March 11, 2014
OpinionMonday, December 30, 2013
Why not copy German soccer?
For the Herald
Argentine soccer organization is in a complete mess. All the Argentine Football Federation (AFA) would have to do is copy the good things from other countries. If they do not, it is either because they cannot see further than the tip of their noses or they do not want to because it might intervene with some obscure financial interests. Forget about the hooligans, that is another matter, but look at the technical and organizational aspects.
Although Germany is not a soccer-mad country like Argentina, it may surprise many that there are 26,000 clubs with 6.6 million players which is about 8% of the population, so these numbers do not make organization any easier than in Argentina. Clubs have to be majority-owned by their local community which does not allow take-over by rich, generally foreign, persons to become owners. Argentina may not have this problem, but investors owning players would not be allowed either.
Match tickets are cheaper than, for example, in the mostly expensive English Premier League and attendances are higher. If they had a hooligan problem in Germany, they would not try and fix it with a stupid regulation to keep fans of visiting teams out of stadiums which are in far better conditions than in Argentina. Everything is done to crowd in spectators, not to keep them out as here.
German clubs work harder to increase commercial revenue to make up for the absence of “sugar daddies” and there is a better training organization from the ground up. German players, as Europeans in general, do not have the inborn ball-playing skills of South Americans, nor the potreros where they learn them, but technique, concentration and more advanced training methods and necessary installations make up for this. The clubs do buy a few expensive foreign stars, but carefully chosen and not in large quantities.
Recent results are there to see — second in 2002 and third in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and at club level, finalists in the 2012 European Champions League and winners (Bayern Munich) of the last one, while that club has also just won the Club World Cup. Of course, German clubs do not go wildly into the transfer market, spending money they have not got, to change half their team for the mistaken reason of strengthening it from one championship to the next.
One other thing — clubs which cannot pay their way go bankrupt and are closed.