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Lessons from Argentina’s World Cup Victory

Argentina’s crisis-stricken economy stands in stark contrast to the country’s excellence on the football field. To break the never-ending cycle of macroeconomic crises, Argentinians must learn from their national team’s dedication, tenacity, and respect for the rules of the game.

BUENOS AIRES – Much has been written, and even more has been said, about Argentina’s impressive triumph in this year’s World Cup tournament. Most of the media coverage, of course, has revolved around the Argentinian team’s tactics and performance, the wild celebrations that followed the country’s first world title win since 1986, and the potential political impact, given that the team’s victory took place in an election year. But a more interesting question is what this sporting achievement can tell us about Argentina’s economic instability over the past half-century.

Argentina’s economic performance stands in stark contrast to its excellence on the football field. On one hand, Argentina is generally regarded as a missed economic opportunity, stumbling from crisis to crisis for decades and squandering valuable assets that could have made the country very prosperous. On the other hand, the country has a long and storied history of nurturing and maintaining top-level talent.

Sports are a case in point. While the national football team and its remarkable captain, Lionel Messi, are already the stuff of legend following their World Cup victory, their success is far from an anomaly. It was preceded by five previous appearances in the World Cup final and a historic title run led by Diego Maradona in 1986. But Argentinians’ abilities go far beyond sports; the country is also the homeland of literary giants like Jorge Luis Borges, musical luminaries like Daniel Barenboim, and medical pioneers like René Favaloro.