Monthly Archives: January 2017

Lionel Messi: A Biography – A Genius of Soccer

From Carlos Gardel and Eva Peron to Maradona and Lionel Messi

"He (Lionel Messi) is the best player in the world by some distance", Arsne Wenger, the coach of the FC Arsenal, has proclaimed of the five-foot-eight-inch tall, Argentine-born football star, "He's ( like) a PlayStation. He can take advantage of every mistake we make ".

As elsewhere in Latin America, much of Argentina's sporting history has been dominated by football — known simply as soccer in the States– since the 1920s. After Argentina's military strongman Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo, a hated tyrant, declared top priority to win the FIFA Global Cup in the late 1970s, the nation's footballers invaded the world with a host of global awards and trophies. On June 25, 1978, Mario Kempes and his fellow players lifted the winner's Cup on home soil upon scoring an overwhelming win against a Peruvian team led by an Argentine-born goalkeeper (6-0) in the semis. Within a year, in Japan's capital city of Tokyo, the South American contingent, spearheaded by Diego Armando Maradona, was regarded as the best junior team on the Planet at the expense of the former Soviet Union / USSR. Shortly thereafter, Argentina was one of the "huge favorites" in the men's football tournament prior to joining the US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. Three years on, its national side came close to winning the IV Junior Global Championship.

On June 29, 1986, Los Celestes, as the national squad is known around the globe, placed first in the FIFA Cup in the United Mexican States; One of the most memorable matches ever seen in World Cup history was played there as Argentina beat England – Maradona and his team-mates tried to win on the field what their countrymen had lost in the 1982 Anglo-Argentine Falklands War. Already, in 1990, once again Maradona put Argentina in the final of the FIFA Cup on Italian soil. In the space of six years, from 1995 through 2005, the national contingent was four-time winner of the Under-20 World tournament. It was around this time that name Messi appeared on the scene.

Argentine-born Messi, who is dubbed "the Flea", is a strong and powerful forward who plays both in FC Barcelona (since 2003) and Argentina's national squad (2006) .Curiously, he has spent his entire career in Spanish club (nearly 10 years), working in a variety of teams (Under-15, U-17, U-19, as well as other squads). Messi has become almost indispensable to his club (known popularly as "Barca") – he is the backbone of Barcelona's 4-3-3 formation. Nevertheless, he loves to play football with the Argentine side, having refused to be a member of the Spanish national team despite his strong links to European nation. As well as being an Argentine-born person, Messi, of Italian background, is a Spaniard citizen since the mid-2000s. From 2005 through 2011, Messi collected over seventy individual awards. Indeed, his success as a sportsman is largely due to his persistence and hard discipline. According to Paris-based magazine France Football, Messi is the world's top paid footballer. Besides all that, the center forward — a soccer gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics– has gained international stature as a champion for the rights of children.

Although Lionel Andres Messi, known occasionally as "the ghost center forward", is considered one of the greatest soccer players to have never won a FIFA World Cup (together with Ferenc Puskas from Hungary and Liberia's George Weah), he is already one of the male athletes most famous on the global sporting map. In the Western Hemisphere, Messi, who is often compared to Maradona, has inspired thousands of young would-be footballers to follow their dreams, especially in poverty-stricken regions. But not only that, because of him more people know about Argentina –which has a long-standing history of man-made disasters — than ever before. On his home soil, his status is only comparable to three national celebrities: Argentina's postwar First Lady Eva Perón -made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita — Maradona, and Carlos Gardel, nicknamed the "songbird of Buenos Aires" and who helped popularize tango around the world.

Lionel Messi: A Rough Diamond

Lionel Messi's life changed forever when he was plucked out of the Spanish-speaking republic of Argentina by a talent scout to play for Barca, which is often referred to as one of the top clubs around the globe- it holds hundreds of millions of soccer fans outside its own borders, from Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau to San Marino and the Feroe islands.

You can not become a top sportsman (woman) if you do not achieve notable results, if you are not a hard worker, and before all, if you are not able to overcome the obstacles in your life. In fact, Lionel Messi knows firsthand about this. Like his fellow Argentine Maradona, Messi is small – who stands 5 feet 8 inches tall – for the position of forward, but he overcame this with a prodigious ability and exceptional intelligence on the filed, earning the nickname "Flea". Over his athletic career, he also has defeated other hurdles: numerous injuries, especially during Rikjaard's direction. Throughout his years as a boy, his country underwent one of the deepest recessions in the Americas. But this was not all. Because of an illness, he almost gave up the sport. By 2008, there were troubles to send Messi to the Summer Games due to his dual citizenship and status as a professional footballer in Barcelona. Against club wishes, however, Messi, the greatest professional footballer of all time, arrived at Beijing with the Argentine squad (as a defending champion). In the Olympic arena, soon afterwards, he and his colleagues were champions, making history in the People's Republic of China. Currently, Barcelona will not sell Messi for anything in the world.

Messi bases his success on being able to offer a play based on passion, determination, hard discipline, and an exceptional ability. No player can ever be categorized as invincible in football world, but Messi is probably the most talented man ever to carry a ball. In all his matches, Messi plays as if were a game for the FIFA World Championship.

Rosario: The Birth Of A Footballer

Born in the Argentinian city of Rosario (Santa Fe Province), on June 24 1987 – a year after his country captured the FIFA World Tournament in the Mexican metropolis — Messi is one of the fourth children born to Jorge Horacio Messi and his wife , the former Celia Mara Cucittini. Curiously, he is one of the four most prominent individuals from Rosario, alongside Libertad Lamarque (performer), Valeria Mazza (supermodel), and César Luis Menotti (football coach).

His father had been a factory steel worker. In fact, Messi inherited his football genes from his father, who was coach during a brief period. Meanwhile, Messi's mother is an admirer of notable people and wanted his children to have famous names. Celia Mara named his son Lionel after her favorite idol Lionel Richie, a Grammy-winning singer / songwriter whose pop chart-topping hits in the 1980s included "Truly", "You Are", and "All Night Long".

Like most of Argentina's sportsmen as Octavio Dazzan (cycling), David Nalbandian (tennis), and Manu Ginibili (basketball), Lionel reflects the Italian roots of his motherland. His father's family is from Italy's city of Ancona who came to the Latin American place during a large-scale European immigration at the turn of the 19th century. This Spanish-trained professional footballer, the high-scoring forward of Barcelona, ​​has two brothers, Rodrigo and Matas, and a sister, Maria Sol. On the other hand, his cousins ​​Maximiliano and Emmanuel Biancucchi are also soccer players.

His sporting life goes back to times when Messi grew up playing football in Rosario, a land famous for their athletic passion and hosted the World Championships for both professional and amateurs, including the Men's Football World Cup (1978) and Men's Volleyball Global Tournament (1982 ); Messi can take credit for that because he has been named official Ambassador for Rosario's 2019 Pan American bid. Under this Olympic atmosphere, Jorge Horacio Messi made no secret of his ambitions for his son.

Like several Latino champs –among them Edwin Vásquez Cam (shooting) and Nancy López (golf) – Messi was introduced to sport by his father. Before joining the Newell's Old Boy's youth side, Lionel -when he was only 5 years old — played in the local team of Grandioli, where his father was coach. On that occasion, the smaller Lionel was a goalie on the football team. At the time, he had a lot of athletic skills, but not the technical skills. Shortly after, while Lionel demonstrated his talent in the under-10 competitions in his homeland and abroad in the middle of the 1990s, the Argentine boy, at the age of 11, was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Since then, prior to begin an athletic career as a junior player in the following years, he had to beat back an illness, whose treatment cost $ 900 a month. But in spite of this problem, his enthusiasm for football was unbelievable.

