Date
18 October 2017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses with Germany's World Cup-winning soccer squad after their victory over Portugal. Photo: Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses with Germany's World Cup-winning soccer squad after their victory over Portugal. Photo: Reuters

When everyone’s a World Cup winner

Angela Merkel does look happy. In the locker room surrounded by a German World Cup squad in various sartorial states, the German chancellor looks every bit the winner. And with good reason.

A soccer fan of some standing, Merkel has been described as the team’s lucky charm and its 12th “man”. Her appearances in Brazil have also rubbed off on her standing at home. The Telegraph reports that Merkel’s conservative party have had a slight uptick in ratings in recent weeks thanks to her showings in Rio.

It’s at least three years until Germans head to the polls for another federal election so the Brazil bump is not about to be of much electoral benefit. But her Christian Democrat Union will need all the help it can get given that Merkel plans to resign before 2017.

The other winners in the picture are, of course, the individual players. They may have gone there as a team but they each collect 300,000 euros (US$408,000) for turning Messi into the saddest person to have ever been named the World Cup’s most valuable player.

But the biggest winner of all could be the “Made in Germany” brand. Bloomberg quotes Christian Boellhoff from research institute Prognos as saying that the win will have a “strengthening influence on German exports.”

“While you can’t calculate this in detail, it can have a positive influence on work motivation and confidence in producing quality,” Boellhoff said.

The win is certainly a reflection of the lessons learned from devastating loss. After Germany ended the 2000 European Championship with exacting one goal and the wooden spoon in the group stage, the burghers of the Bundesliga decided to go back to grass roots and start cultivating talent from the bottom up.

All of the top professional teams were told to build youth academies and hire dedicated coaches to nurture potential. Money and more money was put into a youth system that went so far as the under-12s. The results of that effort are being seen today. The Germans may not have found a Messi or a Neymar but they have created a side of extraordinary depth that can keep replacing players while the opposition tires.

Sunday’s win is proof, if any were needed, that Germany was right on the money.

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SK

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