Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why Hasn't Asia Won A World Cup?

The World Cup: The Complete HistoryIt is understandable that since the World Cup 2010 is in Africa this year, there is a greater focus on the record achievements of Africa teams. This focus though is not unique to this year's cup. Every four years we anxiously place our bets on which country will realistically win the cup this year, and then place out bets idealistically to see which African team may bring home the trophy for the first time. Yet, World Cup after World Cup  we see repeated performances with familiar conversations about why an African country has not won the cup. Year after year, African teams are analyzed, individual players assessed whilst Asian teams rarely get mentioned and virtually go unnoticed. It is as if no one expects Asians to excel in soccer but everyone expects Africans to excel in soccer. One can examine how preconception may be a contributing factor to this particular question.

Albeit athleticism being a positive stereotype, it is a double edged sword for Africa- on one hand it speaks volumes that a continent that reveres soccer and produces top class players, has yet to win a tournament. So we do need to inquire about the lack of a cup on the continent. At the same time, it speaks volumes of the low expectations of Asian players, who are largely overlooked in terms of competitive sports like soccer, football, basketball, and are not expected to do well which is a stereotype that they have the burden of carrying.  African players, in contrast, are viewed as athletic, and natural athletes who can play the game, but lack the 'discipline', and mental focus to translate that talent to a win.

The continent's 'talented' players are scattered all around the world - it is the one time that visas pursue Africa instead of the other way around. There is an expectation for African players not only to be good at  soccer, but to excel in it, and when this doesn't happen, the world tends to ask, 'why hasn't Africa ever won a World Cup?" to this, I will respond, "well, why hasn't Asia ever won a World Cup?"

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