Is this World Cup moving football’s future further east?

Football’s global nature has always been the reason for its popularity.

Football is widely played in almost every country. However, there is no other sport that has the same appeal as the international football community. World Cup draws occur every four years.

However, there seems to be something more at the World Cup in Qatar: The epicenter of a sport that was dominated by teams from Europe, South America and the United States throughout modern history could be shifting to the east.

This is the first time that four teams from Asia or Africa have qualified for knockout stage. Five if Australia is included.

The top four teams in the world have been upset by teams from these two continents: Cameroon beat Brazil (22nd), Morocco beat Belgium (22nd), and Saudi Arabia (51st), shocked Argentina and Tunisia (30th). France was stunned.

As if that weren’t enough, Japan (24th), beat Germany (11th), and South Korea (28) beat Portugal (ninth).

Tuesday’s round of 16 saw Morocco beat Spain, ranked seventh. All this was happening during the World Cup in the Middle East

So, what is the cause of this massive slaughter?

Moroccan fans have flocked here to see their culture. World Cup [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

European exposure

These emerging countries have been working hard to improve their football structures. The national teams have players in some the most competitive European teams, which gives them valuable exposure.

These players, whether it’s Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal) from Japan, Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), or Achraf Hakimi, a Moroccan hero (Paris Saint-Germain), have fought against the best.

“One of Japan’s greatest historical problems as a national team is that they have played with too much respect to higher-ranking opposition and it has cost them winable outcomes on big stages,” stated Dan Orlowitz, a sportswriter for the Japan Times. . “The greatest advantage for the team is having so many European players is that they are constantly up against world-class opposition.”

At the 1998 Olympics, Japan’s squad was different World Cup, the Qatari soccer team, has players playing in the major European leagues. “You don’t have to fear Germany and Spain if you’re used to playing them in different uniforms,” ​​he said, “and that fearlessness is a big factor behind Japan’s victories.”

Al Jazeera
Japanese fans at Al Janoub stadium [Reuters]

The same applies to Arab and African countries.

Morocco’s squad boasts the most foreign-born players at the tournament. World Cup. While not many people play in Europe’s top clubs, the dual nationality rules of the country allow it to attract the best talent from all over the world. diaspora to tap.

Base for clubs

Orlowitz is convinced that Japan’s performance before the loss to Croatia also reflects the growth of the game at grassroots level – in particular the establishment of youth academies “capable of producing world-class talent on a regular basis”.

Orlowitz mentions Project DNA as a critical initiative. It was created by the J.League to “to codify best practices, develop coaches and staff who are able to support these academies,” said Orlowitz.

The World Cup has also revealed the success stories of Saudi Arabia’s club structure. Most of the players that stunned Argentina 2-1 in the tournament played for Al Hilal. The Club reached the semi-finals with the Saudi club. World Cup in February, but then lost against Chelsea. A transfer to Al Nassr, another club in Saudi Arabia that is dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo, has been suggested.

South Korea, which reached 16 like Japan, may have also benefited from their domestic league, K League, which ended in the early part of the year and allowed a short training camp for their national team. Most European competitions overlap. World Cup this year.

A South Korea fan hangs a banner from the stands [Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters]

Global game, global fans

This, however, is not the only thing. World Cup is also targeted at East Asian fans.

“The feasibility in terms price and distance for Asian countries has helped to bring unprecedented number of fans from the continent” said Chelston Pinto (conditioning coach and player at Indian football club Bengaluru United). He To attend the Qatari Olympic Games, I came to Qatar. World Cup as a fan.

“World Cups are a unique experience and I’m sure Asian fans didn’t want it to be missed,” Pinto said.

Hayya Card holders who hold match tickets are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter Qatar. The cost of flights to Asia is lower and the distance between them and other countries is less. Many African and Asian countries have good connections to the Middle East.

The 2018 World Cup in Russia: More Chinese than English cardholders, even though China had failed the qualification and England were the favourites. Current World Cup, Saudi Arabians and Indians submitted more applications for Qatar entry permits.

All of this coincides well with the increasing attention that major European clubs give to the Asian market. After All, fans from non-league countries can follow footballers as they cheer on their favorite European clubs throughout the year.

Manchester United visited Thailand and Australia earlier this year, while Liverpool played Crystal Palace, Singapore. Tottenham Hotspur travelled to South Korea to see Son Heung-min, their talisman striker.

The traditional elite of European football seem to be realizing that the future of the game is shifting east. The success of Asian teams and African teams at the World Cup in Qatar, and the passion of their supporters will probably only accelerate this process.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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