A Golden Opportunity

Recognizing Messi's precocious talent, Carles Rexach, a sports administrator, promised him that FC Barcelona would pay his treatment if he decideto play for the famous club.The answer was "yes", of course. As a consequence of this, Messi and his parents moved permanently to Barcelonese soil, a football-mad place. On that occasion, the youngster was sad to leave his home city. However, the Spaniard place had a special significance to Messi: There, on May 3, 1980, his fellow Argentine Maradona signed a six-year contract with the traditional side.

The travel proved to be a turning point in his life. In the capital and largest city of Spain's Catalan region — one of Europe's first class cities — Messi received a scholarship to play football in Barca's athletic academy, alongside Xabi Alonso, Gerard Piqu, Andrs Iniesta and other boys. The Club's Youth Academy (one of Western Europe's major sports academies), was set up with one primary goal in mind: Scans up to 300 young talents and transform some of them into champions. The youth squads have always preoccupied Barcelona's sports leaders. In recent decades, the Spaniard club sent scouts to Latin America looking for promising youth athletes.

As well as being the nation's second largest city behind Madrid, Barcelona is a place that is tied closely to the Olympic Movement, physical activity and all of the values ​​that sport represent in the 21st Century. This corner of the planet, host to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, is an international grandstand with recreational spaces, sports academies, and state-of-the-art Olympian facilities on a par with other sporting cities such as London (UK), Singapore City, Doha (Qatar), Montreal (Canada), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), and Los Angeles (CA). Additionally, it was home of Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, former Chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and among the world's most gifted and influential sports administrators.

During a breakout year, after overcoming his illness, Messi, who was about four-foot-seven-inch tall, become one of Barca's top male players in the Boys' Division of the Spanish Football Championships. There, he had been outstanding throughout the event, scoring over 35 goals and setting numerous records for his age group. A couple of years later, under the aegis of Spain's Club, Messi improved rapidly his play and was promoted to the junior team's starting lineup, competing in the under-19 tournaments.

Encouraged by Frank Rijkaard

As a young teen, he got the first opportunity to used his talent as a member of Barca's official contingent when he made his first appearance in the friendly against Porto on November 16, 2003. Following his initial impact, scoring 22 goals in the junior competitions , the up-and-coming Messi, by late 2003, was moved up to the reserves of the club: The squad "C", prior to winning the right to play for Barcelona B side, a second division club. Messi, as a young athlete, acquired enough expertise to participate in senior soccer events, face-to-face with finest professional players from Europe and abroad. It was an excellent school for him, of course.

After watching his athletic performance in the traditional junior contests on Spaniard soil, Frank Rijkaard, Barca's major coach at the time, put his eyes on Messi –perhaps his most famous pupil – and did not doubt that he would be the next greatest footballer on the Planet — Perhaps a Maradona. Nonetheless, the high-flying coach was not the first to be excited by the potential of Messi. On the other hand, Rijkaard backed up a number of young players, including Carles Puyol and Vctor Valds.

At the age of 17, Messi had a chance to show his athletic potential. Fortunately, he did not disappoint to Barca's sports officials and soccer fans when he entered the highest level in Spanish championship, by passing many senior footballers and becoming the youngest player in the domestic soccer league. It was one of the greatest moments of Messi's life on the soccer field.

Encouraged by his coach, Frank Rijkaard, Messi, months later, made his mark with the club by scoring his first senior goal against Albacete Balompi, becoming the youngest footballer from Barcelona to ever score in the domestic football league, among the world's most competitive sports tournaments. By any standards it is a phenomenal achievement. In fact, Rijkaard made him the focus of the team's new offfensive scheme. Later on, Messi spoke with gratitude about Rijkaard, "I will never forget the fact that he launched my career, that he had confidence in me while I was only sixteen or seventeen". Without a doubt, he was considered one of the great prospects of the world football.

A Champion In the Netherlands

By the mid-2000s, Messi brought home his country's fifth junior global title, considered a huge success in the South American republic; It was a history-making day for the Argentinean Football Association (AFA). Messi began his work with his homeland when Argentina's sports officials called on him to join the 2005 junior World Cup team. Always a heavy favorite with the Dutch fans, the national side, sparked by Messi, came first in the global contest in front of the Amsterdam (Netherlands' capital) crowd, an international sporting platform to numerous unknown footballers. Thereupon, Messi collected two special awards in Holland: The Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe.

Futbol Club Barcelona: 2005- 2006 Season

The breakthrough season for the team and Messi came in 2005-06. Three of Barcelona's Spanish titles can be attributed to Messi: Domestic League, Cataluña Cup, and Spanish Supercup — beginning a new period of success for Spain's most popular club and topping the TV sports rankings in the European nation. On that occasion, Messi also amassed three individual trophies.

On September 27, 2005, before a crowd of several fans and spectators at Barcelona's Nou Camp Stadium (among the world's major football stadia), star youngster Messi made his debut as a local player in the European League Championship (against Italy's Udinese). He competed with Barca until his injury, six months later. In spite of playing without Messi, however, the club earned the famous Champions League, one of the four big international events on Earth, along with the Olympic Games (Winter and Summer), and the FIFA World Cup.

In the same year, the prolific scorer Messi was named as Europe's best young player by Tuttosport (a magazine from Italy), gaining the Golden Boy Trophy, by passing several sportsmen such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

Curiously, Spain is home of one of the world's largest populations of foreign-born athletes (along with France, Canada and the oil-rich Kingdom of Qatar) such as Eulogio Martínez (Paraguay, football), Nina Zhivanevskaya (Russia, swimming), Juan Domingo de la Cruz (Argentina, basketball), Glory Alozie (athletics, Nigeria), and Juan Pérez (Cuba, waterpolo). By the end of 2005, Messi was one of the last athletes to become a Spanish citizen (dual citizenship), making him eligible to play as a Spanish player in the National League.

FIFA 2006 World Cup

Historically, Argentina has the honor of being the third Third World country to capture the global contest after Uruguay (1930 & 1950) and Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). Due to this tradition and thanks to its world-beating players on European soil, the Argentine football squad had become one of the top favorites to gain the 2006 FIFA Cup, but they finished sixth overall (ahead of three Europeans squads: England, Ukraine and spain), after losing to host Germany in the quarterfinals. Immediately, Argentina's soccer fans blamed José Pekerman, national coach, for the defeat against Germany. Post why? Incredibly, Messi was excluded to play that game.

Certainly, Messi had dissapointed 2006. Although, he made his long-awaited debut in the World Cup as he led Argentina -two-time winner of the men's football World Cup (1978 & 1986) – to win its first points following a triumph over Serbia-Montenegro (former Yugoslavia). In Germany, he played three of Argentina's five football matches.

During the 2006 World Cup, Messi became Argentina's most youngest footballer to attend the FIFA Cup. The following year, Messi and his fellow Argentine players finished as runner-ups to Brazil in the 2007 America's Cup on Venezuelan soil.

Spain's 'Football War'

Throghout his 2006-07 season, Messi had become a regular player in his European squad, competing on equal terms with senior players and attracting huge numbers of interested fans. It was truly an inspiring moment. However, he withdrew from the Spaniard Football League due to an injury (a game against Real Zaragosa).

