martes, 7 de abril de 2009

La globalización (a veces) no se mancha

Simpático el artículo de Dani Rodrik que recientemente encontramos en su blog. Veamos cómo el turco -que no es Asís- utiliza a la pasión de multitudes para presentar los potenciales beneficios de la globalización. Fobal!! Fobal!! Foobaaall!!!


Globalization and the Beautiful GameEnlace

March 2008

How does globalization reshape wealth and opportunity around the world? Is it mainly a force for good, enabling poor nations to lift themselves up from poverty by taking part in global markets? Or is it mainly an unequalizing force, creating vast opportunities for a small minority while leaving the rest out in the cold?

If you want to understand these questions, look no further than soccer. Ever since European clubs loosened restrictions on the number of foreign players, the game has become truly global. African players, in particular, have become ubiquitous on the scene, supplementing the usual retinue of Brazilians and Argentines. Indeed, the foreign presence in soccer surpasses anything that we see in other areas of international commerce. Arsenal, which currently tops the English Premier League, has a first eleven that typically does not include a single British player. If you put together all the English players on the roster of the four English clubs which recently advanced to the final 16 of the UEFA Champions’ League, you would hardly be able to field a single team.

There is little doubt that foreign players greatly enhance the quality of play in the European club championships. Europe's soccer scene would not be half as exciting without strikers such as Cote d’Ivoire’s Didier Drogba (playing with Chelsea) or Cameroun’s Samuel Eto'o (with Barcelona). The benefits to African talent are easy to see too. African players are able to earn much more money by marketing their skills to European clubs—not just the top clubs in the Premiership or the Spanish Primera Liga, but the countless nouveau-riche clubs in Russia, Ukraine or Turkey.
Sure, the international mobility of soccer players has no doubt increased the earnings gap between stars such as Drogba and Eto’o and their compatriots back home. This is part and parcel of globalization too: enhanced global economic opportunities lead to wider disparities between those who have the skill or the luck to take advantage of these opportunities, and those who do not. But this kind of inequality is not necessarily a bad thing. It makes some people better off without making others worse off.

So is soccer globalization win-win? Not necessarily, because soccer enthusiasts care about country as well as club, and here the consequences of the global mobility of talent are not as straightforward. Many fear that the quality of national teams is affected negatively by the availability of foreign players. Why invest in breeding grounds for local talent if you can simply hire them from abroad?

England once again provides an apt illustration. Many have blamed the country’s failure to qualify for this summer’s European national championship on the preponderance of foreign players in English club teams. And there is a broader backlash under way as well. Sepp Blatter, the president of soccer’s global governing body (FIFA), has been pushing a plan to introduce quotas on the number of foreign players that club teams would be allowed to have on the field: he wants no more than five.

What about the impact on African countries? What has the exodus of players done to their domestic leagues and the enjoyment of African fans? No doubt the globalization of soccer has increased the quality of many African national teams relative to European national teams. After all, countries such as Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire nowadays field teams that include some of the very top players in European clubs. On the other hand, globalization probably also has reduced the quality of domestic leagues in Africa relative to club play in Europe.

Is the typical resident of Yaoundé better or worse off as a result? The decline in the quality of domestic play is perhaps not a big deal if you can afford a cable connection that allows you to tune in to the English Premier League every weekend. But otherwise, you are entitled to feel that globalization has left you out in the cold.

The 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, held in Ghana during January and February, revealed the two-way interdependence that the globalization of soccer has created. Many European clubs were left without their star players, as those players were called on to national-team duty. For their part, the African players grumbled that their absence from Europe reduced their commercial opportunities during a crucial period of league play.

But the most important lesson revealed by the Africa Cup is that successful nations are those that combine globalization’s opportunities with strong domestic foundations. For the winner of the cup was not Cameroun or Cote d’Ivoire or any of the other African teams with loads of star players from European leagues, but Egypt—a country where only 4 players (out of a roster of 23) play in Europe. By contrast, Cameroun, whom Egypt beat in the final, featured just a single player from a domestic club, and 20 from European clubs. Few of the Egyptian players would have been familiar to Europeans who watched that game, but Egypt played much better and deserved to win. And it wasn’t a fluke either: Egypt is the most successful national team in the tournament, and had won the African cup five times previously.

The lesson is not that embracing globalized soccer is a bad thing. If that was the key, Sudan, which has no players in Europe, would have done really well. Instead, it was the least successful team of the tournament (along with Benin), losing all three games it played.

The real lesson is that if you are going to take full advantage of globalization, you need to develop domestic capabilities along with international links. What makes the difference for Egypt is that the country has a strong domestic league, which fosters depth of talent and coherence as a national team.

And so it is with the champions of globalizations in other arenas. What sets apart the Chinas and Indias of this world is not that they have laid themselves bare to the forces of globalization, but that they have used those forces to enhance their domestic industrial and productive capacities. The benefits of globalization come to those that do their homework.

Dani Rodrik

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