Does soccer explain the world?

Euro 2012 begins this Friday. It is a 16-team tournament, held every four years, to crown a national soccer team as the champion of Europe. I will be reporting on the tournament from time to time.

It happens that Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain — the so-called PIGS nations whose sovereign debt crises are said to be the most acute in Europe — are all competing at Euro 2012. Ireland will be there too (for those who spell it PIIGS), though last I heard, Ireland had dealt with its financial crisis to the point that the country may be able to finance itself without any external support going forward.

I’m not a big believer that “soccer explains the world.” However, some of the PIGS nations are notorious for cheating at soccer (e.g., diving in the penalty area in the absence of contact to steal a penalty kick or writhing around in feigned agony after minor contact in the hope of causing the ref to show an opponent a yellow card). I’m thinking especially of Italy (which is also in the middle of another match-fixing scandal) and Portugal (led by Chritiano “dive in a minute” Ronaldo).

It will be interesting to see if such a correlation holds up at Euro 2012.


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