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WHAT HAS HELPED OPEN UP THE WORLD CUP FOR SMALLER NATIONS? THE FREE MARKET!

This is an amazing World Cup.  Switzerland (one of my favorite foreign lands) upset Spain, Serbia defeated Germany, and New Zealand (That’s right, New Zealand!) tied heavily favored Italy.  Chile, who several years ago was truly awful, is now a rising star of the World Cup. 

The reason for this:  Gabriele Marcotti writes for the WSJ that it was the free market that opened up this World Cup to smaller nations.  He cites a EU court decision that forced the pro soccer teams in the EU to in effect have free agency:

But the process has been greatly accelerated by the so-called Bosman ruling in 1996, which shook the game to its foundation and whose effects are still felt today. Jean-Marc Bosman was an otherwise unremarkable Belgian midfielder who took his case to the European Court of Justice arguing that footballers had the same rights as other workers in the European Union, including the right to free agency at the end of contracts and the right to work for any employer within the EU.

In what has to be an irony on several levels for me (An EU court handing down a pro-liberty decision; smaller nations, many of whom are ultra statists in economic and political liberty levels benefiting from a liberty decision) we have an example of what can happen in a free market.  Marcotti reports that in the old days, there was only one or two players on some national teams outside of their own pro leagues:

Back in 1978, when Tunisia beat Mexico 3-1 to become the first African team ever to win a World Cup game, 20 of the 22 players on the roster plied their trade domestically and the two who did not were hardly in top leagues (one in Saudi Arabia and another in Belgium).

But today, due to Jean-Marc Bosman (Soccer’s Curt Flood!  Flood was the baseball player who sued MLB to establish free agency) and an EU court, we have more liberty.  And liberty always makes things better!

Slovenia, which leads the USA’s group, has all but two of its players abroad, many in quality leagues like the Bundesliga or Serie A. It’s a pattern throughout the World Cup. Just look at West Africa: Ghana has three domestically-based players, Cameroon two, Nigeria and Ivory Coast none.

Time for sports fans to hug that tea party, Ron Paul libertarian in your office or neighborhood.  Liberty is on the march and one result is the soccer world is not dominated by traditional powers.  Marcotti concludes it best:

While it’s safe to say that one of the traditional powers is still likely to triumph in South Africa, don’t expect too many gaudy scorelines, like Hungary’s 10-1 win over El Salvador in 1982 or Yugoslavia’s 9-0 hammering of Zaire in 1974. Score this one for the free marketeers.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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