With better health and upon spending three months on South American soil, Messi went back to Spain, playing in the match between Barcelona and Racing de Santander. Soon after, he made a hat-trick when his club drawn 3-3 with Real Madrid, a match between the two most popular teams in Spain (better known as "The Clasico"). Since decades ago, these matches have been labelled the "Spain's Football War", attracting the largest average audience in the European country and numerous regions around the world, especially in soccer nations. In fact, it is a battle which is being won by Barca's team in recent years.

Messi's Hand of God Goal

As he entered his 20s, by 2007, he picked up a total of 14 individual trophies inside and outside Spain, a new personal record over his professional career. But this was not all. Evoking the style of Argentina's former star Maradona, Messi, was dubbed "Messidona" in the course of an impressive career as a sportsman.

During a never-to-be-forgotten game, on April 18, 2007, the Barcelonese club got two goals from Messi to defeat Getafe CF in the semis of the Copa del Rey; one goal inspired comparisons to Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal against England's squad at the 1986 Mexico City World Tournament — it appeared that Messi may have knocked the ball into the net with his fist. In fact, this was great news both for Barcelona and the whole country. Nobody could imagine this feat. His fellow player Deco said, "It was the best goal I have ever seen in my life".

2007-2008 Campaign

Over the course of the season, Messi was in the spotlight as he was regarded as the world's top footballer by experts, sportswriters, coaches, players, and sports administrators. Meanwhile, Messi was elected as one of the 14th Best Male Athletes in 2007 by a total of 422 AIPS (International Sports Press Association) members from 94 countries – ahead of South Africa's rugby star Bryan Habana and Rafael Nadal, a tennis player from Spain .

After making a record in soccer world — scored five goals over a span of seven days– Messi helped Barcelona to become one of the four leaders in the first class Spaniard championship. He was the answer to their lack of versatility in attacking positions. In fact, he sees Barcelona through the eyes of a lover. Additionally, he scored also two goals in the UEFA Champions League. In beginning 2008, Messi celebrated his 100th match.

In March, the star athlete was forced to drop out of the Champions League because of an injury. Following over a month, he returned to the line-up, competing with Cristiano Ronaldo, considered among the globe's finest footballers. Under Messi's guidance, however, the Barcelonese club was eliminated from the European championship, showing the effects of his injury. Certainly, Messi had not a strong performance in this season, winning only two unofficial events (Beckenbauer Cup in Germany and Joan Gamper Trophy). In July of that year, on the other hand, Messi was appointed as the captain for the first time in a friendly match against Scotland's Dundee United.

Subsequently, the Barcelonese soccer club paid tribute to Messi's perseverance: Wearing the shirt number ten for the first time (historically given to the leading scorer), the number worn by former stars such as Romario Souza of Brazil, Hugo Sotil of Peru and Maradona, messi began a new period in Barca, few weeks prior to 2008 the Summer Games.

Messi At the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Argentina earned its first soccer medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Games, after falling to Uruguay's side in the gold-medal match. Then, the national contingent was asked to replace Uruguay in the 1976 Montreal Games, but it did not accept.

During the Centennial Games in the States, on August 3, 1996, the Argentine team was runner-up to Nigeria (sub-Saharan Africa) -matched its performance in the 1920s. In the 26th Olympiad, the silver medalists were Roberto Ayala, José Chamot, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Sensini and Diego Pablo Simeone, Ariel Ortega, Hernan Crespo, and Claudio López, among others footballers. Over the next years, by 2004, the Spanish-speaking republic placed first in the Athens XXVIII Summer Games upon their victory over Paraguay, a feat never before accomplished by a male squad from Argentina in the men's soccer Olympic Cup.

Messi was Latin America's top hope for a medal in the 2008 Olympiad. Nonetheless, there were troubles to send Messi to Beijing: his club did not approve his Olympic participation. After a long-running conflict between the Spaniard club and AFA (Argentinean Football Association), Messi was eligible to represent his nation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won his second major global event following a convincing triumph over Nigeria, one of the most extraordinary results in the history of the Olympic Championship. It was interesting to note that Messi was a great Olympian champ in the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Unlike Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) -a long-standing senior player from Brazil– and Maradona, Messi has won an Olympic gold medal after Argentina defeated six countries in the men's Olympian football championship in the Games of 29th Olympiad in mainland China, becoming the first world-class soccer player to win a trophy in the Modern Olympics since the early 1950s when Ferenc Puskas took the Hungarian team to its first Olympian title in the Finland Summer Games.

The Soccer Tournment included some strong names such as Brazil, Belgium, Holland, and Cote d'Ivoire.There, this Spanish-trained professional player also helped Argentina to win their second straight Olympic title; the nation's fourth Olympian medal in men's football. As well as earning the gold in the People's Republic, Messi was regarded as one of Latin America's foremost Olympic athletes. Nonetheless, his trophy was overshadowed by the wins of Michael Phelps, Usain Powell of Jamaica (3-time Olympic gold medalist) and other champions.

2008-2009 Season

After being part of the Olympic gold-winning squad in 2008, Messi won the world's best footballer by FIFA (the world's governing body of soccer).

In beginning 2009, Barcelona's 2-1 win over Racing de Santander was one of Messi's most notable matches, scoring both goals in the last 45 minutes. Messi entered the match when its club was defeated (0-1), but he confirmed his international status when he was able to break down a Santander defense. During the game, Spain's team made its 5,000 goal with Messi.

After making worldwide headlines on Spaniard soil, he was a key player when his club had a convincing 6-2 win over Real Madrid at Santiago de Bernabu Stadium in Spain's capital city — Without a doubt, one of the greatest games of Messi's athletic career. As has traditionally been the case, this a match attracted several neutral fans across the globe. Messi's other important achievement was when Barcelona's side finished first in the unofficial event Joan Gamper Trophy for the third time in a row. In 2008, he came away with 10 individual awards.

His Play Speaks For Itself

By the time the 2009-10 season, Messi brought about a sporting revolution at Barcelona. Astonishingly, his side won all the championships. For these wins, some experts and sportswriters believe he is better than Maradona and Pele.

Upon claiming five prestigious competitions — the Champions League, the UEFA Supercup, the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey), the National League, and the Spanish Supercup — Messi was able to lead Barcelona side to victory in the FIFA Club World cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the turn of the 2009, becoming Spain's most popular person and making Barcelona one of the world's most successful clubs in football history. Apart from winning these events, he collected over 15 individual awards in the Americas, Persian Gulf, and Western Europe: World Football of the Year, Alfredo Di Stefano Trophy, World Selection, Best Player in the Club World Cup, and Champions Trophy, among other trophies.

In April 2010, one of the most interesting statistics came from Messi when he became Barcelona's first footballer to score four goals in the Champions League-all against Arsenal FC Likewise, he made a name for himself in soccer world as he was Barcelona's top scorer in the Champions League (twenty-five goals). Later on, Messi helped the club to capture the Spanish league, as well as winning two special trophies as the Best Player.

Spain: The Best Domestic Football

Not all of Messi's play was acclaimed in 2010. Despite the optimism following Messi's strong performance in Western Europe, Argentine side was eliminated by Germany (0-4), allowing it to secure a top five position in the FIFA Global Tournament; one of Messi's most disapponting results in this period.

