How Soccer Changed the Economic World. Or Vice-Versa

Many people have noticed a remarkable result at this year’s World Cup. Consider: Last edition’s champion, Italy, is out, while a host of South American countries are doing wonderfully. Similarly, England has looked wobbly, and even the Germans haven’t been as sharp as expected. It feels like a changing of the guard, with soccer leadership moving out of the top European countries — developed economies — and moving to … emerging markets. Sound familiar?

I ran some numbers today to look at what was going on. Here, based on the current knock-out round leading to 16 advancing teams, is how the advancing countries split in 2006 and have (so far) in 2010. As you can see, emerging markets made up less than half of the final 16 in 2006, but are well over half in 2010. (Similarly, and I didn’t post this graph, the country teams not advancing are disproportionately from developed economies this year, while they were mostly from emerging economies in 2006.) Like the economies from which these surging teams have come, it feels like we are seeing a global leadership change in soccer — emerging vs. developed soccer-cum-sovereign economies.