Naturalised Footballers

Naturalised Footballers

There used to be a time when playing for your country really meant something. If you had been born in a particular place, grown up there, or if you had some sort of blood link through parents, grandparents etc, a strong sense of belonging and identity was what drove you to wear the shirt to carry with pride the hopes and expectations of an entire nation.

Contentious IssueNowadays, however, the lure of playing international football, and the perks that come with it suggest that national pride is not what it once was. In the ever changing global climate, it is to be expected that players move around the world looking for clubs to meet their high wage demands, but should they be allowed to represent the country in which they’re playing at international level without having laid down any real roots at all?

Shouldn’t a player have some sort of link to that country, if not through family or birth then to have at least grown up there, as in the case of Polish born German international, Lucas Podolski? This issue has divided nations and caused much debate.

Denying Opportunities?Brazillians, arguably the most naturally talented players on earth, seem to be popping up all over the world plying their trade in, and for, a variety of countries. The fiercely competitive nature of football in Brazil has led many to seek their international football elsewhere, which although completely understandable, is perhaps denying opportunities to others who are maybe more deserving.

FIFA president, Sepp Blatter seems to share this view. At the draw for the 2010 World Cup, he made the following statement:

“If we don’t take care about the invaders from Brazil,” he is quoted on the CNN website as saying, “then at the next World Cups, we will have 16 teams full of Brazilian players. It’s a danger, a real, real danger.”

Brazillians Around The WorldBrazillians have indeed turned out for many different countries. Rio de Janeiro born, Marco Aurelio even changed his name to Mehmet after gaining Turkish nationality in 2006. He has since played for them 26 times. “He [Aurelio] is one of us now,” proclaimed Turkish striker, Hakan Sukur on the Eurasia Net website after Aurelio’s debut, a 1 0 win over Luxembourg in 2006. “Tonight he was the best player on the pitch.”

Not everyone in Turkey feels the same way, however. Football analyst, Kazim Kanat, also speaking on the Eurasia website said: “How would you look at a player who feels nothing for the colours he’s wearing? I’ll tell you what I think: when they play the national anthem at such a match, I won’t even stand up.”

Other countries that have fielded Brazillian born players include: Japan, Togo, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Qatar, Belgium, Costa Rica, Tunisia, El Salvador, Germany and Poland, The origins of this trend can be traced right back to the 1934 World Cup, when Filo (who, to be fair, had an Italian mother) lifted football’s greatest prize as part of the Italian national team.

Controversy in the Mexican National TeamIn 2006, the then head coach of the Mexican national team, Ricardo La Volpe, an Argentine, caused controversy by picking Argentine born and raised, Guillermo Franco and another foreign born player, Brazillian, Antonio Naelson, better known as “Sinha” ahead of Cuauhtemoc Blanco, considered by many to be one of the greatest Mexican players of all time.

When Sven Goran Eriksson called up four foreign born players, including the two mentioned above, to his Mexico squad three years later, goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa spoke out:

“It’s a very delicate situation, there are a lot of Mexicans waiting for a chance in the national team and this makes it more and more difficult for them,” he is quoted as saying on the Daily Mail website. “It’s obvious that the Mexican players should have better opportunities, so I think the matter of the naturalised players needs more analysis. I don’t think I’d like to see 11 naturalised players in the national team.”

ConclusionThere is no denying the benefits of playing international football. The obvious financial gain, as well as getting the chance to play in major tournaments, which can subsequently lead to more exposure, are strong incentives. There is no doubt that a naturally gifted Brazillian born player will also greatly improve the standard of an average team and influence the playing style of those around him.

Many believe, however, that living in a country for just five years (in line with FIFA’s new “five year rule”) does not make a player worthy of inclusion in a team with which he has no previous connections, family or otherwise.

CONCACAF goalkeepers making noise in Brazil

CONCACAF goalkeepers making noise in Brazil

The FIFA World Cup is entering the quarterfinals of competition and CONCACAF region goalkeepers are making noise throughout the world. Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico and Tim Howard of the United States may have been eliminated from the competition but they are leaving Brazil 2014 with high honor. Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas continues in the competition.

Ochoa has won recognition from several dailies around the world. Readers of the English daily Mirror have elected Ochoa as the best goalkeeper of the world cup so far. He is considered the best keeper due to his actions against Brazil and The Netherlands despite being eliminated from the competition.

