Either there has been a grave decline among South American nations or a major improvement in the Europeans.
The FIFA World Cup sees the top national teams from every habitable continent vying to be adjudged as the world champions. Teams from Africa, Asia, Europe and the two American continents, along with a representative from Oceania take part in the tournament.
Europe’s reign over football at the international stage, especially the World Cup is an open secret. Countries from Europe have won the last three World Cups, Italy in 2006, Spain in 2010 and Germany in 2014. In fact, European teams have won five of the last seven tournaments and that is evident in their towering dominance. So, what’s the secret ingredient that enables European countries to perform so well at the World Cup?
Italy lifting the FIFA World Cup in 2006
The most obvious reason is that Europe is the home to the world’s biggest leagues. Every player on the planet dreams of playing for a top European side, at the highest level. This, in turn, develops the level of skill and fitness of the European players.
Hefty amounts are being paid to achieve optimum conditioning of the players and the overall quality of the infrastructure goes a long way to ensuring this. Hence, every four years, there are young prodigies taking the field for European teams.
Another aspect at which European countries lead the world in is the development of their home-grown talent. The number of elite academies in Europe are greater than in any other continent. These established academies identify and produce exceptional talent and have set a benchmark for other nations to aspire to.
European players, from a very young age are exposed to state-of-the-art facilities and coaching programs. They play alongside the best players at the biggest clubs from a very young age, something that only a handful of non-European players are exposed to.
The only other continent that comes anywhere close to challenging Europe’s dominance is South America, where countries like Brazil and Argentina produce naturally gifted players with exquisite touch on the ball and an unmatched passion for the game.
Spain lifting the FIFA World Cup in 2010
This World Cup has become more of a European tournament since the semi-final lineup consists of four teams from the continent. With Brazil the last non-European team being eliminated, it was confirmed that the crown will again stay in Europe for the fourth time running.
Of the 14 teams that represented Europe at the World Cup, 10 managed to qualify from the group stages after dismal performances. 10 teams from Europe, four from South America and one each from Asia and North America completed the list of teams that qualified for the Round of 16. With those odds, Europe was always favored to retain the title.
Germany lifting the FIFA World Cup in 2014
With Europe’s dominance over world football ensured for at least another four years, it will be interesting to see if there will ever be a World Cup winner from outside of Europe or South America, in the next few decades. Looking at the massive gap in the standard of football on display between European and non-European nations in Russia, it is safe to say that Europe will likely continue to rule football at the international level for the foreseeable future.