UEFA’s Vuvuzela Ban: Why Legislating Custom and Tradition is Problematic

UEFA has banned vuvuzelas from matches at all UEFA competitions. That includes the European Championships, the Europa League, and the UEFA Champions League.

My first reaction was: “That’s rather ignorant and authoritarian.” But then I realized that I had a bigger gripe. UEFA’s decision to ban vuvuzelas in European competition sets a very strange precedent. Continue reading

Coming Out of the Big Soccer Closet

Big Soccer

Amidst the bevy of muppetry that exists on Big Soccer, I sometimes find respite when I don’t feel like over-socializing, yet feel compelled to interact in more than 140 characters about things that most reasonable people would find as interesting as Paris Hilton discussing Sartre.

I’ve tried to make my significant other my soccer conversation partner through sheer force, but now I truly understand the plight of the missionary. No matter how suave one may be, converting the disinterested can border on impossible. But the same applies to stubbornness, which is why missionaries and the disinterested stubborn make such a magical pairing.

I digress.

Upon failing to covert her, I did what anyone in their right mind without an audience would do. I went online.

That was four years ago. Continue reading

On Soccer Talk Live, Jon Stewart and Horrible Television

Soccer Talk Live

Fox Soccer Channel’s Soccer Talk Live, hosted by former U.S. international Kyle Martino, is a painful, soul-crushing experience. Although it isn’t really Martino’s fault.

I wish there was something more positive to say, but at some point, the kid gloves need to come off. Many of those in the professional media will hardly consider challenging a connected institution like  Fox Soccer, even though feuds are great for publicity. And Fox Soccer Channel certainly won’t critique itself on its airwaves. But something has to happen.

It’s probably not much of a stretch to say that the U.S. soccer machine is an incestuous mess of symbiotic parties hardly capable of discussing hard truths about itself, probably out of fear of biting the already impoverished hands that barely feed them. While this fear is understandable, it is no way for the game to grow — that is, if you feel the media has a role in soccer’s growth and that the role is to challenge the status quo when the status quo needs challenging. Continue reading

Morning Joe

Futbol Frenzy Segment on Morning Joe?

Holy bejesus. I’ve seen it all.

I was watching Morning Joe this morning. Judge me on that if you will. I was kind of paying attention as Al Sharpton and Joe Scarborough talked Glenn Beck, Martin Luther King, and whether Sharpton will allow Beck to reclaim Martin Luther King’s dream. Sharpton basically concluded that Glenn Beck should have a different dream.

As the Sharpton segment finished, I heard someone reference a segment recapping the weekend’s football action after the break. Surely the reference was about the ol’ gridiron variety, so I paid no attention. Continue reading

The Federation Needs To Get This Bob Bradley Thing Right

USA crest

From Soccernet:

U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati and Bob Bradley met in Los Angeles on Thursday, but no decision was made regarding Bradley’s future as head coach of the U.S. national team, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

The source also indicated that the meeting was never intended to produce a decision regarding Bradley’s status, and instead was meant to be a debrief of the U.S. team’s performance at the World Cup, the second such meeting the two have had since the Americans were eliminated by Ghana in the second round.

No timetable has been set for when Bradley’s situation will be resolved.

Perpetual limbo.

Seemingly no one knows anything about the negotiations that are not taking place about the U.S. manager position.

We do know, however, that Bob Bradley is interested in opportunities in Europe. The only reason to reveal this tidbit is because Bradley is, well, interested in opportunities in Europe.

But from the Federation’s perspective, if they don’t think that Bradley is the best man for the position by now, they will never know. It’s almost three months since the U.S. was knocked out of the World Cup. That’s enough time to digest what happened. In fact, it’s enough time to draw out a cartoon, frame-by-frame, of Team USA’s adventure in South Africa.

So what are these people talking about?

My masters degree in people watching tells me that Bob Bradley is done. He’s publicly looking for a job without burning bridges. Someone who is primarily interested in staying at a job doesn’t look publicly. Fair enough. But Sunil Gulati and the Federation are seemingly Bradley’s bunkmates in limbo. While it’s fair to assume that one can’t announce any developments where none exist, as the days turn to months, you have to begin wondering about U.S. soccer’s ability to properly plan for the future. As we start getting closer to the next international date with no movement, the smell of confusion starts to burn the nostrils.