The men's football team of Argentina departed for Africa in the quest of their third Global Cup. From the beginning, Los Celestes entered the 2010 South Africa World Cup as a front-runner to win the title. Prior to being eliminated in the quaterfinals, the South American nation had four wins: Nigeria (1-0), South Korea (4-1), Greece (2-0), and Mexico (3-1). Ironically, the Spanish national team won the Global Cup for the first time.

Although one of the most prominent sportsmen in this Century, Messi has not won a World Cup (2006 & 2010). In sub-Saharan Africa, his production was poor: He did not score a single goal. Up to now, his results pale in comparison with Maradona and Pele.

2010-2011 Season

In September 2010, Messi's play captivated the audience, from experts and sportswriters to fans, setting new Spanish and European records. For the third consecutive time, the star player became top scorer in the Champions League. It was unbelievable. In the whole event, the sport's greatest footballer was a "perfect machinery". Spearheaded by its idol Messi, the Barcelonese club amassed two tournaments – The national tournament and then Champions League for the second successive year, sparking off celebrations in the Spaniard city of Barcelona. In the meantime, he gained the FIFA Ballon d 'Or. These wins have helped construct an excellent relationship between Messi and his fans inside and outside Spain. In his native country, however, there is another atmosphere.

America's Cup

Argentina's side was upset by Brazil in the finals of the 2007 South American Cup (there Messi appeared in all six of his nation's games). Four years later, the traditional event was held in Argentina. There, the host nation entered the regional contest, but it did not even make the semis. On the eve of that event, Argentina was a gold-medal contender well ahead of Brazil and Uruguay.

Unfortunately, Messi could not do anything. In spite of his extraordinary achievements in Western Europe, the amazing Latino player was unable to lead the Argentine side to win the Copa America for the second time, being strongly criticized by Argentina's football fans.

The local squad had two draws with Bolivia (1-1) and Colombia (0-0) before defeating Costa Rica (3-0) and falling to eventual champion Uruguay (4-5) in the quarter-finals. In his own land, Messi did not score a single goal (except on a penalty) over the course of the Latin American championship. Undeterred, he departed for Spain.

Undoubtedly, some soccer fans do not understand why Argentina's national team can not win international tournaments with the world's most prominent soccer player.

2011-2012 Season

Spearheaded by Messi, the Barcelonese club captured the Spanish Supercup on in August 2011. With 8 goals, Messi was the top scorer in the national contest, ahead of Raúl González Blanco. Within a few weeks, they also won the European Supercup. On December 18, 2011, Barcelona won the Club World Cup by beating Brazil's Santos (4-0). There, Messi was the tournament's most valuable athlete. Astonishingly, Messi became the top scorer (236 goals) in Barca's history on March 31, 2012.

An Advocate for the Rights of Children

Latin America's remarkable football player Messi is regarded as Argentina's long-standing advocate for the rights of poor children. By 2007, he created a self-named foundation, whose principal aim is to improve education and health care of the future generation of Argentina's boys and girls. Recently named UN Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Messi works closely with the international organization, increasing global awareness and providing financial aid to programs for children and mothers on Earth.

Indian Tourism – Bane Or Boon?

Ever since the tourism boom in India, local environmentalist groups are clamouring about the threat that a rapidly expanding tourist industry poses to the country's heritage and environment.

The Bane

This begs the question, who is harming the country's heritage and environment in reality, the locals or the tourists?

Is it the tourists who are pilfering the country's heritage and making a mockery of environmental regulations? Or should we actually credit it to our own insensitive citizens and officials, who do not give a hoot about the heritage or the environment – if it means they can make a few extra bucks!

Tourists move around, explore, shop, and then go back; they do not poach, deforest, pollute the rivers, misuse the land, or flout the environmental regulations of the country – they actually have more entertaining things to do with their limited time in a foreign land!

Rarely, does a tourist deface a heritage structure, it's usually the local majnoos graffiti 'Raju loves Meena' that is seen on the structures, and not 'Jim loves Jenny'.

The Boon

Fact 1: Tourism is India's largest industry; it brings in 15% of foreign exchange income; employs 9% of our population; significantly contributes to the GDP – as reported by several surveys – in short it's a boon for India.

Fact 2: Tourism offers global exposure; fresh perspectives and new trade avenues.

Fact 3: Revolutionary tourism practices enforced by the World Travel & Tourism Council and other such institutions are promoting geo and eco tourism practices that inspire respect for other cultures and environmental diversities. All that is left for us to do is to ensure that we ourselves and our officials respect and follow these practices.

India – Incredible India

India is a land of many cultures and tourism has increased the appreciation and understanding of the cultural melting pot of: passions, colours and spices that make India unique. Tourism in fact, creates a bridge of tolerance and acceptance among varied: races, ethnicities, nationalities and faiths, which promotes peace and prosperity – and not the destruction of ecology.

As a great man once said "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's life time. "

Environmental Issues Affecting the Travel Industry

Protecting the environment is now one of the most talked-about and hotly-debated topics across the globe. Many companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create products or make their products environmentally friendly. An example is the electric car that is being looked at as a viable option to that of the present gasoline powered car. In 2009 world leaders met in Copenhagen to discuss ways in which they can prevent global warming and reduce on the effects of climate change, in effect protecting the environment. The travel industry too has not been left out of this issue. In an industry where the number of people engaged in international travel has been predicted to reach the billion mark in 2010, there is concern about its contribution to the damage done to the environment. Also like every other industry the travel industry needs to be concerned about ways of doing business that are environmentally friendly. Outlined below are some of the environmental issues affecting the travel industry which stakeholders need to address and in some cases seek out long term solutions.

1. Aviation which ferries hundreds of thousands of tourists across the globe is of great concern to those seeking to protect the environment. A major concern for the industry is greenhouse gas emissions and their implication for climate change. Aviation produces at least two percent of emissions. One way the aviation industry is working on this problem is by rolling out newer planes that have fuel efficient engines which means less carbon emissions. However not all airlines especially in the poorer countries can afford buying new aircraft.

2. Mass tourism. With the cost of travel becoming cheaper and more and more people venturing further away from their countries to places that were previously inaccessible but can now be reached because of air transport, areas of environmental and historical significance are becoming crowded. This is putting pressure on ecosystems within these areas and threatening the flora and fauna. Also climate change is going to mean that certain places will not favour visitors because of weather conditions becoming extreme which will lead to overcrowding in other places with more favourable weather conditions. Again this presents a danger to the ecosystems in the overcrowded areas and to the tourism of the area.

3. Deforestation. In spite of the worldwide call to protect the environment there are still areas where massive logging is taking place. This is also contributing to destruction of flora and fauna and is a threat to the tourism in those areas.

4. With the call to go green affecting all industries across the globe the tourism industry has not been left out. There is pressure on those who are in the industry to find methods of doing business that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. For example can the hotel industry build hotels that are more environmentally friendly? What methods can they use to conserve energy and reduce on chemicals that are used in the dry cleaning of tons of laundry used in the industry?

5. Human encroachment. With populations continuing to grow worldwide there is now competition between man and animals for space. Humans are now encroaching on areas like National Parks that are protected and marked for wildlife. This has led to reports of people and their livestock being killed by wild animals which in turn leads to people hunting and killing these animals that are considered to be a threat. This is a threat to the tourism of the area. Human encroachment is also forcing animals to move away from their habitat to other areas where they can not survive leading to the extinction of certain species.

