Spain v. France: Blueprints for Developing Soccer Talent?

A great article written right before the Spain vs. France Quarter Final match of the 2010 World Cup…we can learn something about youth development from both of these countries!


By Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff

The author is a historian in the Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State.  Her forthcoming book, “The Making of Les Bleus: Sport in France, 1958-2010,” (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books) examines the history and evolution of French soccer and basketball development.

France plays Spain in the Euro quarterfinals tomorrow inUkraine.  Both sides have demonstrated results in recent memory:Spain’s Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 titles, andFrance’s 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euro victories.  Much is made of each side’s Generation ’87, players born in 1987 who are prominent fixtures in this year’s tournament.  For Spain, this includes Gerard Piqué, Cesc Fàbregas, and Pedro Rodríguez, and for France, Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri, Jérémy Ménez, Blaise Matuidi, and Hatem Ben Arfa.  While indeed gifted athletes, they (and their teammates) are products of similar yet different youth programs.  By the late 1990s, the French development system was acclaimed…

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