LA PAZ – Former Bolivian national team coach Xabier Azkargorta said in an interview with EFE that the supposed conflict between Latin American and European clubs is absurd, as “European soccer is teeming with Latin American players.”
“I’ve never understood that whole Latin America versus Europe thing, when Europe is teeming with Latin American players,” the Spanish coach said.
To illustrate, Azkargorta said that, while Uruguay was eliminated by France in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals, Uruguayan defender Diego Godin and France’s Antoine Griezmann went on to return to Atletico Madrid “the very next month.”
The coach also questioned the journalistic interests that lie behind the alleged conflicts between the two factions.
He added that the World Cup in Russia demonstrated that the “collective game is more important than the individual game,” which is confirmed by the elimination of Portugal’s Ronaldo, Argentina’s Messi and Brazil’s Neymar, while teams engaging in a more collective game endured and reached higher standings.
According to the Basque coach, the fact that Latin American players have their eyes set on European clubs is due to “purely economic” reasons.
Azkargorta was in La Paz to present his book “Dificil de entender, imposible de olvidar” (Hard to Understand, Impossible to Forget), about Bolivia’s historic qualification to the 1994 World Cup in the United States while under his helm.
The book’s first edition was released in October last year.
The legendary coach said that he does not know why Bolivia has not been able to qualify for a World Cup again, adding that he hopes it happens again in the future.
The Azkargorta – who is also a surgeon – has a long history leading several clubs in Bolivia, Spain, Japan, Mexico and Chile.