Soccer Lessons for Europe’s Economy

Though a solution to the euro crisis continues to elude European leaders, the foundations of one are not difficult to discern. In fact, Europe’s recent soccer experience – in the EURO 2012 tournament and this year’s World Cup – provides insight into how to revive Europe’s economy and address its deeper identity problem.

PRINCETON – Though a solution to the euro crisis continues to elude European leaders, the foundations of one are not difficult to discern. In fact, Europe’s recent soccer experience – specifically, in the EURO 2012 tournament and this year’s World Cup – provides insight into how to revive Europe’s economy and address its deeper identity problem.

On June 28, 2012, as European political leaders met in Brussels, amid growing uncertainty about the eurozone’s survival, to negotiate the design of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Germany was playing Italy in a semifinal match in Warsaw. Two goals by Mario Balotelli cinched the win for Italy – and propelled Balotelli to superstar status.

At such a politically sensitive moment, a German victory could have sparked a bitter nationalist reaction in southern Europe. Instead, encouraged by his country’s victory, Italy’s new technocratic prime minister, Mario Monti, in alliance with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, pressed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for easier access to ESM support – and scored another major victory for his country.

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