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The FIFA World Cup: How to make sure you fail at Football.

The most basic of all concepts in high performance sport (and art and other areas of human endeavour) is that you do things as an extension of your national culture – or in simple terms “you play like your place”.

Brazilians play football like Brazilians.
Italians play football like Italians.
Germans play football like Germans.

Happens in hockey. Happens in football. Happens in the Olympic sports. Happens in all sports. You play like the culture that made you, that grew you, that developed you.

Same principle applies to football clubs (in all codes) – each football club culture produces a unique playing style, a unique trademark of playing that reflects the people, the places and the processes of their culture.

So hiring any foreign coach to come in and aim to teach one nation to play football like another nation is absolute stupidity.

Until each nation accepts that they need to take a long term approach, grow their own unique way of playing, i.e. their own unique trademark brand of football, they can never win at World Cup level.

Look at the handful of nations who have won the Football World Cup. They play a unique style / trademark of football, they back their players and coaches to deliver it and they persist at mastering it over the long term.

Here’s a sure bet: most nations – i.e. the ones who keep failing at World Cup level will shortly announce the appointment of a German head coach or Brazilian head coach or a head coach from one of the other top 16 Football World Cup nations, hire them for the next four years, and once again give them the mandate to create a foreign football culture in their “adopted” home.

If the team makes it to the Football World Cup finals in 2014, they will fail again and the cycle will continue: new imported coach, new imported football culture. 2018 same story. And then they will fail in 2022.

Every nation must develop it’s own unique  playing style, grow it and nurture it from the grass roots up and then take on the world with the same passion, determination, unique style and cultural qualities that drives the success of the nation in other fields of endeavour.

Failure at the FIFA World Cup is not the fault of the coach, the players, the fans or the Clubs: it’s the responsibility of the national football leadership.

The question you must ask of your nation’s football leadership must be, “When will we seriously commit to growing our own unique football playing style – one that is truly representative of all of us as a nation – and one that can provide us with the opportunity to be competitive against the rest of the world?”

Let me know how they answer.

Be Yourself and Back Yourself.

Wayne Goldsmith



  • Jeremy Pryce Posted June 14, 2010 7:52 pm

    I hear you Wayne. I don´t think you can just adopt a “system” and expect better results. The copy is seldom better than the original. At best you may get up to par. BUT, I think there is room for incorporating outside influences into an existing culture. That´s how we expand ourselves. The key would be knowing what needs to be done and why the influence will expand on the present culture.

    Personally I think it´s allright for some national teams to take on a foreign coach for a tournament such as the World Cup. A country may not have enough experience in their own ranks to give them a fighting chance. However, measures should be put in place so that you can benefit from “an expert”. It has to be a learning experience that will be good for the country in the long run.

    12 of the 32 teams in this years World Cup have foreign coaches. I can understand “emerging nations” that go that route, but I don´t understand England…. Having said that, Greece won the European championships with a german coach in 2004. Perhaps the exception to the rule.


    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted June 15, 2010 7:39 am

      Thanks JP.

      I agree of course but seldom do nations or sporting clubs do this coach importing stuff very well.

      I think you need to clearly identify what you do well and what you don’t. Then find coaches (or other professionals) with the specific skills, knowledge and experience to fill in the gaps.

      However what I usually see is clubs and nations who import foreign coaches then give them the mandate to change everything – which is a recipe for disaster.

      Key to me is to clearly identify what your culture actually is (i.e. define who you are and what your playing style is), bring in people who can either grow or sustain your culture and then out prepare, out train and out work your competition.

      Thanks again,


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