Teamwork On and Off the FieldThe French people could hardly believe they had won the World Cup in 1998. It was the first time they had won in the history of the event. Their best performances until then was their third place finish in the 1958 and 1986 World Cup games. Although the French national team qualified for the World Cup games nine times, it never made to the final match until 1998. After the French victory, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the World Cup''s governing body, began a full-scale analysis how France won the championship. The Technical Committee, an in-house organization of FIFA, researched the game in details, and concluded that the French national team''s coach was primarily responsible for the victory. According to the report published by FIFA, teamwork play was the critical tactic leading to the victory. FIFA concluded that France could have not won without head coach, Aime Jacquet.
Mr. Jacquet favored players who valued teamwork instead of star players as he went about selecting players for the national squad. He valued players who passed the ball to other players to score goals at critical moments, over star players who scores goals by working the ball down the field alone. France was stunned when Mr. Jacquet did not include Eric Cantona, the most famous player in the country, on the national team roster. Despite criticism from the press, he stuck to his decision. He ignored the press reports, some of which intimated that he was unfit to lead the team. He also sheltered his players from the media. Mr. Jacquet''s strategy gave a birth to a new star, Zinedine Zidane, who scored two goals in the final. Mr. Zidane respected Mr. Jacquet''s soccer philosophy. He silently supported other team members who benefited from his play, rather than taking all the credit himself. One of Mr. Jacquet tactics was to employ Mr. Zidane to lead France''s team in the final match. Based on his strategy, the French national team beat Brazil 3-0 in the final to take the coveted World Cup.
South Korean newspapers reported that former Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink signed a contract a few days ago to lead the Korean national team in the 2002 World Cup. Mr. Hiddink, who led the Netherlands national team to the fourth place in 1998 World Cup, is also famous for his tactics which stress teamwork. One star player does not make a soccer team - as was evident in Brazil''s stunning loss in 1998. That is why a coach with an appreciation for teamwork is vital to lead a team to victory. If Mr. Jacquet were replaced from his position because of press criticism, France would have never won in 1998. Once we make a decision to entrust a person, we have to support the person from the bottom of our hearts. Let us trust Mr. Hiddink.
by Bae Myung-bok
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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