How Imports Help Soccer

Dani Rodrik has a post today on the

globalization of soccer, and poses what he calls an "interesting question":

One question is what has the presence of foreign players in Europe done to

the quality of the national teams. Following the disappointments of the English

national team in recent games, some have suggested that the culprit is the

dominance of foreign players in the Premier League and have recommended reintroducing


Dani Rodrik, meet Chris


Blatter says: "When you have 11 foreigners in a team, this is not good

for the development of football."

But this confuses

cause and effect. Arsenal having 11 foreigners in their team is the effect

of English footballers being rubbish – Paul Robinson is England goalkeeper,

remember – not the cause of it.

Indeed, importing foreigners can be a way of improving the domestic game.

Just as foreign investment helps improve the productivity of indiginous firms

by showing them how to improve so foreign players can show domestic ones the

way. Any player who trained with Cantona, Zola or Bergkamp will say that they

learned a lot from doing so.

Dillow’s entirely right. The England team might be crap these days, but it

would surely be worse were it not for the large number of excellent footballers

playing in the Premier League.

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