Brazil’s Appeal Overseas

This post by a sports economist is about the potential conflict between the Brazilian national team’s ability to make money playing friendly games abroad and the necessity that it play games at home in order to adequately prepare for playing in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.  But I think it makes some broad assumptions that don’t make sense to me.  For one:

For any host team, preparation on home soil is essential. As an example from the past, USA played an amazing 88 ‘A’ internationals from 1991 to the start of the 1994 World Cup – 73 of these were friendlies, 54 of which were at home. By contrast, since their final 2010 World Cup Qualifier in October 2009, Brazil have played a total of 25 friendlies of which only three were at home (one of these was with a merely domestic-based line-up).

1) How exactly is preparation on home soil  essential?  Playing at home is an advantage because you don’t have to fly to another foreign country, you can prepare for games by training at your own facilities, and you have an enormous crowd supporting you. Why would a team of world-class professional players need to become accustomed to playing with these kind of advantages?  Teams need preparation for playing in disadvantageous situations, not advantageous ones.

2) I don’t think you can compare the Brazlian national team to the US national team.  For one, the US didn’t necessarily play 54 friendlies out of 88 at home because they needed to get used to playing in the US.  It’s probably because there were a lot of foreign teams who were anxious to experience playing in the US in preparation for the World Cup, and I’m guessing it might have made financial sense for the US to have them come here rather than us go to them.  Who knows, maybe teams were fighting to get to play in the US which meant the US could pick and choose their opponents according to the caliber and style of play that would best prepare them for the World Cup.  Which brings me to me third point:

3) Many of Brazil’s national team players are not based in Brazil, and in fact a majority of the elite Brazilian players play for teams in Europe for most of the year.  Of the most recent squad, 12 players were based in Europe and 10 in Brazil.  If you hold your friendlies in Brazil, that means longer plane flights and potentially less time training for these players.  If you hold a couple friendlies in England and Belgium, or in countries that similarly close, then these players are only an hour or two away, and you don’t deal with jet lag.

Which is not say that this Liam Lenten is wrong, but I think the basic economic tension described here is overly simplistic.







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