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Friday, December 3, 2010

U.S. loses bid for 2022 World Cup as millions said to be in state of near apathy.

Soccer futbol rant time. After the news that the U.S. has lost out on a chance to host the World Cup in 2022, suicide prevention hotlines have apparently been flooded with calls from despondent fans. JOKE! No, see, they haven’t because that scenario only occurs in countries that actually care about the sport. What I did see though was the almost universal reaction that this *loss* would now set the U.S. back 20 years in terms of soccer development here.


Are they out of their minds? Without getting into all the dynamics at work, the main thing is that the way we play the game internationally is a totally separate issue from how we promote and play it at a grassroots level. How we advertise our international game? A distant third from those two things.

Where the World Cup is hosted? Has even less of an effect.

I would love to see it happen here, but the idea that we are now somehow set back in terms of our game is misguided thinking at best, even though I might concede one or two points. Hosting a game could give the youth player something to aim for, and that having the game here might also show them that the world respects our abilities enough to let us host.

If that were really the case, those would be good things. However, they’re still such a small part of the overall problems the sport has here. Not hosting the game and thinking it hurts us is the same logic as believing that because we host one, we’ll win.

I’m sure Jerry Jones thought since the Super Bowl would be in Dallas this year that the Cowboys were going to automatically be a contending team too.

From a professional level, look to any other sport and show me one where the location of a championship game affects a team and their desire to win. Granted, all major sports in this country are already established, so there isn’t that same need to promote interest for a title game, let alone the actual game itself the way soccer has to. Ask any player in any sport though, and they won’t care where they play a championship game – as long as they get to play in one.

Having said that, soccer is a sport than can’t afford to promote outside the country while its development here suffers. To that end, they held this year’s Major League Soccer cup in Toronto – I said Toronto – and people are upset because we won’t host a World Cup in 12 years?

Sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. Build it up here first, then go forth O Pioneers! But don’t think because a World Cup *might* come here that we will then *own* and Americanize the game. The U.S. still needs to play this sport on the world’s terms.

All the U.S. has to do to overcome the bitter sting of tears here is simple though. Like, Al Davis simple: Just win baby. Consistently. We need to stop worrying about hosting a cup and focus on hoisting one.

Going into other countries and winning on their fields will give the U.S. game a hundred times the respect it thinks hosting one will bring.

Nor does where the World Cup gets played explain why we don’t make it past the first few rounds (uncreative, rigid and non-fluid play, inconsistent lineups, etc.). Maybe if we fielded a national team that trains together for more than a month during qualifiers without constantly shifting lineups. (A new MLS schedule that aligns with international play should help address another problem: The mid-season exodus of talent that disrupts the continuity needed by the national team.)

No, our game will not be set back 20 years for a very simple reason: it already is.


1 comment:

Ronald Searly said...

i think america's bid would have been more successful if they called the game "football" rather than "soccer". I don't think FIFA is going to become FISA any time soon!

but don't feel too bad - the english only got one vote other than their own and football is one of their two main national pasttimes (the other being drinking).