There is something that needs to be said here about our good friends to the south, the good ole US of A and their change in attitude towards soccer and the World Cup. For years North Americans never took a liking to the beautiful game, partially because both Canada and the US sucked at it. This year in South Africa there are more Americans in South Africa cheering on “The Yanks” then any other travelling nation. Now, these are unofficial numbers, I am sure that there are a lot of transplanted Africans there from other participating nations, but I digress. The Americans are an intriguing bunch though, because they are so new to the soccer scene, hell they call it soccer instead of its more traditional and correct name, football. However, is this sports renaissance in the USA good for the game? The Americans have come out in droves and are a boisterous, proud nation of supporters and I commend them. However, I think the majority of the nation still doesn’t get the beauty of the game. Long has there been complaints that soccer players are “pansies” due to the fact that they are constantly diving. The act of diving is a cowardly act, but it gets results, there is only one official on the field and there is a lot of action going on for 90 straight minutes. More often then not the official makes a critical mistake and instant replays prove that, but in regular speed in the heat of the action you can see where the mistake was easy to make. The Americans have always been a progressive nation that is not scared to make changes. If there is a rule change that they believe will benefit the game without affecting its integrity then they will make that change, hello video replay in the NFL. The USA is a very powerful market where there is a lot of money to be made and FIFA knows this. There are arguments to be made that a successful showing in this 2010 World Cup will go a long way to growing the game in the US and thus stirring up a market that has deep pockets. Is this actually a good thing? Is FIFA actively working to break into the mighty USA? How desperate is Sep Blatter to grow the game in the USA? I actually overheard a couple of American men discussing the World Cup at the Chicago/O’Hare airport yesterday afternoon which got me to thinking and writing this blog. One of the gentlemen was criticizing the official that called back the go ahead goal in the Slovenia vs. USA game, which is fair because that call was shockingly bad. However, at one point the mid aged American man declared that FIFA should amend the offsides rule. Allowing the offending player to be at least 2-3 yards past the last defender when the ball is kicked, not level with the last man as the rule is currently written. His explanation for this is that the game is “too slow” and needs to “open up” which ultimately means, more goals. Perhaps Mr. Blatter should contact Mr. Gary Bettman of the NHL, he loves bending over for the American public. What I don’t understand is that the American public LOVES the NFL and major league baseball which arguably are some of the most boring sports on the planet behind only cricket and curling. Don’t get me wrong, I love the NFL and I get excited for Sundays, but is that because of the media circus surrounding the NFL or because it is a good game. IF you think it is a good game check out a CFL game or two, rubbish. The NFL consists of 4 – 15 minute quarters; the ball is in play on average for 2 minutes of every game, 2 minutes!!! That is 58 minutes of standing around, yet soccer is “too slow”. I love that the USA is becoming a soccer nation because I believe that it will ultimately help Canada become a better soccer nation, but at what cost? I truly hope that the Americans will accept the game for the way it is and will learn to adapt. Take a look at the way the MLS is managed and marketed and you can see why it is not a respected league in the world, it is too different. With any luck the MLS and North American soccer will continue to grow and adapt as opposed to grow and alter. As for that guy at the airport yesterday, you’re an idiot.
A lil less Soccer a lil more footie