World Cup: Global Is Not Dead!

By Shlomo Maital  

       Recently, on CNN,  Israeli historian and author Yuval Noah-Harari (“Sapiens: a Brief History of Mankind”) noted that contrary to the experts, ‘global world’ is not dead.  He points to the FIFA World Cup, where 32 nations gather to compete, under accepted rules, despite huge differences among them (Iran, US, Serbia, Cameroon).  Yes, there are frictions – the German team members cover their mouths, the England squad want their captain to wear a rainbow armband – and FIFA is a notoriously corrupt organization —   but the games go on anyway.

     Rory Smith, my favorite soccer journalist, notes in the New York Times that 130 players in the World cup event, across 32 teams, represent a country other than that of their birth.  Each of the 32 competing national teams has 26 players, including three goalkeepers.  That means, fully 15% of all players play for a country where they were not born.  For example, Cameroon striker Mbeumo, a wonderful player, born in England and starring for lowly Brentford in the Premier League.  He can play for Cameroon, because his father was born in Cameroon.  Smith notes that five members of Ghana’s dynamic squad were born elsewhere. 

     Nationalism can be an emotional force spurring conflict and even war.  It has in the past.  When national boundaries are blurred – is Mbeumo Cameroon? African?  British?  Both —   nationalism diminishes, and globalism – the understanding that we are citizens of a global interdependent world — increases.