Lessons for World Leaders from the World Cup

The World Cup is providing great TV, Press and Internet coverage and there-in lies the lessons for World Leaders. Great coverage means bad plays as well as good ones get big coverage. Take the tic-tac-toe passing of the top clubs like Germany, Spain and the Netherlands – all 3 teams are semi-finalists. But bad play gets covered too and often from 2-3 angles. Take the officiating – blown goal calls [think England’s lost goal against Germany and the US against Slovenia]; wrestling mayhem on corner and free kicks in the box; late tackles mixed with great thespian dives; shirt, pants and arm holding and/or shoves, etc. With one referee to cover a 120m by 45m field – there is plenty of room for error. And fans all over the World are seeing this in HDTV with instant replay live on TV or in You Tube replays on the Internet. FIFA is going to have to do a lot better on officiating or see the its Championships like the 2008 World Junior Football Championships in Toronto become crass spectacles of mass deception.

Likewise World Leaders cannot discount the wave that is high definition TV and the Internet. If the TV and Print Press don’t get the story right – and it is hard to dodge these two sources sometimes wobbly aim – then the Internet with it tens of millions of blogs, tweets, and searches will reveal the underlying current of truth. Senator John Edwards saw his once presidential ambitions become the butt of paternity jokes. Israel has seen its low credibility in negotiations with Palestinians sink to new depths with the continuing Israeli settlements on West Bank territory and then the ham-fisted land followed by sea attacks against Gaza’s Palestinians. Now Israel is perceived by America’s top leaders as a liability in its war on terror. Finally, China has had 12 suicides at the Foxconn plant plus other labor strikes at nearly a dozen sites throughout China as low cost workers strike against minimal wages that are not even matching the rate of Chinese inflation.

In sum, World Leaders have still not come to terms with a)the speed and spread with which stories unfold on the Web and b)the quickness with which events they actively work to cover-up are revealed. First on the Web and eventually in the Press and TV. The Politics of Deception has turned – and World Cup coverage is the mark of that.

The other lesson of the World Cup is remorselessly pragmatic. Assists win. This remarkable fact is again underplayed by FIFA – the only major team sport that does not credit players for contributing assists on a goal. The World Cup Golden Boot is for Goal Scorers only. Yet, basketball with assists, baseball with RBIs, ice hockey with assists all record and reward with trophies and extra-compensation for players who contribute to the production of scoring plays. And anyone watching the World Cup has seen many a tap in goal and many from the passing and assists savvy teams like the aforementioned Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Takethe5th won’t belabor the point and implications for World Leaders.

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