Waiting for our team to win World Cup
By : Saad Dossari
Within a few days, most of the people across the world will be gathering around their television sets to watch 32 nations competing for the World Cup on the playgrounds of Brazil.
Depending on one’s perspective, call it the magic of or the craziness for football that brings the whole world together. After every four years, history is updated and new records are made. This is a special event when victories are lived, defeats suffered, people shed tears of joy and pain and screams and hugs are shared. Tales of love and glory are born on these playing fields and fame and fortune follow thereafter.
It is fascinating to see that while the whole world is passionately awaiting the start of the games, Brazilians themselves are not. A research by Pew Research Center (published in the New York Times) found that 61 percent of the respondents see the World Cup as bad for the country because it is taking funds from health and education projects. Only 34 people consider this mega event as an economic opportunity. Furthermore, after about a year of huge protests denouncing the World Cup organization, 47 percent consider those demonstrations good for bringing to light important issues facing the country, while 48 percent consider it damaging to the country’s image internationally. 35 percent see the World Cup as a good chance to enhance the country’s image, 39 percent expect it to worsen the image even further, and 23 percent were of the view that it would make no difference.
For Saudis, besides paying huge amount of money to the broadcasting channel, which will stick to certain receivers just before the World Cup, we will be cheering for other nations’ teams. We will be divided between the superpowers in football: Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Spain, England, France, and Italy. The Arab representative, Algeria, will also be remembered in our prayers.
Our own team will not be there. We have not been able to make it to the World Cup since 2006. In modern sports, where creating a team capable of competing on an international level is an industry in itself, we do not do well, for one reason or another, it is out of our league.
For a wealthy nation that loves football, our inability to make a strong international presence in the game is puzzling. Our players might have talents, we are able to build modern infrastructure, but we simply lack the vision. We might like to call our local clubs and league professional, but everything surrounding them is screaming of immaturity.
The ways in which the league is managed, the way clubs are administrated are nothing but scrambled individual efforts and power struggles.
The manner in which we manage our sports, we are shortsighted, looking for a quick win, the shortest path to victory; that’s why a coach is usually averaged at one season whether we are talking about clubs or the national team, our efforts in maintaining and building youth academies are fruitless, our referees are below mediocre and our sports press is soaked with unprofessionalism.
Being to the World Cup four times (from 1994 to 2006) does not mean we were performing better; I might be going out on a limb here when I say it was nothing but a bit of luck and enthusiasm rather than systematic and planned efforts. The evidence comes in the result of those participations; we played 13 games (W: 2, D:2, L:9), we only scored 9 goals and we received 32 goals.
What I am saying here might be harsh, I might be exaggerating, but an overdose of truth is better than lubricity. In order to change, we have to look to the future, build for it, strategize, create a system, apply it equally on everybody, review and modify. We need a shuffle on how we manage our clubs, how to finance them, and how to operate them.
Paying more attention to youth is mandatory, reorganizing how we choose and compensate referees is a must and redefining sports journalism is unavoidable. We will not be the first to do such things, Japan and South Korea are amongst the latest nations who have revolutionized their sports industries, we could use their experience, and the wheel is already there. It is just a waste of time to think of reinventing.