Earlier this year, I was enjoying a beer with an American friend at a bar in LA. The patio we were sitting on overlooked a 3G field which had been dissected down the middle to accommodate two separate adult soccer games. After taking a sip from his Bud Light, my friend put down his glass, surveyed the scene and muttered, "fucking soccer."
Because he’s a yank, you may think such a sentiment is par for the course. But as a white male with an Adderal prescription and his parents’ credit card, my friend’s comment was actually quite unusual. Over the last few years, this breed of middle class American has grown to love soccer - or the EPL, or “The Arsenal” or whatever other misnomer they insist on giving the beautiful game - because it suggests they’re a learned sort with discerning taste and a full understanding of foreign culture.
So I reminded him of this, insisting that lots of Americans - Americans just like him - like soccer.
“No. American children like soccer. Adult Americans like real sports.”
Given the recent FBI investigation that will hopefully result in the arrest and conviction of 14 FIFA officials and - we can all pray - the head of that shill Sepp Blatter, I look back on my friend’s largely erroneous statement with great fondness.
Thierry Henry being given too much space by some crap player no one's heard of.
While we often hear about the likes of Stephen Gerrard, Thierry Henry and Nigel Reo-Coker (lol) heading to America to play out their careers and ‘raise the profile of the game in the States’, we rarely witness the rubbish performances of almost all of the MLS players surrounding them.
While we often hear about the Seattle Sounders filling the NFL stadium they play in to capacity, week in, week out, we never hear from the vast majority of the city who would instantly trade it all in to get their basketball team, the Supersonics, back from Oklahoma.
And while we remember Landon Donovan’s fruitful spell at Everton, we also don’t remember it at all.
In short, it always seems like the sport is about the break America. In reality, most of the people in those 50 states couldn’t give a shit about it - unless they are children.
I like to think this utter disdain for the game imbued the FBI with the desire to dismantle FIFA. Part of me wishes they started the investigation just to discredit the smug New Yorkers watching the EPL with an IPA in Greene Point. I really, truly hope they wanted to dish out the charges for the sole reason of keeping American soccer, for American children.
But whatever the reason, the successful conviction of the accused will be a victory for the sport. It will remind FIFA that they’re dealing with a global passion, not a millionaires’ black market that can pivot on the whim of a Russian oligarch and survive off the back of deception. When you finally pay the price for protecting the interests of sheiks, your succesors will realise that the interests of the fans are more important.
At the very least, this whole issue might knock about £5 off your average Premiership ticket.
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