Top 5 Most Exotic Beaches of Morocco

From sandy west coast beaches cushioned by Atlantic Ocean, journey north to Al Hoceima, which is a Mediterranean town with high Mountains along exotic beaches to enjoy, outdoors lovers like a lot such places. The kingdom of morocco offers to visitors a peace of mind with a lot of natural beautiful sightseeing's and sandy soft cool beaches. Some of famous morocco beaches like Dakhla and Taghazout in Agadir are considered the most attractive beaches for ski boating, wave riders and in the whole country.

1- Essaouira:

With -green water, Essaouira beach is one of the world class vibrant beach in Essaouira presenting the scene of windsurfing, historic walled villages and crescent smooth sand. You can do some amusement with kite surfing after learning from shredders or at your own skill.

2- Al Hoceima:

Surprisingly independent with modern resorts, this beach is fully western look with a lot of visitors. This beach is surrounded by high hills with trees in the north city of morocco and best place to spend your morocco holidays. You can see many Tarifit Berber speakers (locally called Tamazight) on beach with their traditional settings.

3- Legzira:

Country's most unique beach lies in between sidi Ifni and mirleft town in the south of Agadir tourism beach. Legzira beach is very famous for its natural beautiful arches and stone cliffs especially one which stretches across 90 feet of beach. Its majestic formation sparkles in different startling colors. Soak up more sunrise while stying at cheap morocco resorts located near beach and enjoy sunset in your cheap morocco holidays in natural environment.

4- Sidi Kaouki:

Situated near a small village of barbers with their camels and horses, which take you down to the beach as there is not too much to see in this small town of Sidi Kaouki. Intrepid travelers like a lot the stretched white empty sand beach which sometimes shows the view of awful war field but with less temperature in spring and winter it is converted into a wonderful beach with fresh air. Auberge de la Plage is an inexpensive hotel to stay with cheerful staff and traditional environment.

5- Asilah:

On the beautiful Atlantic coast in northern morocco, Asilah is bookend by golden sweeps of sand near the old walled city. Due to its exceptional and sea views, this beach is considered nicest joyful beach of the country. You can reach there with a taxi or caliche as it is some miles distance in south of old Medina city.

All the beaches are considered the very famous and incredible as their structure is unique and beautiful. Most of sea lovers and visitors come on these extraordinary beaches for enjoying their cheap morocco holidays. To fill up your mind with the beautiful scenery of sandy beach curves, spend some time in cheap morocco resorts for few days to exploit your amusement of sunset at stunning beach.

Exploring the World of Mills Pride Closet Organizers

Mills Pride offers a number of effective organizers for the closets within your home. This company understands that closets often experience the burden of disorganization. Seeing that closets are the most mismanaged and abused areas of the home, Mills Pride offers an extensive collection of closet organizers that can add simplicity, innovation, and organization to the home. Whether you have a large, walk-in closet, or a basic, small closet, this company has something for you. Here, we will explore the world of Mills Pride closet organizers.

If you want to find a closet system for a particular room in the home, Mills Pride has many that are available. You can choose closet organizers that are for the home office, the bath area of ​​the home, the kitchen, the dining room, the family room, the master bedroom, the guest room, a room that houses children, and even a recreational room! You can make use of the large selection of Mills Pride closet organizers in each and every room in your home, depending on the needs that you have.

There are numerous styles of closet organizers that you can purchase from this particular company. They have many closet modulars designed for different sizes, shapes, and depths of closets around the home. For example, if you have a large, walk-in closet, there are many styles that are suitable for this type of space. However, if you have a simple and small kitchen or bathroom closet, you may select a number of closet organizers, or just buy base components. You should carefully measure the amount of space that your closet has prior to ordering a closet organizer to ensure that you are buying a suitable product for your home.

Mills pride closet organizers are created using the finest materials and innovative designs. This company tests all of the products that are selected to be placed on the market, prior to being sold to customers. Mills Pride takes great satisfaction in being able to guarantee the quality of their work, their materials, and their finished product. If you want to purchase a closet organizer that is sturdy, built to last, is checked for quality, and comes with a guarantee of high quality, Mills Pride is the best place to shop!

When you purchase entire closet organizers that are created in a modular design, you will receive an assortment of hanging areas for your clothes, storage bins to place handbags and shoes in, drawers in all sizes, and even an assortment of shelves. This makes it quite easy to easily store all your clothes, accessories, and many other items. If you purchase certain models, and move or decide to implement the use of a larger closet, Mills Pride will allow you to upgrade your current unit.

As you can see, Mills Pride is a great place to purchase an assortment of closet organizers. You can select from single piece organization units, to large modular sets for those bigger closets. You can also select units that are specific to various rooms throughout your home.

Do Travel Agents Get Free Trips?

There are some instances where travel agents can travel for free, but for the most part they do come out of their pocket. Below are three instances where travel agents can rack up extra savings and put money back into their pockets.

I will share my savings experience as a home-based agent, which has caused me to save hundreds of dollars!

Get Paid on Retail or Sale Pricing

When I travel as an insider, I get paid when I book travel for myself (and of course I get paid when I do it for others). The price I pay could be the same as any one that is not part of the industry, the difference would be I get a check and you do not! Commissions are already built-into the price of what you see online or what your travel agent quote you already has the commissions built-in. (They are never in addition to price quoted, if you are told extra fees need to be added to cover commission … run)

Travel at Net or Wholesale Pricing

Now, if I decide that I want to travel at a lower cost and forgo my commission, I still have to pay the net cost, I just would not get paid for the trip. You can get travel at great bargains if you travel this way!

But, I must add that various agencies may have 'special' discounted trips that agents can take for themselves or sell to their clients and STILL get a commission! I love these because your getting paid AND the rates can be even better than net rate PLUS you have a great deal you can offer to your clients. Only downside is that there may be a limit on how many can travel and restricted to specific dates.

Travel on the Industries Dime

What about those really dirt cheap trips? Yes, dirt cheap destinations do exist and are exclusive for travel agents and are typically known as FAM trips or Familiarization trips. These trips are more educational for travel agents and teach agents about the property or destination experience they are visiting.

Vendors invite agents on these 'FAM' trips so they can get more in-depth knowledge to share with their clientele. The goal is to promote to get more bookings for those properties or destinations. Prices for these trips are such a steal that they might as well be free!

Just to recap, travel agents pay for their trips in four ways:

1. Travel at retail pricing & get paid the already built-in commission

2. Travel at retail minus already built-in pricing (therefore no commissions are paid)

3. Travel at wholesale plus get a commission (vary per agency and limits dates & quantity)

4. Travel on a FAM trip – steeply discounted trips (exclusive to travel agents

5 Reasons to Be in the Restaurant Business

Restaurants can be found in almost everywhere that you may go and this is proof that this kind of business is really good. Every once in while, someone makes a decision to open up a restaurant for whatever reasons he / she has. There are evidently many reasons why people choose to open such business and you do not need to have the same reasons. You just have to evaluate what you want and to help you out, here are 5 reasons why you should be in the restaurant business.

The fact that all people need to eat is one of the main reasons why you should be in the restaurant business. People can actually cook their foods on their own at home but sometimes there are people who choose to eat in a restaurant, the busy people in particular. Because they do not have enough time to cook at home, they prefer to go out and eat. In addition, during special occasions or events, there are people who choose to celebrate in a place other than their home and they want to taste different types of foods.

