Brazil, Corruption, and International Sports

As France eliminated the football super power Brazil, many people wondered how it could be. Though I am French, I did not know very much about football until this FIFA World Cup. Upon reading various documents about strategy and history, I have gained a newfound appreciation for the beautiful sport.

Many people wondered how it could be that France eliminated Brazil. I believe the explanation is rather simple; the Brazilian players, though superior in talent, lacked the motivation. Only seven of the twenty-two players play during the season in Brazil and the greatest player, Ronaldo, stated in 1998 that he would never return to play in Brazil, regardless of the price. Brazilian soccer industry is infected with the most potent form of corruption and incompetence. The stadiums where the great Pelé played, are falling apart, teams are not competitive and a meager 4 000 people typically show up to a league match. With a football industry in shambles, it is no wonder that the Brazilian players lack the motivation. Brazilian clubs are not poor; in the past twenty years, they have sold 700 million dollars worth of players to European clubs. Not to mention foreign investment which have injected millions of dollars, which were funneled to the club owner’s bank accounts in the Bahamas. When it comes to a national team, regardless of the sport, the reason they usually win or lose is because of their motivation. An Olympic athlete once told me, appropriately, that professional sports are 90% psychological and 10% physical.

That is not to discount France, which has leadership from Zidane and amazing talent in the form of Henry, Viera and recently, Ribery. I actually believe France will win the cup this year and bring to a close the era of Zidane.

On another note, professional sports are exactly like horse racing or F1. It is a game that rich men play against each other in the attempt to demonstrate their superiority. To develop players, then buy, sell, and trade them to pit against one another in competition. Much like other things in society, organized sports and their fans are a very interesting phenomenon worthy of further analysis.

Published on July 4, 2006