Category Archives: Culture

Emerging Markets Love-In Latest: Sports Competition for 4.4bn People Gets Started!


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Filed under Culture, Economic Development, Economics

Tout le monde il est beau: France Conquer Planet Football!

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Filed under Culture, Football, Politics

True Romance: China Eclipses United States in Ultimate #Hyperpower Index! #ValentinesDay

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Filed under Culture, Economic Development, Economics

Expansion Teams: Why FIFA Must Be Bolder on Post-2022 World Cup Evolution

One of the more unnerving recent events in the domain of the world’s most popular sport is indubitably the descent of the Italian national football team into World Cup also-rans long before a finals ball has even been kicked in anger. Their absence from Russia 2018 following a single-goal aggregate play-off defeat to Sweden means that next year’s must-view extravaganza will not feature one of soccer’s great – and richly successful – brands; Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon – by some distance the most charismatic and loved goalkeeper of his generation – has accordingly slumped tearfully into retirement.

However, Italy’s non-appearance at football’s highest table is by no means the only key absence; moreover, it also throws into sharp relief a serious problem that global governing body FIFA is arguably failing to address: the overall standard of play is improving faster than tournaments can expand to accommodate this very trend.

What this means in practical terms is that because the qualification process for football’s showpiece event is now so relentlessly competitive – and the margins between success and failure correspondingly and preposterously slim – the preliminaries risk fatally devaluing the finals.

Going into the final ninety minutes of qualifiers, the teams of neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo were guaranteed a place in Russia; Messi’s Argentina in particular were in enormous danger of missing out altogether. Goal difference condemned Holland; a single freak reverse did for Bosnia-Herzegovina; while Algeria – who gave Germany the game of their life at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil – were placed into a ‘group of death’ alongside Nigeria and Cameroon over a year before the commencement of the tournament proper.

FIFA has reacted to this reality by promising a numerical extension to a 48-team finals from 2026 onwards. However – and after some contemplation – we at Mediolana aver that this is simply not sufficient. Within a decade, yet more nations that are presently not on the radar will have attained a level of footballing expertise that will doubtless shock many members of the old guard; moreover, the consolidation of professionalism in Asia will give countless more players the opportunity of a first-class career, and their national teams a yet better tilt at success.

Revising the 2026- finals intake upwards to 64 teams will not make any significant additional organisational demands on potential hosts and co-hosts; it will, however, help minimise the risk of the most coveted guests not even receiving an invite to the party. For the good of the game – and to preserve its own commercial interests – FIFA should take a giant step towards protecting its beloved World Cup from eating itself, and think bigger.

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Filed under Culture, Football

PakiBash, 2.0: How Postmodern Racism Enables Systemic Decay

The renaissance of racism was one topic that we at Mediolana did not except to be writing about in the late summer of 2017, but with the rise of authoritarian populism in both key developed economies and emerging markets – and a nod to the 16-bit cult video game PakiBash – it makes perfect sense to elucidate the mechanics of this phenomenon.

Contemporary postmodern racism – while certainly not excluding the possibility of physical violence – is a predominantly virtual beast. But it has far-reaching real-world consequences, including ’tilting’ elections, the dehumanisation of out-groups and – crucially – guaranteed decline. Here’s how it works:

  1. Activate ad campaigns. The media is critical in creating a fecund climate for postmodern racism. It does this by running increasingly shrill stories which make popular scapegoats synonymous with structural economic and social problems that they have little-to-no tenable causative connection with, especially vis-à-vis the rest of the population. Wildly inaccurate extrapolations from unrepresentative examples are routinely deployed in this phase.
  2. Increase the heat. The next step – in which the media often (though not always) plays the roles of both cheerleader and instigator – is to claim that in an era when hate speech has become the defining wallpaper of our digital culture, ‘ordinary people’ are somehow being silenced from expressing hate speech. This has the effect of getting people to adopt confrontational demeanours, raising the temperature far beyond rationality.
  3. Airbrush inconvenient facts. That EU migration constitutes a vast economic subsidy to, say, the finances of the United Kingdom – a net benefit of £8.8bn from 1995 to 2011, as opposed to a £604.5bn drain on the exchequer during the same period by British nationals – is something that must be flushed down the memory hole. Sexual abuse – something which numerous high-profile cases have demonstrated is tragically institutionalised at all levels of UK society – is, somehow, to be construed as solely committed by people with darker skin tones and ‘alien’ names working in the margins of the nighttime economy.

Postmodern racism is, in many senses, a quite brilliant stratagem. And to certain population demographics, this new and improved form of Paki-bashing will doubtless provide that surge of adrenalin which is otherwise presumed missing from their existences.

However, it does not actually solve any of the problems it purports to explain. Quite the reverse: (i) it infantilises sections of the general public by conning them into believing that their own deficiencies – such as catastrophically low levels of educational attainment – can be remedied by blaming abstract entities; (ii) it deliberately polarises and degrades political discourse; and (iii) it gives a Get Out of Jail Free card to the taxpayer-funded agencies whose performance and policies have been central in engendering systemic decay.


Filed under Culture, Media, Psychology

The Cost of Decadence: ‘One Night in Heaven’ Smashes Price Ceiling!

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Filed under Culture, Education, Finance

Food Fight: Venice ‘Skewers Europe’s Fast Food Sensation’! #kebabban

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Filed under Culture, Law