Considering the fact that people need to eat, somehow you can be assured that the chance of your business to become a failure is smaller and this is another reason why you should be in a restaurant business. As long as you know what the people want and what they are looking for, you are going to be just fine. You just have to be creative and imaginative when it comes to the foods that you are going to prepare. If you want a lot of people to come to your place, then you need to come up with something new, unique and delicious. With this, you can surely keep the people coming to your place.

If you love to cook a large variety of foods, then a restaurant business is going to be great for you. Although starting up this kind of business does not really require you to be someone who loves to cook, it's definitely better if you do. When you are doing something that you really love, then the results / outcome would be better than doing something that you do not have that much interest in.

Having a place where a lot of people pass by every single day is another sign that you should start-up a restaurant business together with your passion for cooking. If you have a really good place that's accessible, many people would instantly know that your business exists and this means that you do not need to spend too much money for advertisements.

And of course, money is the last reason why you need to be in a restaurant business. Along with all the reasons stated above, if you have enough funds to open up a restaurant, then you should go ahead with starting up your own.

However, if you feel that you are not really interested in this kind of business, that's the time when you can look into other options available.

How to Travel With Books – Advantage and Disadvantage of Travel Books

Is it necessary to purchase a travel book or is it realistic that we can get similar information from other resources? Usually, most individuals have a major question on buying a travel book. So here are the pros and cons of purchasing one such book.

Advantages of a Travel Book

A travel book, which may be a paperback or e-book, comes in handy while traveling. Glancing through a travel book enables you to understand the custom and culture of a particular place in the world. So you can adapt yourself to that particular environment and stay there comfortably for longer periods.

  1. They Come In Handy – The travel guide comes in various forms such as, e-books, paperbacks and the file formats. You can have easy access to these books, which would assist you with all details compatible to the region you are traveling to.
  2. They Provide Enormous Information – Electronic or traditional travel guides provide you with answers to all types of questions such as how to learn some sayings that can be used in the place where you are traveling to? How to get data on where to reside, what to see and where to eat? How to get a clear knowledge about the history of a specific region or the atmosphere that it has?
  3. They Suit To Your Requirements – To access full information about a specific country or a region, both types of general and specific travel books are made available. The e-book may easily fit into your e-book reader whereas the paperback can fit into your backpack.

Disadvantages of Travel Book

  1. The Price – The e-book and paperback travel guides are very expensive compared to the information obtained from travel websites or from those who have moved or traveled to that region.
  2. Qualitative Images In Travel Books – Most travel books are in black and white. Only a few e-books consist of colored photos. Hence make a thorough revision before purchasing a travel guide or an e-book.
  3. Travel Books Make The Trip Less Natural – Traveling can be made more spontaneous by acquiring suggestions from locals than from travel books.

Conclusion

Considering travel books is essential while you are scheduling to travel. At the same time, never fail to revise the pros and cons in order to make the trip, the most memorable one.

Impact of Technology On The Field of Arts And Entertainment

Nearly everyone enjoys the different types of entertainment, and some people enjoy even more being entertainers. They want to become actors, comedians, dancers, singers. We used to go inside theatres after a hard day's work to relax and see our favorite plays. But only in the last hundred years have we been able to record sound and pictures and to broadcast them through air. These improvements have brought fun and entertainment to every corner of the world and into most of our homes.

Technology has indeed made it possible for us to see entertainment in a new light. For one, technology has made it also possible for us to store our memories. Actors and singers long dead seem to come to life again every time their films or records are played. We can store a seemingly countless number of these records and films in CDs, hard drives and other storing devices like our computer. This makes it possible for us to entertain ourselves almost anywhere- at home, at the office, at the park, the bus; as long as we bring our devices with us. One can actually live without TV these days as long as one has a computer device and internet connection.

The world of entertainment has grown tremendously, and it can teach us as well as entertain us. Today, broadcasting is the most important form of popular entertainment. But now it is challenged by still newer inventions. Video playback and recording equipments make it possible for home viewers to buy or record their favorite shows. Many classic movies are already available for home viewing. This new equipment may encourage many viewers to spend fewer hours watching network offerings of situation comedies and action dramas. And now, we can record, transfer, and produce our own videos using cellular phones.

At the same time, the internet has revolutionized viewing habits in another way. The internet provides information on a lot of sources for movies, music, and other forms of entertainment. With internet connection, people can bring programs directly into their computer by doing downloads and many of these downloads are offered for free. Not only does it provide entertainment but we can even do some transactions like when you want to buy stun guns online.

The internet offer entertainment on almost all particular interests- music, news, and special information such as stock markets, weather, and social networking. These sources are made available to us faster than ever, as fast as the stun gun effects. We can update on news even before they get broadcasted on TV through the different websites on the internet.

Never in recorded history have Entertainment and arts been so important in the lives of so many people. Modern inventions such as the internet have put nearly every person within reach of music and drama all day, every day, at home, and away from home. The internet has also made it possible for people not just become viewers but also the performers themselves as they are able to upload their own videos on different sites. The future of entertainment and arts is taking shape through technology and the people themselves.

Spain-Chile Relationship – A SWOT Analysis

Chile has been historically isolated as a result of its geographical and economic characteristics, with roughly 98% of all its imports arriving via ports. However, in the past 30 years the country has undergone a massive change, finding itself now in the vanguard of the Free Market movement – being a world leader in the signing of Free Trade Accords – and shedding its former protectionist economic policies.

As a result Chile has been at the forefront with respect to many Latin American countries when it comes to globalization and accessing worldwide markets. This in turn, has led to Chile sustaining economic growth similar to other emerging economies.

As part of this opening of the country to foreign markets the Chilean government recently redistributed political power on a regional basis with the incorporation of two new regions, the Arica-Parinacota and Los Ríos. The idea behind the creation of these two new regions was to foment revenues in tourism, mining, agriculture and communications, while at the same time aiming to empower the regions and decentralize power from the capital. The new regions were approved Mar. 15, 2007 by President Michelle Bachelet.

The government's policies have translated in strong economic growth, with the GDP in 2007 coming in at 5.2% versus 4% in 2006. On the downside, the country is feeling effects from the current global economic malaise, with unemployment hitting 7.2% in 2007. strong economic growth has also led to a sharp rise in inflation, up from 2.6% in 2006 to 7.8% in 2007 on the back of higher petroleum prices and the ripple effect on food prices, coupled with adverse weather conditions.

It should be noted that Spain's economy is also going through a rough batch, with unemployment hitting 9.6% for the first quarter of 2008 – the highest it's been in three years – the third consecutive quarter of rising unemployment. This sharp increase in unemployment has even stoked concerns the Spanish government may run-out of funds to pay unemployment benefits in September.

Still – and despite the domestic nature of current Spanish press with respect to the collapse of its construction sector and rising unemployment – the general perception of Chile in Spain is one of a Latin American country that has undergone a rigorous economic policy that has led to its being considered as an emerging country with a relatively low country risk.

In a roundabout way Chile could benefit from a struggling Spanish economy – which has been built on EU subsidies and a booming construction sector – as many Spanish companies feel they must diversify and look outside their borders for growth. Of particular interest are Spanish construction companies which have been heavily diversifying in Spain into the energy sector. Spanish companies are particularly interested in projects in Latin America, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia.

In Spanish business circles it is commented that Chile's economic stability – in sharp contrast to that experienced in other Latin American countries – has made the country attractive for investment. While mining remains a sector of interest, Spanish companies are also attracted to the banking, telecommunication and electricity sectors.