Let’s go back to Bradley’s introduction. Bradley was initially appointed interim manager as the U.S. Soccer Federation tried to secure Jurgen Klinsmann. When the Klinsmann thing didn’t work out, Bradley was offered and accepted the job full-time. And the statements of confidence and support followed, as they should have.

But what happened raises a fundamental question: How do you go from Klinsmann to Bradley? Without questioning either manager’s pedigree, the two men are philosophically night and day.

If you think that Klinsmann and Bradley are the same type of manager interested in developing similar playing styles, perhaps there is no issue. But if you think that these managers would go in two different directions, we have an issue, not with the managers, but with the body doing the hiring.

Coaches have skill sets, and teams have needs and areas that require attention. A coach’s strengths should match a team’s needs. Simple as. But someone needs to define the needs, the direction, and the destination. If Klinsmann and Bradley are on the table at the same time, there needs to either be a rationale as to how each of these men fills a need and provides the direction to a destination, or there was no direction or destination in the first place. In fact, it makes one wonder whether the need was defined beyond narrowly needing a manager who knows the system. Our needs are an open book and they aren’t always tied to poor technique. We need to get better getting forward. We need to become more proficient building our attack through midfield. We need to improve our finishing. We need to work on possessing the ball and controlling the tempo of the game. Simply put, there are people better equipped than others to address these needs.

Bradley was a reactionary hire. That isn’t to say that his results were horrible. Quite the contrary. Bradley took the opportunity and led a successful cycle, especially if results are the measure of success. But his hiring on the back of courting Klinsmann showed little vision. It’s like saying, “Well if not Barack Obama, I’ll take John McCain.” It shows an inability to understand that the leader you choose shows what you’ve highlighted as your biggest needs, and further dictates the direction you think is required to get to the next level.

Hopefully, the Federation gets the process right this time. I’m assuming that Bradley is not the first pick. We don’t know the other names that the Federation may be considering to be his successor. But even if the Federation doesn’t have a clue, they should know the direction that’s needed. We’ve been watching this group now for four years. If there are not clear ideas regarding where we need to go, something is desperately wrong.

If Bob Bradley, after almost three months of stagnation, ends up manager, he’ll deserve our unconditional support. But that shouldn’t mean that the Federation should get off without a hiding if it still can’t or won’t articulate the team’s needs, direction and destination, and how Bradley has the skills to do the specific job defined.

Bob Bradley deserves better. So do we. To ask for a little vision isn’t asking a lot.

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ESPN Soccernet: A Champion for Women’s Soccer, and by Soccer, I Mean Catfights

Elizabeth Lambert

ESPN Soccernet’s Headlines at 5 pm on Tuesday, August 24:

  • France’s Evra to appeal five game suspension
  • First N. Korean on German team scores in debut
  • Brazil president warns of 2014 Cup prep issues
  • Johnson: U.S. players fighting for respect in EPL
  • U.S. coach Bradley interested in Aston Villa job
  • Allsopp’s goals end United’s 5-game losing skid
  • Chelsea, Arsenal enjoy 6-0 romps in EPL
  • Phenom Neymar snubs Chelsea to stay in Brazil
  • Internacional tops Chivas, claims 2nd Copa title

… and of course the headliner: Hair-pulling New Mexico soccer player back (with video). One of these stories is out of place, and no, it’s not the North Korean on a German team. Continue reading


American Soccer Music 2.0: From All Fours to Upright


Yes, I get it. You’re American. Me too.

That’s where we started. Armed with knowledge of our country of residence and an ability to abbreviate, we launched the USA chant on unsuspecting eardrums. Unsure of what else to say, other than perhaps, “Ref, you suck,” or other expletive-ridden versions like, “Ref you [insert expletive] suck,” we pushed the USA chant to its limits, alternating between stiff chants and Jersey Shore-esque fist pumping while repeating the same three letters over and over again. And I’m glad we did it, lest we be confused with our neighbors to the north. You know, the ones with the socialized medicine. Continue reading


There Goes the Neighborhood

The past few years have seen an influx of investors from the Far East, India, and the Middle East looking to break into the English game. Worries about diluting the purity of the English game have become the issue du jour.

These sentiments are not restricted to England. Italy has struggled with the introduction of “others” into Italian society. France’s inverse love affair with African and Arab populations is well documented. This same narrative can be found in immigration debates in the United States where conservatives continuously harp on about our immigrant nation losing itself through, well, immigration. Continue reading

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