Rory McIlroy, Kimi Räikkönen and Luis Suárez
A relatively small region can often produce many of the top stars in a sport. Notable examples might be the number of world-class golfers from Northern Ireland, or the unusual number of Formula 1 and rally champions from Finland.
Football is no different, even though it’s played all over the world.
For example, two of the sport’s leading strikers are Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani. They were both born in 1987 in Salto, a Uruguayan town (pop. around 100,000) near the Argentinian border. Messi was also born in 1987, just 350km southwest of Salto in the town of Rosario. Coincidence?
Take a look at the goalscorer charts in the top European leagues. Then open an atlas and stick the point of a compass in Buenos Aires. Now draw a circle with a 500km radius. You’ll be surprised how many world-class strikers were born and/or grew up within the semi-circle that spans the mainland.
How is this possible?
Many factors may play a role, but an important one is the presence of morphogenetic fields: non-physical, energy-like fields that help form footballers and playing styles. Much like their electromagnetic namesakes, these morphogenetic (or morphic) fields traverse the earth’s surface and vary in strength.
At the core of our hypothesis is the idea that there are geographic zones or regions that are more likely to yield a higher quality of football and/or a top footballer. Since the strength of these morphogenetic fields does not remain constant through time, the standard of football and players produced by a region can also change.
Morphogenetic field strengths
Morphic fields explain why particular playing styles and tactical approaches are associated with specific regions and countries.
We believe there is a morphic football code that exists in tandem with the genetic patterns, learning processes and other factors assumed responsible for football development. This code helps ensure, for example, that Catenaccio remains the preferred style of play in Italy, that German teams tend to win “in the end” or that tomorrow’s top teams will continue to feature truly exceptional football talents from the Balkan region or the east coast of South America.
Morphogenesis derives from the Greek words morpho (form) and genesis (creation), and the term “morphogenetic field” is closely associated with the work of the biologist Rupert Sheldrake. These fields drive formative causation in the development of structures in biology, physics, and chemistry, but also in society.
You can think of them as a kind of structural code or basic model that encourages particular patterns to appear in some kind of biological form.
Sheldrake first tackled the question of what lies behind the creation of particular forms with his theory of morphogenetic fields, as published in his 1981 book “A new science of life”.
In biology, these morphogenetic fields are responsible for the development and maintenance of a specific form. In plants, for example, this might be the shape of a leap, a flower or a stem.
This concept applies to other areas of life: perception, behaviour or mental fields drive the organisation of perception, behaviour or mental activities. Social and cultural fields drive the organisation of societies and cultures. By imposing organisation, they are all morphic fields.
All of which leads us to the conclusion that there are also latent football fields (!) or “morphic fields within football”. They then find their expression wherever football is played.
Two aspects of Sheldrake’s theories are particularly relevant here:
- Morphic fields include a permanent memory through the phenomenon of resonance
- These fields develop through time
The more a form appears, the more likely it is to do so in future. At some point it becomes quasi habit. The first form-defining field arises through a creative leap whose source is unknown. It might be mere chance or the expression of some form of creativity embedded in the spirit and/or in nature. As soon as a new field – a new basic model – arises, it is reinforced through repetition. The more repetition, the more the pattern becomes habitual, the more it becomes the default pattern.
For football this would mean that wherever particular football patterns emerge, these become more likely to be repeated. Taken a step further: if there is an established basic model for “high technical proficiency” in a region, then that region will produce a disproportionately greater number of skilled players. The key point is that this is independent of any kind of local football-related genes in the population.
If there are predetermining patterns for “ball skills”, then there might be morphic models for 5-4-1, tiki-taka, or the long ball game. The possibilities are many.
Our core problem is that right now we don’t know exactly where these morphogenetic football fields are, nor how strong they are.
Currently, we can use long-term anecdotal observations of particularly repeating phenomena to decide where best to conduct field experiments and more detailed scientific analysis. This would then confirm or otherwise our hypotheses.
Even without rigorous scientific examination it is possible to easily identify a high-strength morphic field for “ability on the ball” in South America, specifically on the east coast between Belo Horizonte and Buenos Aires. Pelé, Garrincha, Ronaldinho, Di Stefano, Maradona and Messi all hail from this region.
The Balkans and the ball
In Europe, the Balkan region provides an excellent example of just such a field. It remains strong, despite the various conflicts in the region that saw, for example, the breakup of Yugoslavia. It is fascinating to observe just how many talented footballers this region continues to bring forth, and how the component countries, whether young, small or otherwise, perform so well at (or during qualification for) international tournaments – think of Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and even Kosovo.
If the region was split into 30 countries, you could still imagine two or three managing to qualify for a 24-team finals.
The strong “ability on the ball” morphic field in the Balkans applies, of course, to other ball sports. The more populous countries in particular, like Serbia and Croatia, have ranked highly over many years in such sports as basketball, handball, volleyball or water polo.
The Balkans is not the only region in Europe where a strong morphic football field influences the development of the game and its players. And “ability on the ball” is not the only quality impacted by such a field. There are probably related morphic qualities such as “anticipation and spatial perception”.
Perhaps there are even such morphic football qualities as “winning mentality”, “willingness to run” or “strength in the tackle” – the very qualities, for example, that TV commentators regularly evoke should a (German) team fall behind in a match.
Another interesting facet of morphogenetic fields in football is the interaction between such fields. How are they connected? How is information and knowledge transferred between regions via the collective memory?
Are there such things as morphic isobars?
What role do rivers or bird migration routes play?
Indeed, what role do typical football migration routes play?
In this context, the geographical paths travelled by players and coaches are equally as interesting as the establishment and spread of specialist knowledge and skills through academies and other institutions.
We believe that morphic fields in football have an enormous impact on the game, leagues and tournaments. And, of course, they certainly impact, and interact with, the other hypotheses and models we propose.
Take names theory, for example. If certain first names, family names or nicknames pop up among footballers in regions with strong morphic fields, then these names are more likely to appear again in future.
There also appears to be a clear connection between the collective memory within morphogenetic field theory and the Moirai-Zeus conflict. If a strong field encourages a particular football phenomenon or pattern, then this builds expectations which, in turn, can then develop into destiny-like determinants of future patterns, behaviours or approaches.
We need to take a closer look, open our minds and tackle the unanswered questions. We need to take the somewhat bold (given the current state of knowledge) assertions regarding morphogenetic fields in football and submit them to closer, rigorous analysis. In short, we have much work to do.