Despite the strong rise in Chile's inflation, Spanish analysts see continued economic stability in that country, with sustained economic growth, albeit at lower rates than in previous years given the current global economic downturn.

In general, it is viewed, however, that growth will most likely come from Chile's continued emphasis on exports and a drive to entice foreign investment. To further encourage foreign investments Chile must continue to ensure not only the liberalization of its markets and financial transparency, but seek to optimize its Free Trade agreements.

That said, it is often mentioned in Spain that the downside of Chile's economic growth is that wealth is not being equally divided among the Chilean population. More concretely, the difference between Chile's wealthy and its poor is becoming increasingly pronounced. In this age of corporate responsibility, and with its growing importance in the Spanish corporate world, such discrepancies in wealth distribution could come into play with respect to future investments, either in positive or negative light.

With respect to Trade, Chile exports more than it imports, with energy representing around 63% of Chile's exports in 2006, while it only imported around 25% in the same period.

Those figures are misleading, however as Chile has limited domestic energy resources, with the country importing the majority of its energy needs. Chile has shown a reliance on natural gas exports, in particular those coming from Argentina. Since 2004 – when Argentina began restricting its natural gas exports – Chile has been revising its energy policy.

Outside of energy, Chile also exports significant agricultural goods (fruits and horticultures), representing around 20% of all exports in 2006, while it only imported 7% in this category for the same year. In 2006, manufacturing goods represented around 10% of all of Chile's exports, while it imported close to 60% in the same category of goods.

Or in other terms, Chile's export structure is basically divided equally between industrial (45%) and mining (45%) and the remaining 10% in agricultural goods.

Within the industrial products, the largest export items are cellulose, methanol and chemical products. Of increasing importance in the last decade are forest products, salmon and wine.

It should be mentioned that while Chile is attempting to diversify away from its dependence upon the semi-manufacturing of copper – a product that represented 60% of the country's exports in the 1970s – to 35% in 2004, this product is still overly represented in the country's export basket and the Trade Balance as a result of global demands and rising market prices for this commodity.

Copper exports in 2007 represented roughly 45% of the total exports on a Trade Balance basis.

Chile exported $ 1.3 billion to Spain in 2007, down slightly from almost $ 1.4 billion in 2006. By comparison, Chile exported $ 8.4 billion in 2007 to the United States, slightly down from $ 8.9 billion in 2006. With respect to imports, Chile received $ 845 million in goods from Spain in 2007, up from $ 708 million in 2006. With respect to the US, $ 7.3 billion of North American goods were imported in 2007, up sharply from the $ 5.6 billion Chile imported in 2006.

PRESS ANALYSIS

Despite Chile's positive economic story, that news is not hitting Spain – in fact, news coverage of Chile in Spain is close to non-existent. As an example, when several Spanish businessmen were asked to mention a current article that they had read about Chile they could not name one. Almost invariably the response had something to do with the Dictator Pinochet or the current president, Michelle Bachelet, who is seen as a something as a novelty, in line with Argentina's Cristina Kirchner.

Other recent news items related to Chile include: reports a Nazi "Doctor of Death," could be hiding in Chile; the closing of an investigation in the death of popular actor and singer 35 years after his death; Chile and Hawaii are both trying to get a contract for a giant telescope; A Chilean gang was busted with objects stolen from Europe; Ongoing news coverage of Peru's ex-president Fujimori who is being held in a Chilean prison; and the widespread access of internet in Chile.

There was widespread coverage of the EU-Latin America Summit in Chile, but again the coverage was geared for Spain's domestic audience, with the primary news being whether or not Venezuela's Chavez had apologized to Spain's King Juan Carlos I – or vice versa – after the Royal told the President to "shut up" at a summit last year in Chile.

When Chile is covered in the press, it is almost always in terms related to Spanish businesses that are operating in that country. Specifically, there are repeated stories related to various Spanish energy and telecommunications companies, but in general they lack depth and are not in and of themselves the types of articles that would entice investors.

There have also been recent articles about threats to Spanish companies.

Specifically, there has been negative press regarding the US businessman Douglas Tompkins (owner of Patagonia and North Face) who it is reported is buying up land in Chile. Reports in Spain claim Tompkins is trying to buy enough land to create a wildlife preserve in the south of the country – and which would run from the Andes to the sea, effectively cutting the country in two. There are concerns this could affect Spanish company Endesa which has plans to build hydroelectric dams near the project. In typical Spanish fashion of looking for extremely bizarre details, the ABC newspaper reported speculation is rife in the Chilean region that Tompkins could be planning on exporting water or even building a new promised land for some Jewish sect.

There are occasionally articles related to tourism, but these are most often related to trade publications. In general, the perception is that there are more articles on the Caribbean, Mexico and Peru than those published on Chile. One person interviewed for this report, said they were shocked that a family member was thinking of going to Chile for holidays instead of some place more "exotic."

There is next to no coverage of Chilean imports, although there is a moderate knowledge of the quality of that country's wines – but this is covered in select media aimed an even more select reader, which is perhaps not surprising given Spain's own personal, and abundant , history with wine.

This lack of knowledge is also backed up by a 2006 survey by the Spanish state agency CIS that noted that of those individuals polled on their viewing news habits, only 7.8% of the respondents said they watched "A Lot" of news related to Latin America , and 49% "Quite A Bit." The most popular items in Spain are related to news about the European Union, followed by those about the North Africa. News items regarding Latin America were the fourth most popular items (EU, North of Africa, US, and Latin America, in that order). In general, Spaniards identify more with European countries, and North Africa, although there are some indications of change. In a late 2007 CIS survey, 31% of those Spaniards polled thought that Spain should develop programs in Latin America to foment economic growth.

However, just the previous year the CIS noted that in terms of international politics, 56% of the respondents thought European Integration was extremely important, with only 8.6% showing concern about relations with Latin America.

It is interesting to note that this shift has also been accompanied with a rise in Latin American immigrants in Spain, accompanied with rising unemployment.

Amazingly, despite 85% of those polled saying they had never travelled to a Latin American country the vast majority believed the principal problem in Latin America was a lack of democracy, weak economies and corruption. Of those who had travelled to Latin America, the vast majority visited Mexico (24.5%), while only 5.7% went to Chile.

With respect to the perception of which Latin American politicians are implementing measures to further their economies, there has been recently a dramatic shift in favor of Chile. In a CIS report released May 29, 2008 (administered in Nov. 2007), on a scale of 1 to 10, Spaniards rated Chile's Bachelet as being the most effective Latin American leader with a 4.93 ranking. The next most highly ranked Latin American leader was Brazil's Lula with a 4.61 out of 10 ranking. Bolivia's Morales had received a 3.42 rating, while Cuba's Fidel Castro got a 1.82 out of 10.

While this recent survey is not exactly measuring the same criteria, it is interesting to note that of those polled in a 2006 CIS survey, 19% of them gave Brazil's Lula high marks, followed by Bolivia's Morales (16%). Only 6.6% of those Spaniards polled in that survey valued the job done by Chile's Bachelet, which in relative terms was only slightly higher than the 3.7% who amazingly thought that Cuba's Fidel Castro was doing a good job.

Despite the improvement in the perception of Chile's government, it remains clear that country's message is not reaching the Spanish public, but then this is a public where 35% of the population has never heard of the Latin American Summits.

