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By: Chris Onyishi

 Published August  23rd, 2010

From the last FIFA World cup 2010 tournament in South African, comes yet another indication of the benefits of the round lather game. It seems like it is now possible for social scientists to use world cup tourney to feel the temper of nations and by extension rank the mood and stability, back home, of participating nations.

A team that never scored any goal in the group stage shows a very unstable, dysfunctional, unhappy and disorganized nation back home at the time of the tournament. This state of the nation is then carried over into the sub consciousness of the participating team and erodes the team spirit which is much needed in soccer; leading to abysmal performance . If we go by this assumption, it will look like nations such as France, Nigeria and Cameroun were having some problems at home during the FIFA organized World Cup tournament in South Africa between Jun 11 and July 11 2010. The hopelessness of the French nation was depicted by the attitude of the players as epitomized by the action of their captain.

In the other hand, a teem that scored some goals at the group stage but could not advance to the next stage reveals very troubled nation back home. Going by this assumption, again, it would appear that USA and Britain were having some skirmishes back home at the time of the tournament.

Whereas USA was battling with Gulf of Mexico oil gush and containment of the runaway General, Britain was battling with austerity measure which did not even spare her Monarch.


On the other hand, teems such as Argentina, Portugal, W. Germany, Uruguay, etc depicted nations that are still enjoying some measurable stability at home. The football handlers of these nations seem to be enjoying free hand in running of their football. Maradona of Argentina seemed to be single handedly determining what happens with Argentine world cup team. This may not be far from what obtains in Portugal and W. Germany at the time of the tournament.

Black Stars of Ghana’s beating of USA’s Stars and Stripes, to advance to the next stage, clearly showed that Ghana was more peaceful and stable than the USA at the time of the 2010 FIFA World cup tournament in South Africa.

What was baffling was why none of the South American flag bearers that showed an early good start did not get to the quarter finals. As for the African teams, there is not much surprise - even though the tourney was in their soil - because generally speaking African rulers have not realized that there is a connection between good governance and national development.

In the Nigerian case, what the President Goodluck Jonathan lead government did was to try to ban her flag bearers in the tournament for two years from international engagements, a decision which they rescinded as hastily as they did in taking it. One would have expected a pragmatic leader to try and discover a relationship between the team’s abysmal performance and their psyche, which is governed by actions of government; good or bad and which President Jonathan is the arrow head. A good question President Jonathan should have asked himself before the hasty ban was, is the team’s abysmal performance directly related to his own abysmal performance at home or the dysfunctional state of affairs within the Nigerian political space?

The President of Nigeria wanted to use Nigerian’s extremism in soccer to score cheap point but, unfortunately, it back fired due to pressure from FIFA and murmuring within the polity.

In order to circumvent these direct impact of state mood on the players’ well being and fitness, football handlers should learn to start insulating their teams from the happenings back home when once they are out of their countries. Psychologists could be employed to handle the team mates while government representatives should come to camp to give a tainted picture of the true state of the home affairs as different from what the players left. A tainted picture clearly indicates that the nation is not doing well.

So after the tournament, the nations whose flag bearers came out with impressive performances and results - as a result of the tainted picture - should try to fulfill and accommodate in their respective countries those pictures that were used to give their teams a stabilizing impetus.

All these will culminate in using soccer as a tool for national development.

Chris Onyishi
Enugu State, Nigeria

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