WORLD CUP OF SOCCER GROUP E: THROUGH A COLD WAR LENS
Group E teams include Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, and Cameroon. Stats and team info are courtesy of ESPN.
Nickname: THE FLYING DUTCHMEN
Record: W 16/ D 10/ L 10
Best Performance: Runner-Up in ’74, ’78
Group Stage Schedule:
June 14 vs. Denmark – Win
June 19 vs. Japan – Win
June 24 vs. Cameroon – 2PM ET
In 1974, the Dutch introduced the world to “Total Football,” where no player is fixed in any one position. This style of play led them to championship game appearances in ’74 and ’78. But THE FLYING DUTCHMEN are still one of the best teams to never win the World Cup. A favorite in Group E, this may be their year to finally make history.
The Netherlands received $1.127 billion of Marshall Plan aid between 1948 and 1954. This represented the second highest per capita support in Europe – only Iceland received more.
The Dutch famine of 1944 abated with an influx of aid, but the general devastation of agriculture led to conditions of near starvation, exacerbated by the particularly harsh winter of 1946–1947 in northwestern Europe. The region’s economic structure was ruined, and millions were made homeless.
In 1949 the Netherlands joined Britain, France, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, and Portugal as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), dedicated to fighting communism and Soviet aggression in the North Atlantic area.
The Netherlands was also active in decolonization. In 1962, the Netherlands transferred New Guinea to the United Nations. In 1975, Suriname, a former Dutch colony, became an independent republic. In 1986, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles.
Russia and the United States, of course, competed for power and influence in the decolonized nations.
The Cold War was not central to life in the Netherlands, and the country was one of the less active participants in NATO.
Nickname: OLSEN’S ELEVEN
Record: W 7/ D 2/ L 4
Best Performance: Quarterfinals in ’98
Group Stage Schedule:
June 14 vs. Netherlands – Loss
June 19 vs. Cameroon – Win
June 24 vs. Japan – 2 PM ET
2010 marks Denmark’s fourth World Cup. Morten Olsen, a key member of the “Danish Dynamite” team from the ’80s, is back as manager. Everyone in OLSEN’S ELEVEN, led by Jon Dahl Tomasson, Nicklas “Barbie” Bendtner, and Daniel “The Tattoo Artist” Agger, has a role to play if they are going to ignite Group E.
Following World War II, Denmark ended its two-hundred year long policy of neutrality. Denmark has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since its founding in 1949, and membership in NATO remains highly popular.
Occupying the vital exit from the Baltic, Denmark was in a key strategic position. With her assistance, the Soviet Baltic Fleet could be bottled up and rendered ineffective. This made her an obvious early target for WARPAC aggression in the event of war. Experiences during the Second World War made many Danes reluctant to occupy such an exposed position on NATO’s front line.
Denmark received Marshall Plan assistance in 1948. This allowed a big program of farm modernization to take place, and there was an increase in industrial activity. However, it was not until 1963 that the value of industrial and manufactured goods exceeded those of agricultural produce.
Starting in the 1960s, a collection of activist groups began to shoot up. Because categorizing their ideology was often difficult, some peace movements were viewed with suspicion in the East as well as in the West. The political extremist groups that accompanied the youth rebellions of the period were just as difficult to pin down.
Many joined groups that opposed the Soviet Union, yet went ahead and supported other forms of repression. Others believed that their political philosophy held all the answers, and that this gave them the right to force others into their way of thinking. Most, though, abandoned their rebelliousness as they found respectable jobs.
Some engaged in politically motivated violence, and others felt they best served their cause by spying on the enemy. Still, while the Eastern bloc’s attempts to win influence — and its intelligence activities — were extensive, they produced limited results.
Overall, Denmark was not a reserved ally, but became increasingly integrated in NATO over time, politically as well as militarily.
Nickname: SAMURAI BLUE
Record: W 2/ D 2/ L 6
Best Performance: Round of 16 in ’02
Group Stage Schedule:
June 14 vs. Cameroon – Win
June 19 vs. Netherlands – Loss
June 24 vs. Denmark – 2 PM ET
Japan was the first team to qualify for South Africa, but it wasn’t easy. Manager Okada has been under media scrutiny and the offense has struggled. But a strong midfield and the experience of four consecutive appearances (including a Round of 16 finish in ’02 may be all SAMURAI BLUE need to advance through Group E.
After World War II ended, Japan was devastated. All the large cities (with the exception of Kyoto), the industries, and the transportation networks were severely damaged. Drastic food shortages continued for several years.
The occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers — chiefly the United States — started in August 1945 and ended in April 1952. General MacArthur was the first Supreme Commander.
What remained of Japan’s war machine was destroyed, and war crime trials were held.
A new constitution went into effect in 1947. The emperor lost all political and military power. He was left with only a symbolic position. Japan was not permitted to maintain an army.
This situation began to change with the emergence of the Cold War.
Japan was given central status in US-Asia strategy, and peace terms changed from punitive to generous. US strategic thinking focused on securing Japan within the Western bloc. This meant assuring a long-term US military presence in Japan, particularly in Okinawa.
In January 1950, after communist regimes were established in North Korea and mainland China, the so-called Acheson Line was established. Japan and the Philippines were included in the US defense area of the western Pacific. Taiwan and Korea were left outside, suggesting that the loss of these areas was considered acceptable.
In June 1950, war broke out in Korea, and US policy toward Korea and China hardened. The US soon placed an on China and met it on the battlefield in Korea. With war underway, the “Containment Line” was fixed at the 38th parallel in Korea, and in the Taiwan Strait.
When the Korean PeaceTtreaty went into effect in 1952, Japan’s occupation ended. Tha tcountry’s Self Defense Force was established in 1954. The US-Japan Security Treaty was renewed in 1960.
Japan normalized its relationship with the Soviet Union in 1956, and with China in 1972.
Recently, secret Cold War era pacts between Japan and the US have come to light. These allowed nuclear armed warships to enter Japanese ports in violation of Tokyo’s postwar principles. The pacts are quite controversial because there is a strong aversion to nuclear weapons in Japan, the only country to suffer atomic bombings at the end of World War II.
During the Korean War, Tokyo and Washington also had secret agreements allowing the US to use military bases in Japan. The bases could be used without prior consent in case of emergency on the Korean Peninsula.
Under a security alliance with the US, some 47,000 American troops remain stationed in Japan, and the US protects the country under its nuclear umbrella.
Nickname: LES LIONS INDOMPTABLES (The Indomitable Lions)
Record: W 4/ D 7/ L 6
Best Performance: Quarterfinals in ’90
Group Stage Schedule:
June 14 vs. Japan – Loss
June 19 vs. Denmark – Loss
June 24 vs. Netherlands – 2PM ET
Cameroon’s 1990 upset over Argentina, flashy style of play and Roger Milla celebrations turned THE INDOMITABLE LIONS into everyone’s second favorite team. This will be the sixth World Cup for Cameroon. They are looking to striker Samuel Eto’o to bring back the flash from the past.
Cameroon’s Cold War experience begins with the defeat of Germany in World War I. In 1919, Kamerun became a League of Nations mandate territory and was split into French Camerouns and British Cameroons.
The new French colony’s economy was integrated that of France. The British administered their territory from neighboring Nigeria.
The League of Nations mandates were converted into United Nations Trusteeships in 1946, and the question of independence became a pressing issue in French Cameroun.
France outlawed the most radical political party, the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), on 13 July 1955. This prompted a long guerrilla war and the assassination of the party’s leader.
In British Cameroons, the question was whether to reunify with French Cameroun or join Nigeria.
On January 1, 1960, French Cameroun gained independence from France under President Ahmadou Ahidjo . On October 1, 1961, the formerly British Southern Cameroons united with French Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Ahidjo used the ongoing war with the UPC to concentrate power in the presidency, continuing with this even after the suppression of the UPC in 1971.
Ahidjo’s political party, the Cameroon National Union (CNU), became the sole legal political party on September 1, 1966.
In 1972, the federal system of government was abolished in favor of a United Republic of Cameroon, headed from Yaoundé.
Ahidjo pursued an economic policy of planned liberalism, prioritizing cash crops and petroleum exploitation. The government used oil money to create a national cash reserve, pay farmers, and finance major development projects; however, many initiatives failed when Ahidjo appointed unqualified allies to direct them.
Ahidjo stepped down on November 4, 1982 and transferring power to his constitutional successor, Biya.
However, he remained in control of the CNU and tried to run the country from behind the scenes until Biya and his allies pressured him into resigning. Biya began his administration by moving toward a more democratic government, but a failed coup d’état nudged him toward the leadership style of his predecessor.
An economic crisis took effect in the mid-1980s as a result of international economic conditions, drought, falling petroleum prices, and years of corruption, mismanagement, and cronyism.
Cameroon turned to foreign aid, cut government spending, and privatized industries. With the reintroduction of multi-party politics in December 1990, the former British Cameroons pressure groups called for greater autonomy.