Argentina coach Diego Maradona believes South America will never catch up with Europe despite the continent's stunning success at the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.
South America had five representatives in the competition and all five made it to the knock-out stages, with four of them winning their groups. Meanwhile, European heavyweights Italy and France were not only knocked out but also finished bottom of groups including such minnows as New Zealand and hosts South Africa.
Seven of the 13 European teams bit the dust in the group stages and only Germany, Spain and Holland won their groups. Even so, the club game in Europe is so much stronger and there is so much more money in competitions like the UEFA Champions League, Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, that Maradona believes South America will always lag behind.
"I don't think we will ever be a bigger powerhouse than Europe," he said. "What we have to do is build America and make coaches of lesser countries understand that we must have a clear line for kids coming up. We'll never be bigger than Europe but we will have good players and we must also pay attention to youth leagues and make kids dream of playing in Europe and being ready.
"But they should be in the right condition and (Europeans) shouldn't be grabbing kids at 15 years old who have no idea of what it takes to play in the (European) leagues. Even 16 and 17 year-olds can't do that but in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay everyone accelerates things.
"But a child must know what a football player must know because otherwise this is like stealing money from people," he added. "South America must go on doing what it's doing and the premium is knowing that we are giving great players to teams of clubs all over the world and they are making great money. But you should also know that these players, when they make it to their own national team, they have our support and affection."