The French daily L’Equipe has also praised Ochoa. The former AC Ajaccio goalkeeper of France’s Ligue 1 is considered the biggest surprise of the world cup. The French publication also mentions Ochoa’s stand out performance against Brazil and The Netherlands.

Howard on the other hand has beaten a record that has been in place since 1978. The Everton FC keeper made 16 saves, passing the mark set by Ramon Quiroga of Peru during the Argentina 1978 tournament. Quiroga made 13 saves against The Netherlands in that game.

The New Jersey native made 16 saves in the quarterfinal game against Belgium. Despite the 2 1 loss in overtime, Howard leaves a new record in place.

Howard and Ochoa are the two goalkeepers to earn player of the match during the Round of 16 despite being eliminated.

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas has also shown a great performance taking the Ticos to the quarterfinals. Navas was crucial in stopping Theofanis Gekas’ penalty shot during the shoot out. The Levante UD goalkeeper has only allowed two goals in regular play during the four games his team has participated in.

Howard returns to Everton FC to continue his career. Ochoa is looking for a team since Ajaccio was relegated at the end of the Ligue 1 season. Navas’ name has been linked to teams like Liverpool FC and Arsenal.

Busch’s CEO Discusses Q4 2013 Results

Busch’s CEO Discusses Q4 2013 Results

Welcome to the Anheuser Busch InBev Third Quarter 2013 Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. Hosting the call today from AB InBev is Mr. Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer. Today’s webcast will be available for on demand playback later today. ( Instructions)Some of the information provided during the conference call may contain statements of future expectations and other forward looking statements. These expectations are based on the management’s current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. It is possible that the company’s actual results and financial condition may differ, possibly materially, from the anticipated results and financial condition indicated in these forward looking statements.For a discussion of some of the risks and important factors that could affect the firm’s future results, see Risk Factors in the company’s latest annual report on Form 20 F filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 25, 2013. AB InBev assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward looking information provided during the conference call and shall not be liable for any action taken in reliance upon such information.It is now my pleasure to turn the floor over to Mr. Carlos Brito. Sir, you may begin.Thank you, Jackie. And good morning, good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to our 2013 full year results conference call. Let’s start with the highlights.We had solid revenue per hectoliter growth. We experienced strong global volume growth from Budweiser and Corona. Integration of Grupo Modelo is going very well with cost synergies ahead of schedule. We had EBITDA margin expansion in most of our markets. The normalized profit growth of more than 10% despite macroeconomic headwinds. The Board proposes a final dividend of 1.45, leading a total dividend of 2.05 in fiscal 2013, a 21% increase over 2012. And recently, we announced a reacquisition of Oriental Breweries in South Korea, a transaction which we expect to close in the first half of this year.Let’s now turn to the detail of these results. Total revenue for the year grew by 3.3%, driven by strong revenue per hectoliter growth of 5.8% on the basis of the same geographic mix. As you can see from the slide, there were solid performances in all of our four key markets. Total and own beer volumes were down 2% and our Focus brands were down 0.9%, driven by the challenging macroeconomic conditions in a number of our markets. However, our three global brands, Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois performed very well, growing collectively by 4.7%.EBITDA for the year grew by 8.1% with our EBITDA margin up 179 basis points, finishing the year at almost 40%. Finally, earnings per share for the year was up 9.1% to $4.91 despite significant macro and currency headwinds.Slide 4 shows the contribution of each of our zones to the total EBITDA performance in 2013. The majority of our EBITDA growth last year came from our developing market footprint, driven by Brazil, Mexico and Latin American South. China also made a solid contribution, delivering over $0.5 billion of EBITDA in the year and organic growth of over 30%.The North American zone remains our largest zone in terms of volume, revenue, EBITDA and cash flow generation, with EBITDA increasing to over $6.7 billion. Our total company EBITDA margin performance was strong with margin expansion in most of our markets last year.Australia continues to be one of the focus on key markets and the right brands. The US, Brazil, Mexico and China accounts for almost 50% of both global beer industry volume and profit pool. We hold the number one market share position in all of those markets except China where we hold an approximate 50% share in the fastest growing and most profitable segment, the premium segment.We also have a healthy balance between developed and developing markets. Developing markets now account for almost 64% of our volume and over 50% of our revenues and EBITDA. Although I have seen some volatility in developing countries in the last 12 months, we remain optimistic about the growth potential in these markets. We’re seeing meaningful opportunities for increased per capita beer consumption, driven by both growth in disposable incomes and in our own commercial plans which are creating new consumption occasions.As well as being focused on the right markets, we are also focused on the right brands. We have successfully followed the Focus Brands strategy for many years, devoting a majority of our resources to those brands, which we believe have the greatest growth potential. Last year, our 20 Focus brands accounted for over two thirds of our total volume and revenue. Our Focus brands include our three global brands, Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois, which accounted for around 13% of our volume and revenue in 2013.Global Budweiser had a particularly good year, growing by 6.4%. In recent weeks, Budweiser has been the focal point for our Chinese New Year celebrations. 