RIO DE JANEIRO - Football has not been immune to the tide of globalization, which has transformed the sport, the head of the African Football Confederation (CAF) said Wednesday.
"Globalization has dissolved all the boundaries and the distances" in the game, aiding the transfer of knowledge from major footballing nations to smaller countries, Hicham El Amrani told a sports management seminar in Rio.
El Amrani said the first ever World Cup in Africa -- South Africa 2010 -- and the current event in Brazil had seen clear long-term progress in areas such as transport and communications.
"So we should leverage these opportunities," said Moroccan El Amrani, who noted his own continent "has one of the highest rates of (player) migration" to major European leagues.
"What globalization has changed is the way we market the game and the way we watch. Football has changed as a result," El Amrani said.
He agreed with Eduardo Conde Tega, director of Brazil's Football University, that globalization had blurred soccer's cultural boundaries in what the Brazilian termed "post-modern nationalism."
Tega drew attention to the cultural melting-pots of an increasing number of teams, including the United States, with many World Cup teams fielding players from a wide variety of origins.
"This is how the world is today -- football is a reflection of how the world evolves," El Amrani said.
"A few years ago Italian people would not have thought they would have a black centre forward," he said, referring to Mario Balotelli, born to Ghanaian immigrants in Sicily.
In reference to Belgium's Romalu Lukaku, son of a former Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) international, El Amrani remarked: "Believe me, he's as Belgian as the rest of them."
Tega added that "it's not just the rich countries who benefit" from globalization in the game "as we can see that Argentina have with (Lionel) Messi."
Messi joined Barcelona as a young teen but Argentina's national team are reaping the benefits of his education at the Catalonian club.
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