SWOT ANALYSIS

Strength

  • As a result of its having the jump on other Latin American countries with respect to liberalizing its markets there is a generalized perception that in Chile there is an elevated sophistication and professionalism when dealing with Chilean businessman.
  • The Chilean telecommunications and software sectors are viewed as being consolidated and highly respected.
  • Tourism is a definite strength with not only majestic views, but also the added benefit that it's viewed as safe to travel to remote locations, unlike in several other Latin American countries. After all, what good is a vacation if you can not come home to develop the photos.
  • As mentioned repeatedly in this report, Chile's economy is seen as a definite bonus, with the government fully seeking to follow a Free Market model, and entice foreign investors.
  • A willingness – and business code – to allow foreign investors buy or create businesses in Chile without any type of restriction of discrimination toward foreigners.
  • A favorable tax regime, which avoids double taxation with Spain. Direct tax on Companies / Societies is 17% on profits; Indirect tax of VAT 19%.
  • Patent protection: Chile subscribes to strict patent protocol, including that of the Paris accord and recognizes those patents that were issued in other countries. Patents should be registered also in Chile to receive full protection.
  • Common language – Spanish – and in many respects a common culture and religion. This is not to be downplayed as Spaniards are notorious for there horrible grasp of foreign languages. o The current strength of the Euro also makes investments in Latin America attractive.

Weakness

  • As mentioned previously, one area that will increasingly draw criticism from stakeholders and activists is in the area of ​​distribution of wealth. In Chile the lines between those who have and those who do not have are increasing.
  • Chile's energy network / grid has shown signs in the past (1999) of needing further investments to avoid shortfalls in production and supply.
  • Chile's energy portfolio is certainly a weak point, which while the country does have some renewable energy sources – most notably in the area of ​​hydroelectricity – there is a deficit with respect to gas and oil, the result lending to supply shortages.
  • While Chile is "an open market" there is actually tight control on the distribution channels – roughly 80% of retail distribution is handled by 20% of the distributors, which would suggest that this area needs to be liberalized.
  • With respect to the above point, when introducing some consumer products distributors will demand additional support for publicity and promotions, for which the foreign companies will have to be willing to provide.
  • Given the tight control on the retail supply chain and distribution at times it is viewed that certain participants hold too much power when it is time to negotiate business terms.
  • While taxation is generally lower – except for alcoholic beverages (27%), there are also some barriers for the importation for motor vehicles and parts.
  • There have been some reports tighter controls on press freedom. In Spain there was coverage recently of a Committee to Protect Journalist report (May 23) that Chilean photographer Víctor Salas suffered a serious eye injury on Wednesday when he was struck by a police officer as he was covering a protest outside parliament in the southwestern city of Valparaíso. Salas works for the Spanish state news agency EFE.
  • While Chile's economy is a positive, it is also showing some signs of growth slowing down, and unemployment and inflation both rising.
  • For the most part Chile has avoided political financial scandals, although that has recently changed – and which oddly seems to be the product of a stuffy government process inherited from Dictator Pinochet. o Indeed, Pinochet remains a weakness in terms of branding and marketing, perhaps not helped by the ongoing leaks, trials and reports. On the other hand, Spain has something to offer in this area as it also seems to have recovered from a similar situation under Franco.
  • Some Spanish businessmen said they can not understand why there is not a full agreement between Chile and Mercosur, rather than just being an Associate Member.

Opportunities

  • Given the current makeup of Chile's energy sector – its dependence upon gas and oil, etc – this should provide the country an opportunity to invest in renewable energies, such as in solar and wind-power, areas in which Spain has several leading companies. Iberdrola, Acciona, Endesa, Gamesa, ACS amongst others are more than qualified to bring their technology and know-how to Chile.
  • Chile is also diversifying into the LNG market, an area where Spanish companies are world leaders.
  • Chile can be a platform to enter other countries given its vast Free Trade agreements. Specifically, foreign investors can take advantage of a Law signed Nov 23, 2002 that seeks to foment foreign investors to use Chile as base to enter other Latin American and global countries. Spanish companies and investors are especially suited to take advantage of such legislation given the cultural similarities and common language in the region.
  • Chile offers growth and investment possibilities in the construction sector, especially in the area of ​​building second homes.
  • Chile continues to offer important investment possibilities in the area of ​​tourism.
  • Chile offers a stable and dynamic market that is supported by a professional manner of doing business.
  • One sector that is currently undergoing spectacular growth, and which Spanish companies can bring their know-how and investments, is in the area of ​​"green" projects, related to sustainable growth, corporate responsibility and environmental protection.
  • The Chilean market is extremely competitive in terms of the relationship between price and product, which means that there is room when negotiating for value-added services or products when seeking positioning in the market and client-customer loyalty – something that Spanish companies can provide.
  • The Spanish government has made it a priority to invest in science and technology, meaning there could be clear opportunities to do business in Chile given that government's economic policies that also seek to foment investments in this sector.

Threats

  • There are continued supply concerns with respect to not only electricity, but also in the area of ​​agricultural products.
  • Chile must resolve its outstanding border disputes with Peru and Bolivia.
  • There does exist the threat of the influence from populist Latin American governments in Chile's politics, most notably from Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.
  • Given Chile's geography there does exist the constant threat of earthquakes.
  • Environmental concerns:
  1. Significant threats to Chile's freshwater and marine habitats are caused by the ever growing aquaculture industry – primarily salmon farming.
  2. The establishment of non-native tree plantations is considered by many to be the greatest threat to Chile's native forests.
  3. The primary environmental threats to Chile are air pollution from vehicle and. industrial emissions, water pollution from untreated industrial sewage.

COUNTRY PERCEPTIONS

With respect to what most positively affects a country's perception in Spain it must first be stated that Spain is very nationalistic. There is a love-hate relationship – some would say envy – with various countries based on historical incidents.

In addition, Spaniards love rankings and continually are publishing articles to show that they are in the vanguard. This at times is extreme, to the point where there have been articles comparing how many cigarette butts, or trees – or worse – can be found on the streets of various European capitals.

More specifically, Spaniards might admit that certain products from the US are top-quality, but they will not let that sway them from still dredging up the Spanish-American War of 1898 and complaining of the loss of territories. Americans are consistently portrayed as being naïve and religious fanatics, while at the same time being hypocrites. It is a common game in Spain among American ex-pats to look for the "strange or bizarre American news story" that Spanish media routinely publish.

In the same way, there has been extensive news coverage this year to celebrate the 1808 war again France – which while it freed Spain from the French was also the beginning of its decline in influence in Latin America. A weakened Spain subsequently found itself facing Wars of Independence in Venezuela and Argentina.

All to say, that Spain – and Spaniards – have a long memory, and some would argue an inferiority complex.

Spaniards, besides being nationalistic, are also idealists. Countries with the most positive image perceptions in Spain have a strong record in Human Rights and Democratic ideals, fortified by solid economic models. In this respect of equal importance are countries that can contribute in the areas of Culture and Art, and High Technology. Spaniards are big spenders who love the latest high-tech gadget, and in that vein luxury goods.

With this in mind, it is interesting that according to a recent study by BBC, only 31% of Spaniards consider it a positive factor that China is an economic powerhouse. Indeed, according to that study out of all European countries it is Spain that holds the distinction of having the most negative image of China.

On the backdrop of the above information, the typical Spaniard tends to associate his spending by what is popular and trendy, rather than as being related to a specific country.

By Robert Steven Duncan