I am about a day late on this, but I have to congratulate the U.S. Women’s National Team for their World Cup victory. The U.S. team managed to dismantle Japan in the finals, as they coasted to a 5 – 2 victory behind the power of an early hat trick by Carli Lloyd. The final game was surprisingly watchable, considering how ugly it was early on, the U.S. Team managed to score four goals in about 15 minutes. The scoring in this game happened so quickly that I didn’t even have time to turn on a television before the U.S. was up 3 – 0. I have to commend Japan for staying in the game and keeping it competitive even though they were down by four, there were even times in the game that I thought I would see a comeback, but the U.S. wisely held their lines and kept to the game plan. The major story of this year’s Women’s World Cup was gender equality. The women who played in this tournament not only played as hard as the men, but they also put on just as good of a show. I watched quite a few games if this tournament and I can honestly say that soccer is a sport in which the intensity of the women’s game often surpasses that of the men. FIFA needs to take a close look at what went on this summer in Canada, and they need to start paying the women better and treating the athletes with more respect. I know that women’s sports in general does not get the level of coverage of the male variation, but I believe that this World Cup, and the way all of the qualifying teams played, has done a great job in showing just how competitive and exciting women’s sports can be.
I didn’t think I would be writing about FIFA two times within the span of a week, but there have been some interesting developments in the international soccer world. Today, newly reelected FIFA president, Sepp Blatter announced he will be resigning from his position after 17 years in power. The news of Blatter’s resignation comes hot on the heels of allegations that his top lieutenant has been indicated in the bribery scandal that has been in the news. The news of the resignation all but solidifies the notions that Blatter not only knew of the money switching hands, but possibly received some money for allowing his organization to run in such a controversial way. Last week, after Blatter won his bid for reelection, he made a speech in which he stayed far away from the controversy and tried to proclaim a new season for FIFA, but now that we know his right hand man was part of the scandal he is trying to completely remove himself for the troubles of the organization. It is kind of funny that the changes in FIFA that Blatter spoke of in his speech will now include a change in president, but this organization needed to go in a different direction and quickly. I am actually extremely happy about the possibilities of real change coming to FIFA, the organization has been run the same way my whole life and there was never any reason to correct the issues, now with a new, Blatter free FIFA, soccer may get more modern regulations. As for Blatter, I don’t think his resignation will have any effect on this investigation. On Friday he was asked if he going to resign from his position as FIFA president and he stated, “Why would I step down? That would mean I recognise that I did wrong.” Well he has now stepped down and essentially claimed he is in the wrong, I expect this investigation to go on, and unfortunately for Blatter it may not end until he is in handcuffs.
Recently, there has been much news coverage of rampant corruption in the upper ranks of FIFA, which is the organization in charge of regulating the sport of soccer worldwide. Reports show that the corruption involves bribery to the tune of over 150 million dollars in order to secure broadcast rights and possibly the rights to host the World Cup tournament. This is not the first time FIFA officials have been in trouble for corruption, but this is big news since it comes on the heals of the designation of Qatar as host of the 2022 World Cup. The 2010 vote that gave Qatar the World Cup has been under scrutiny for years for several reasons, for one this country is in the desert so the average temperatures are well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and another is the fact that this tiny country has plenty of money to give out if need be, to potential voters. I don’t want to speculate that bribery was a part of Qatar’s World Cup 2022 designation, but many people are unhappy with that decision, and feel as though money was involved. One country that seems to be extremely upset with the choice of Qatar for the World Cup is the country that seemed to be front runner to get the tournament that year, the United States. I sense a hint of “saltiness” on the part of the U.S. since our country was spearheading the efforts for a revote, and not surprisingly has led the investigation into FIFA corruption. I understand that corruption is terrible, and that the currency passed in these illegal transactions was American dollars, but I just can’t shake the feeling that this investigation is personal. I can not condone the actions of the FIFA executives that took bribes, but I do think the U.S. came down with an extremely heavy hand. I guess this whole episode can be used as a lesson, if you slight a powerful adversary, prepare to face powerful retaliation. I don’t think FIFA will change much since they just reelected the same president, but I do hope they learn their lesson and act more ethically in the future.
Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, yet it seems to be completely forgotten in the United States. In this country soccer is not only a sport that many are uninterested in but it is also a sport, which is much maligned for no legitimate reason. The lack of interest in soccer is only intensified by the fact that the USA men have never managed win a World Cup, let alone make it to the finals. The USA women have managed to win two world cups in the short time the Women’s World Cup has been around, but that still has failed to give soccer a larger fanbase stateside. Soccer seemed to gain a resurgence of fans this summer as the U.S. men made an impressive run in the World Cup, but that quickly lost its thunder as the team failed to advance, and other sporting seasons began to take shape. I really enjoyed watching the World Cup this summer but when all of the fanfare died down I realized, I am not a real soccer fan, and like many other U.S. fans, I only enjoy the sport every four years. Soccer in the United States faces two major issues and both have to do with the more popular sports in this country. The first issue soccer faces in this country is the lack of young American talent interested in the game, children of this country are not exposed to soccer stars the way children in Brazil and Portugal are, kids here want to be the next Michael Jordan, and have absolutely no inclination of who soccer greats such as Pele or Maradona are. The second issue ties into the first, it is that the best young soccer players go play other sports that would guarantee them more fame and money stateside. The NFL is littered with great players who were once in love with soccer, the issue is kids are just not exposed to the benefits of the game as well as they are to the benefits of American sports. Soccer players overseas are making millions more than top athletes in American sports, but the American soccer league, the MLS, is paying Americans too little to aspire them to join. I don’t think soccer will ever be very big here in The United States, but with the way the Men’s team played in the last World Cup, and the talent on the Women’s team, I am certain the U.S. will be seeing more World Cup gold within the next 20 years.