Coaches Without Borders  

Half the Coaches at This World Cup Come from Five Countries

Jurgen Klinsmann is right: The U.S. is not ready to win the World Cup. But even if some believe that Klinsmann is the solution for the U.S., the fact that he’s foreign might also be part of the problem. Look at the record books: Every one of the 19 World Cup-winning teams has been led by a domestic coach.

Of course, that does not stop countries from going outside their borders in search of an able manager. This year, the most fashionable national team leaders are Germans (four), followed by Argentines, Colombians, Italians, and Portuguese (three each). Coaches from those five countries will be guiding half the 32 teams competing in Brazil.

The U.S. is one of four countries that went Deutsch. Switzerland, Cameroon, and of course Germany itself are the others.

Three Colombians—Jorge Luis Pinto, Reinaldo Rueda, Luis Fernando Suarez—coached teams into the World Cup, but the Colombian national team did it with an Argentine, Jose Pekerman. (Two of those Colombians—Pinto and Rueda—are strongly influenced by their training in Germany, at the Deutsche Sporthochschule in Cologne.)

Brazilian coaches have long been known for their adaptability and competence, and they have regularly been at the helm of other countries’ World Cup squads. Curiously, with this year, no foreign country chose to go with a Brazilian coach. Carlos Alberto Parreira, who, in addition to Brazil, has coached Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa at the World Cup, is currently serving as an assistant to Luiz Felipe Scolari with Brazil. That is something only the Brazilians would think of—two former World Cup-winning coaches on one staff.

Argentina has three coaches in the finals for the second successive time. Italy does not have a strong tradition of exporting coaches, but that has changed recently. This year, Fabio Capello (Russia) and Alberto Zaccheroni (Japan) will be in Brazil. The Portuguese contingent includes veterans Carlos Queiroz (Iran) and Fernando Santos (Greece), plus Paulo Bento (Portugal), who succeeded Queiroz soon after the 2010 World Cup.

And what happened to the Dutch School? The Netherlands has never won a World Cup, but they often make it interesting. South Korea would doubtless like to have Guus Hiddink back for this one.

Where are soccer philosophers from the former Yugoslavia? Or the French mercenary coaches? (There is only one, but he does double duty: Algeria’s Vahid Halilhodžić was born in Bosnia and is a Knight of the French Légion d’Honneur.)

Bora Milutinović—the Serbian whose World Cup resume includes references from Mexico, Costa Rica, the United States, Nigeria, and China—will be in Brazil as a spectator, noting in the third person that “the World Cup is not the World Cup without Bora.”