2014 is the Year of the Horse. And so what better way to celebrate than to take the Clydesdales to China, hoping to make 2014 our best ever Chinese New Year execution.Four weeks ago, the brand also took first and third places in the USA Today Ad Meter, rankings conducted after the Super Bowl when it’s Puppy Love and A Hero’s Welcome spots with over 60 million views on social media channels generating excitement before, during and after the game. And in 2014, Budweiser will take center stage as the global beer sponsor of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.We are committed to investing behind our brands and are planning a step up in investments in 2014 to accelerate our topline growth and take full advantage of the World Cup year in the host country of Brazil as well as in other markets around the world. As a result, we expect the low to mid teens percentage increase in global sales and marketing investments in 2014. This increase will be weighted towards the first half of the year, given the timing of our activations.This additional investment will also support the rollout of existing and new innovations in 2014. Last year, our innovations accounted for almost 8% of our total volume, up from 7% in 2012 and included major products such as Straw Ber Rita and Cran Brrr Rita in the US, Brahma 0.0 and Skol Beats Extreme in Brazil and Budweiser Supreme in China. In 2014, we’ll also be supporting major package innovations such as our new re closeable aluminum bottle in the US and our multi country World Cup limited edition packaging.The combination with Grupo Modelo has given us an unparalleled portfolio of premium brands. We own four of the top 10 brands, which compete on the global stage, our three global brands, Budeweiser, Corona and Stella Artois and our international brand Beck’s. We estimate that the volume of these four brands is larger than the combined volume of the other six competitors’ brands in the top 10.As I have mentioned in the previous calls, the premium portfolio of this quality gives us the potential to expand into new markets without necessarily having to invest in the brewery or distribution network.Let’s now look briefly at the 2013 results in our top markets, starting with the US. We estimate that the industry’s selling day adjusted sales to retailers, STRs, declined by 1.8% in the full year and by 0.7% in the quarter with industry trends improving after a tough start to the year. Our own selling day adjusted STRs were down 2.9% in the full year and by 1.4% in the fourth quarter.As we announced in our third quarter call, in certain parts of the country, our price increase was delayed until the start of November. This led to some of the retail buying ahead of the price increase being moved into October November, benefiting our STRs in the fourth quarter. We estimate our total market share to decline by approximately 50 basis points in the full year and by approximately 40 basis points in the quarter, with an average share for the year of just over 47%.The decline in market share during the year was driven by segment mix shift to the high end, where we under invest versus the industry. Although we estimate that we gained share in the value segment, we’re flat in premium regular and premium light segments and gained share on the above premium segment.US Revenue per hectoliter remained strong, growing by 3.1% in the full year, including approximately 90 basis points of favorable brand mix. Revenue per hectoliter grew by 1.3% in the quarter, being adversely impacted by the delays in the timing of our price increase, which I mentioned earlier. We also faced a tough shipment mix comparable in the fourth quarter due to the preparation for the launch of our above premium innovations in the early 2013.EBITDA margin in the US expanded by approximately 20 basis points in the full year mainly due to savings in distribution expenses from an improved production footprint for innovations as well as a strong revenue per hectoliter results.Turning to the performance of our brands in the US. We estimate that market share for Bud Light family was down approximately 15 basis points in the year, with Bud Light holding share in the Premium Light segment based on our estimates. The Premium Light as a whole remains under pressure. But we’re working hard to make Bud Light even more relevant to today’s consumers without losing any of its core attributes of spontaneity, fun and humor.During the Super Bowl in the beginning of February, we launched the new positioning created for Bud Light with the tag line The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens. We believe that 2014 Super Bowl execution was our best ever with our brand generating nearly half and I say again half of all social media traffic during the game across all categories, giving us great insights into how to best connect with millienials.Bud Light is also benefiting from the rollout of our new 16 ounce re closeable aluminum bottle with consumers already responding with comments such as more refreshing, more modern design and more innovative than competition.