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Who Will Win the World Cup?

Spring / Summer 2010 Strategic Futures

Who Will Win the World Cup?


Pablo Policzer

“South Africa, hands down. True, South Africa does not stand a chance against soccer giants like Brazil, Argentina, Spain or Italy. And facing Mexico, Uruguay and France in a very difficult Group A, it will need a miracle to advance to the second round. But this tournament will be South Africa’s to lose. As the first African country to host the World Cup, it is presented with a unique opportunity.

South Africa has been defined in recent decades by the legacy of apartheid and by the problems of poverty, inequality, and crime. These problems are real, and the World Cup will not make them go away. But it will allow the world to see a much more fine-grained picture of South Africa – a complex country with a rich culture and stunning natural beauty.

The key to achieving this will be organization, attendance and, to be sure, goals.

If the games are well organized, people will buy tickets and pack the stadiums. The sight of South African crowds singing and dancing in the stands will do wonders to celebrate the passion of soccer, and to mark Africa as its next natural frontier. South Africa cannot control how many goals are scored, but the high level of competition today, with so many superb teams, promises a feast.

This World Cup will not only be a triumph for South Africa, but it might also go down as one of the best ever – comparable to Mexico’s in 1970 and 1986, Brazil’s in 1950 or Spain’s in 1982. All of these World Cups were held in emerging countries, like South Africa, and each one had deep and lasting impacts on the country and the game. Regardless of who lifts the FIFA trophy on July 11th, South Africa will be the winner in this year’s World Cup.”

» Pablo Policzer is Associate Professor in Political Science and Canada Research Chair in Latin American Politics at the University of Calgary.

Oliver Olah

“Clearly, Germany will make it – again. It has a young and ambitious team. After the focus on the country in the Euro debate, the near triple triumph of Bayern Munich and the latest euphoria about Lena winning the Eurovision contest, Germans are eager to further boost their national ego.”

» Oliver Olah is an attorney with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Frankfurt, Germany.

Thomas Casarella

“England will take the Cup. An Italian manager, arguably the world’s most exciting player, and a keeper with 40 years of life experience – what more could one ask for? They are the most exciting team in the world to watch.

Europeans will, however, not only be following the footie in South Africa on their screens, but also carefully monitoring the stability of their countries’ respective financial systems. European financial institutions are under increased scrutiny, given the crisis in Greece and feared contagion to Spain and the continent at large. Indeed, continuing concerns about global financial stability beg the question: what will global finance look like by the time the World Cup of 2014 kicks off in Brazil?

Financial regulatory reform is afoot in the US – hopefully paving the way for a more stable financial system on this side of the Atlantic. Regulatory reform will limit the risks taken by depository institutions, improve capital standards and ensure that the institutions that rise to the level of ‘systemically significant’ are properly regulated and capitalized. Will the reforms implemented in the US flow through to Europe and continue eastward from there? Given the problems that we are witnessing in the European financial system, and given concerns in the investment community regarding the adequacy of Japanese bank capital levels and Chinese real estate exposure, there are strong arguments that they should. It may very well be the case that higher and more uniform capital standards are essential to a safer, sounder global financial system. And if that is the case, then the reforms underway here in the US give America an edge over Europe and Asia in the race toward financial stability.”

» Thomas Casarella, a former Oxford Varsity Blue in football, is the Deputy Chief Restructuring Officer at the United States Treasury Department. Any views expressed here are entirely his own, and do not at all reflect the views of the United States Treasury Department.

Francis Nordmann

“Spain will win this year’s World Cup in South Africa for the following reasons:

The Spanish team does not suffer from Spain’s 20 percent unemployment rate. The magic within Spain’s team is its capacity to involve every single player, and to circulate the ball all around the field until a strong scoring opportunity presents itself. The team celebrates a modern form of Flamenco, combining Basque, Catalan and traditional Spanish elements of football.

The Spanish players have gained enough international experience through Barcelona’s and Real Madrid’s success in the Champions League. In addition, most of the team’s players participate in the highly competitive national league (La Liga), which also profits from the participation of a substantial number of international stars (including modern footballing geniuses like Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Brazil’s Kaka and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo). Finally, the Spanish orchestra is guided by its well-experienced and clever conductor Del Bosque, who knows how to handle the stars within the team.”

» Francis Nordmann, lawyer and economist, is partner at the Swiss law firm Walder Wyss & Partner AG, and co-head of its real estate department.

Irvin Studin

“Brazil will win, full stop. Argentina or Spain for second. For the record.”

» Irvin Studin is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Global Brief.


(Photo: The Canadian Press/Michael Probst)

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