Euro Cup 2024: Corporate boardrooms should tune into football

Euro 2024 showcases, even if involuntarily, the willingness of national football associations to shed stale ideas on eligibility.  (AFP)
Euro 2024 showcases, even if involuntarily, the willingness of national football associations to shed stale ideas on eligibility. (AFP)

Summary

  • The Euro 2024 football competition holds lessons for companies on team creation and goal orientation. Hint: Look at the age profile of key players and diversity of Europe’s top teams.

The market for HR professionals is teeming with trainers, coaches, life hack experts and motivational gurus. Companies are keen to imbue employees with diverse skills, both hard and soft. Among the capabilities that businesses want their staff to acquire, a particularly hard-fought one is team spirit. 

Crucial as teams are for enhancing productivity, or accelerating learning, they also play a pivotal role in achieving other corporate aims, like better communication and coordination, crunched delivery timelines and reduced errors. Companies often engage external experts to conduct team-building workshops who then deploy a various exercises to test and expand people’s capacity for problem-solving. 

Trainers borrow heavily from a variety of real-life sources to enliven these sessions. This summer, managers and trainers would do well to observe the Euro 2024 football tournament being played in Germany for some key lessons in team creation and goal orientation.

Euro 2024 showcases, even if involuntarily, the willingness of national football associations to shed stale ideas on eligibility. One of the most amazing aspects of it is their inclination to discard the illogical practice of ageism. The competition highlights how various national teams are relying on a clutch of ageing players who, through their skills and gameplay, defy the notion that age can be a handicap. 

Also read: Euro 2024: The 6 teams that are favourites to win the Euros

Defender Pepe, for example, is a regular in Portugal’s team, even though he turned 41 a few months ago, an age considered fit for retirement not only from national teams, but also from club football. His compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, aged over 39, is not only supremely athletic and in possession of a fantastic footballing brain, but also acts as a source of inspiration for younger players. 

Croatia has Luka Modric, also 39, who helped Real Madrid win this year’s Champions League. Corporate boardrooms also need to appreciate how age can encapsulate multiple facets needed for better performance: institutional memory, an ability to deal with crises and the experience of having withstood the vicissitudes of varied business cycles.

There is another aspect of international football—and Euro 2024 in particular—that should guide corporate recruitment for leadership teams, especially those swearing allegiance to the credo of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The teams of Europe’s top footballing countries today look very different from their earlier configurations. Germany has selected Ilkay Gundoğan, son of Turkish migrants, to lead its quest for the Euro 2024 trophy. 

Also read: Italian soccer shoots for a renaissance

France has the gifted winger Kylian Mbappé, a first-generation French national born to Algerian and Cameroonian immigrants, as its captain. Selectors have gone a step ahead and even appointed foreigners as team coaches: Albania has Sylvinho, a Spaniard, while Hungary hired Marco Rossi, an Italian. The idea is simple: Get the best professionals for the job, nationality and other factors be damned. Predictably, voices of resistance have arisen within Europe’s growing right-wing politics. 

Some have even suggested that a referendum be held to determine who should play for the national team, mindless of the irony of hard nationalism within soft European borders. In the end, DEI should be put into practice and not remain just a buzzword, like how infotech firms seem to reflexively use the term “scrum" for meetings with little appreciation for why it was borrowed from rugby in the first place.

Also read: Uefa Euro 2024: 10 young stars to watch out for in Germany

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