By Tony Attwood
The emergence of Iceland as a footballing nation capable of getting to the European Championship finals made me wonder how they had done it. Or rather, I wondered if the notion I put forward in 2010 (and which has now regularly been copied by others) as to why England do so badly at international football still held true.
Iceland of course is a tiny nation, where in many cases normal statistics don’t apply. I actually wrote a series of adverts about visits to Iceland quite a few years back, (I mention them because it was one of my more successful campaigns) and as part of that work did a fair amount of research into what the nation was all about. Apart from some interesting facts relating to the aluminum industry, and what their banks got up to, (plus the fact that the UK government of George Brown added Iceland to the list of terrorist nations because of the sins of their bankers – a label that I think has never been removed) I found that Iceland has the largest number of published authors per head of population of any nation in the world.
So, I pondered during the interlull, what could it be that makes Iceland suddenly a successful footballing nation as well as being great publishers?
It is a country with a population 0.006 the size of England’s population and by any form of logic it shouldn’t be in the finals of anything, let alone the world’s favourite sport.
Thus it was time to test my 2010 theory to the limit. That theory said that the key factor that influenced whether a country gets to finals or gets close to winning anything has less to do with the population size, and nothing to do with the number of players playing in the home league, but has everything to do with how many qualified football coaches there are per head of population.
If you take a peek at the table below you will see the populations of of each of four countries under their name, followed by their Fifa world ranking. Below that the number of first A licence coaches and then Pro licence coaches.
What I wanted to do was to see how many people in each country had a coaching badge, for each 100,000 of the population which is what the column after each country’s name is all about.
Iceland is a remarkable case in that it seems to be packed with people who have the coaching badges. Nearly 60 people in every thousand have an A licence as opposed to two in every thousand in England.
|Fifa world ranking||31||9||2||1|
|A licence coaches||196||59.57||1178||2.22||5633||6.98||773||6.9|
|Pro licence coaches||13||3.95||203||0.38||1304||1.61||120||1.09|
Now this of course has a lot to do with the nature of that society, for it seemed to me, when I did my research, to be a society is based on doing stuff – seemingly whether it is physical stuff like coaching or intellectual stuff like writing. Icelanders do things. I suppose when most of the year is winter, that helps. (And relieves the time spent working in the aluminum factory).
So Iceland is a special case, and they have used this incredible level of coaching ability to defy the normal laws of physics and get into the European championships. But then I wondered about the other countries. Thus I compared Iceland with England, Germany and Belgium – the 9th, 2nd and top club in the Fifa rankings at present.
In terms of A licensed coaches England is running at about a third of the level of Belgium and Germany – who are not only neck and neck in terms of Fifa rankings but also in terms of number of A licenced coaches per 100,000 people.
Germany is way ahead with the number of Pro licenced coaches, but still we can see that Belgium has three times as many such coaches per head of population as England does.
Of course I am not the only one to spot this – although Untold was just about the first place to spell the figures out. An article recently on the ESPN web site noted the figures and asked said “what is behind this notable discrepancy?”
And once again they were in agreement with the original Untold article for they noted the cost. Here’s what they say…
The standard cost of a UEFA “B” License [in England] — a prerequisite to work at a professional club’s academy — is £990, and it can cost as much as £2,450. In Germany, the cost is €430; in Spain it is €1,100. For the UEFA “A” License, an English coach could pay a maximum of £5,820 — but in Germany it is €530 and in Spain €1,200. Being a member of the FA’s Licensed Coaches’ Club (free to join for anyone with a basic Level 1 qualification) brings the cost down by 25 percent but the prices are significantly higher than on the continent and unquestionably difficult for the average person to afford, unless sponsored by a club.
And why? Because the FA, as I have so boringly noted so many times, is financially bankrupt and run by morons, protected by the corrupt Fifa’s rule that governments cannot interfere in the running of an FA.
So despite all this do you fancy going on a B License course? I tried just prior to publication of this piece to find out how and when and the FA’s official site told me
New course dates to be confirmed.
The simple fact is that all the nonsense about having more and more home grown players on Premier League club lists is at best neither here nor there, or at worse camouflage. It won’t achieve anything. More trained coaches would do it though. But the tragedy is that the people running the courses charge an arm and a leg – when they can be arsed to run the courses at all.
Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football, is now available on Kindle at £9.99. For more details and to buy a copy please click here or go to Amazon Kindle and search for Woolwich Arsenal.
Books in print – available from Untold
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
- 18 November 1995: Tottenham 2 Arsenal 1 – during a period in which Arsenal won 4 games in 15. Bergkamp, in the second of a run of three consecutive games in which he got a goa.
- 18 November 2009: Eduardo signed a new “long-term” contract with Arsenal. He was really coming into his game at Arsenal when Martin Taylor’s wild and appalling tackle almost ended Eduardo’s career in 2008, but there were hopes he would recover his old form, but he ultimately was sold to Shakhtar Donetsk after just 41 league starts.