Globalization and the Beautiful Game

Soccer Ball

The biggest sports story in the world at the moment is Leicester City Football Club (LCFC).  They beat odds of 5000 – 1 to win the 2015 -2016 English Premier League title.  The LCFC story is a microcosm of globalization.

LCFC is an English football (soccer) club owned by a Thai businessman. The coach is an Italian. The defensive unit consists of an Austrian, a German, a Jamaican, and an Englishman. The goalkeeper is Danish and his back up is an Australian. The lead strikers (goal scorers) are English, Argentinian, Japanese, and Algerian. The midfield is run by two Englishmen and a Frenchman.

This trophy winning team wouldn’t exist without globalization. A global market place allowed the players and coaches to freely sell their services.  Free trade allowed a Thai businessman to invest in an English company that thrives on a local fan base. The Thai owner, like all sports team owners, used the investment to enhance his company’s global brand. Thanks to the title run, we’ve all heard of King Power even if we don’t know the product or service sold under that name.

But future business deals like the Leicester City team are threatened by a rising tide of anti-trade and anti-globalization.  Across Europe and in the U.S. populist politicians spew anti-trade messages to voters who feel left behind by global trade deals.

Globalization is scary.  Global trade may lower costs for services and products which is good for consumers, but global trade also means that workers at all skill levels face lower wages and job losses as their jobs are automated out of existence or moved to lower cost countries.

I’ve been losing jobs to globalization since the 1980’s when I was downsized from a factory job because overseas competitors could provide the same product at half the American cost. I remember being angry at the factory owners for shutting down the factory and at competitors in countries that didn’t seem to care about worker safety, a living wage or product quality.

Of course, I also remember the grim pre-global trade days of the 1970’s with high inflation, trade barriers that raised the cost of goods and services, protected jobs for insiders and stagnant wages or unemployment for everyone else. So as much as I once hated globalization for dumping me in the unemployment line, it was an opportunity. It gave me an incentive to complete a university education that made me more employable.  I continue to scramble to improve my skills and knowledge to stay relevant as the market place changes.

It would be a shame if trade deals are abandoned in a wave of fear about job losses and “unfair” competition. Abandoning global trade would mean a loss of opportunity for new products and services and higher prices.  It would also ruin the beautiful game of soccer because we’d miss out on Leicester City FC using a global workforce to win a major sports trophy.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

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