all the time.
EU countries now have to compete with the likes of South Korea, Mexico, and the United States who offer stiffer tests than they did ten years ago. Many of these countries’ best players have themselves gained experience in the EU’s national leagues, become better players for it, and now enjoy putting one over their more fancied opponents.
The EU as a bloc is struggling to find its place in a globalised world, but nowhere is this truer than football, as this World Cup has gone to show. The drawback, of course, is that it is much harder to introduce protectionist measures when it comes to a national football team than it is to slap a few hefty tariffs on imports from a developing country.
Perhaps then football is the true result of globalisation, untainted and unsullied by corrective regulations and out of reach of national lawmakers. Globalisation in its purest form. But for how long?