Friday, June 23, 2006


Americans are Right to Shrug at Soccer

The love affair between the U.S. and soccer, that started with the U.S. women winning the World Cup in 1991 and dominating the sport ever since, and gaining steam with the U.S. men advancing in the 2002 W.C., has come to an end. The fault does not lie with the U.S. and our unsophisticated fan-base, rather the international soccer, er, excuse me, football, community has decided that we are not welcome.

The message was made clear by the ludicrous officiating.

In the June 17th match between U.S. and Italy during the 28th minute the Italian midfielder, Daniele De Rossi, gave Brian McBride a fierce elbow to the head, opening a gash under his eye, and earning De Rossi a red card. The Referee didn't like seeing the U.S. playing with a one man advantage so at the 45th minute the myopic referee, Jorge Lorrionda handed the U.S.'s Pablo Maestroeni a red card for excuting a routine slide tackle. And it needs to be noted that in addition to the fact that much more dangerous slide tackles were executed by both teams throughout the game, with not even a yellow-card showing for them, that Maestroeni actually kicked the ball before making contact with the Italian player. Clearly he was going for the ball and not the player. Nevertheless, the risible Lorrionda saw his chance to knock the U.S. down, and this is important, to do so before halftime.

Not content with his pre-half emasculation of the U.S. team, Lorrionda felt the need to prove his own manhood again early in the second half. In the 47th minute, just a few game minutes after Maestreoni's ejection, Lorrionda game U.S. Defender, Eddie Pope a second yellow card (which becomes a red card ejection)for a foul so innocuous that I can't even recall what it was.

Yesterday's game between U.S. and Ghana underscored the contempt that FIFA has for the U.S. Ghana scored in the 22nd minute after Hamino Draman steamrolled U.S. team captain Claudio Reyna to steal the ball deep in U.S. territory and score a quick goal. Draman's attack was probably legal but yesterday's referee, Merk Markus, was so whistle happy that a similar attack at any other point in the game would have been whistled to a halt. But since this attack had the clear promise of a Ghanese goal it was allowed to play out.

The U.S. played the game well, although not with the inspired agressiveness that they played against Italy. In the 43rd minute Demarcus Beasley won the ball deep in Ghanese territoy and made a masterful pass to the charging Dempsey who nailed the goal.

This could not stand. Three minutes later, again as the half was coming to a close, the referee felt the need to knock down the U.S. team. After just three minutes of celebratory play for the U.S., Merk Markus called an absolutely ridiculous foul against U.S.'s Onyemu that resulted in a penalty shot and goal for Ghana.

FIFA couldn't make their message any clearer: U.S. go home!

I've come to completely agree with Tim Park's recent essay in the Wall Street Journal wherein he outlines the root for my own disgust for soccer:
I know of no other sport where bad faith is so endemic, condoned and ritualized as in soccer, where lies and deception are ordinarily the rule.

Soccer is a game of anarchy and lawlessness. The U.S. is a nation of idealized democracy and rule of law. The two cultures do not mix.

Diego says: I watched the first half of the U.S./Italy game and agree that the red card issued the U.S. player for a slide tackle seemed wrong. I don't watch much soccer though so I don't know from experience what determines a yellow or a more severe red card. The World Cup to me is much like the Olympics, a good idea but subject to corrupt officiating and therefore not of significant interest. Not that Soccer was my favorite sport to begin with.


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