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from Breakingviews:

German soccer glory was predictable – with luck

By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Brazil’s World Cup was first-rate entertainment thanks to its many surprising results. For its part Breakingviews, also somewhat surprisingly, predicted that Germany would win the competition as long ago as last Christmas.

Many media pundits, and some respected financial institutions such as investment bank Goldman Sachs or global accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers, also braved the World Cup prediction challenge. They deployed a dizzying variety of sporting and non-sporting criteria. The consensus was that Brazil, the host nation, would triumph.

Breakingviews kept its focus on the numbers, shunning direct reference to the teams’ sporting prowess. We looked for simple demographic and financial factors that, in logic, would produce a winner. So we rated the World Cup teams according to population, participation, fan base and squad value. Why? We assumed that good soccer teams would come from populous countries with a large base of players. And that it would help if the game had produced big stars basking in the adulation of fans. A market-derived view of player quality also seemed sensible.

from Breakingviews:

If only Argentine economy matched soccer success

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If only the Argentine economy’s success matched that of its soccer team. The nation’s strong World Cup showing, making it into the final against Germany, reflects astute management of its big fan base and valuable on-field talent. That contrasts with a 100-year record of wasting its human and natural resources. It’s not too late: Avoiding policy own-goals could one day make Argentina an economic champion.

from Photographers' Blog:

The people’s game

Sao Paulo, Brazil

By Eddie Keogh

Former Liverpool F.C. manager Bill Shankly once said: "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

I think that he may have learnt that in Brazil.

Brazil's soccer fans watch their team play against Chile during a 2014 World Cup round of 16 game, in a restaurant in Sao Paulo June 28, 2014. Brazil won the match. Picture taken June 28. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

I am covering the 2014 World Cup, and to capture the action, I usually sit by the side of the pitch.

from Breakingviews:

Evonik in $400 mln soccer deal it doesn’t need

By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Evonik’s 300 million euro ($400 million) tie-up with Bundesliga soccer team Borussia Dortmund (BVB) has little merits for the company’s shareholders. Germany’s third-largest chemical company hopes that the alliance with the club will turn its brand into a global household name. The snag is that Evonik doesn’t do any business with end users.

from Photographers' Blog:

The soccer ball as protagonist

Brasilia, Brazil

By Ueslei Marcelino

Most Brazilians, rich or poor, are passionate about soccer. But that’s not to say that this love of the sport permanently unites the nation - recent protests over the World Cup have made that clear.

Brazilian society still suffers from class division and there is a wide gap between the wealthy and the less well-off. It seems to me that we Brazilians are not one people, but for a short while, whenever the national team plays, we can pretend we are.

from Breakingviews:

Numbers show Germany will beat Brazil to World Cup

By Robert Cole and Peter Thal Larsen

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Germany is on course to dash Brazil’s World Cup dream. The football-mad host nation has cruised into the knock-out stages of the global soccer jamboree, while rivals like Spain have gone home early. But Germany will see off Brazil in the semi-final, before going on to lift the trophy by defeating Argentina in the final.

from Breakingviews:

Spexit comes two years late

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

The unthinkable has happened. Spain stayed in the euro but exited the World Cup in the early group stages. The negative correlation with the economy is striking. Spain’s national side has modernised less rapidly than its economic policy in recent years.

from Breakingviews:

Brazil’s companies need soccer team’s global clout

By Dominic Elliott

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Brazil’s corporate squad pales beside its soccer stars. The country’s national football side has unquestioned world-class quality in almost every position on the pitch. Yet if there were a World Cup for businesses, Brazil would struggle to get past the group stage.

from John Lloyd:

Corruption predates the World Cup, but it doesn’t have to live past it

An aerial shot shows the Arena Fonte Nova  stadium, one of the stadiums hosting the 2014 World Cup soccer matches, in Salvador

Crooked sports didn’t begin with FIFA or the World Cup. The truth is, the fix has been in since the beginning of time.

The first recorded example was Eupolos of Thessalia, who bribed three of his competitors in a boxing bout to take a dive during the Olympic Games of 388 BC. It must have been a big bribe, since one of those fudging the match was the formidable Phormion of Halikarnassos, the reigning champion.

from Breakingviews:

Investors cheer for Brazil World Cup rout

By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

At the opening of the Confederations Cup in Brasilia a year ago, President Dilma Rousseff was booed by thousands of soccer fans for all of Brazil to see. It’s easy to understand then why she isn’t planning to speak at Thursday’s opening ceremony of the World Cup. An embarrassing turn as host of Earth’s biggest sporting event - or crushing repeat of the 1950 Maracanaço - may be the greatest obstacle to her clinching a second term.

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