Germany 4, England 1. The English Premier League may be the most popular league in the world with its players paid ludicrous wages, but for all the league’s global mass appeal, the host nation, England, is hard-pressed to deliver a top-class national team.
(Check out the ref’s funny blind spot here.)
The influx of foreign players and coaches and the lack of space in the top clubs for the development of promising English talent have contributed to the stagnation – if not regression – of the England national side.
In contrast, the Germans may not have the most exciting league in the world, but they have invested in their young players through their academy.
In many ways, this situation parallels what would happen if economic markets, especially in developing nations, are ‘liberalised’ or opened up to superior foreign players in a free-for-all. Foreign corporations will end up controlling and dominating the local economy while Malaysian firms will struggle to compete, without concerted intervention to protect local interests.
What will happen to the national economy when more foreign banks and hypermarket chains, with tremendous resources at their disposal, set up more branches in Malaysia? What will happen to local retailers and the corner shop up the street? Will foreign interests dictate national economic policy then?
Already, we can see something happening in the showcase Suria KLCC (‘Premier League’). The latest Edge, carries an article pointing out that foreign brands are already crowding out Malaysian brands, which have no choice but to move out to less popular malls (‘lower divisions’) as Suria rentals soar.
Retail activity may have returned to Suria KLCC after the global slowdown and Suria (‘EPL’) itself as a mall might still be popular, but left to market forces, what will happen to Malaysian firms (‘English clubs’) who cannot afford the spiralling rentals (‘footballers’ wages’)? Suria KLCC was meant to showcase Malaysian brands side-by-side with top international brands. But the higher rentals are nudging out the few up-and-coming and top local brands names – or pushing them to the less frequented upper floors?
Just as with the EPL and the England national side, as ‘liberalisation’ creeps into the East Asian region on the coat-tails of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we might end up with a thriving economy dominated by foreign firms controlling the wealth (which goes to the big foreign and corporate players) while domestic interests end up marginalised with the economic crumbs.