Who Really Won the World Cup?

The World Cup is over! Over! Over! And the winners are… well who were the actual winners?

Thirty-two Countries started, only one finished!

I’m not talking about Spain, while they were the winners, did they benefit the most from this tournament? South Africa? We’ll see, time will tell if the world will open up its eyes to South Africa, the richest country on the continent, but also one where the difference in wealth is greater. Of course numerous newspapers and other sources sang along to this tune throughout the tournament and I don’t really have enough info to go into it now (most recent of which was an article by Tom Humpheries in The Irish Times, a pretty picture is not painted).

So the winners… I thought about this a bit. Who really came out on top? Well, being an optimist I said to myself, it was a relatively good World Cup, sure, didn’t lots of big shots get knocked out early because they couldn’t play well together and expected individuals to win? Smaller teams played their hearts out and got rewarded, like Paraguay, Uruguay, United States, South Korea, and Ghana. There were also lots of upsets to keep the neutral interested! I commented earlier about the makeup of the German and Spanish teams and why they did better than say Italy and possibly England. Of course, after a little more research it turns out that not one Champions League winning player from Inter Milan made it onto the Italian national team. But, of course all my arguments about team solidarity were kind of rubbished by the Dutch squad, who made it to the final and could have beaten Spain if they didn’t spend the whole match kicking the opposition. Their team was of a similar demographic to many of the other leading teams… so there goes my point in that previous post. Fortunately Spain won so I can still stick to it a little.

So the winners… well in the modern age (whatever that is) football is run by money, money and more money. The best players want to be paid the best and they want to play in the best league. Of the thirty-two teams that started the World Cup and the seven hundred and thirty six players who played, four national leagues were prominent. So if the best players in the world are at the World Cup, surely they all play in the best leagues. So that would make the four national leagues of England, Germany, Italy and Spain the best leagues in the world.

These four leagues dominated the World Cup finals. For starters, Italy, Germany and England were the only teams in the tournament that didn’t have players that played their football outside of their respective national leagues; even North Korea had two or three players who played football in Japan. My numbers may be a little off but I’m quite sure this is accurate; altogether three hundred and thirty players play their football in these four leagues. That’s almost half the players at the entire World Cup.

England was represented best with one hundred and seven players, Germany came second with eighty-nine, Italy third with seventy-eight, and Spain dawdled in last with a creditable fifty-six representatives. If you take away twenty three from each team (or twenty in the case of Spain, they had three players who played in England), that still leaves all four teams with a very high percentage of the overall World Cup players contingent.

These are pretty big figures. I have more. Germany and England both tied on the number of countries players came from, twenty-five each. Countries that had players playing in the Bundesliga were a little more obscure than those who played in the Premiership, and there were a lot of cases where one player played in Germany, while the representative numbers in England were a lot higher. To be exact, England had only three cases where one player from a country played in the England, while in Germany there were nine cases.

That would, you might think, make the English and German leagues the winners, with Italy and Spain coming in a close third and fourth. It’s logical right, more players, better league, more popular with players…

Well it doesn’t.

No matter how many players played in any league, theirs is only one league with twenty World Cup 2010 winning players. Just because everyone else does something doesn’t mean it’s the best.

Spain and only Spain are the winners.

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