World Cup in Mexico: Fútbol, ¡No!

I’ve (Charlie) listened to soccer enthusiasts for more than 30 years tell me why the sport was about to take off in the U.S. The reasons have varied over the years and here are some of them:

 • The presence of Brazilian soccer great Pelé, who played for the (now-defunct) New York Cosmos in 1975-1977, would attract interest to the game.

 • The participation of so many American youth in suburban soccer leagues during the 1970´s and 1980´s would cause the sport to take off when they became adults.

• The playing of the World Cup in the U.S. in 1994 would give the sport greater exposure and popularity.

• The creation of the (now-defunct) Women´s United Soccer Association in 2001 would spur interest in the game.

• The growth of immigrants to the U.S. from countries where the sport is popular would raise the profile of the sport.

• The signing of British soccer great David Beckham to play for the L.A. Galaxy in 2007 would give the game star appeal.

Despite it all, the popularity of soccer in the U.S. lags behind American football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, NASCAR, and Texas hold´em poker. And now that I’ve lived through the excitement of the World Cup in Mexico — where the sport is wildly popular and I’ve watched more games in the past month than in all the previous years of my entire life – I can tell you why it has failed to catch on in the U.S. But before I do, I´ve got to say that I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie of sitting with my Mexican and American colleagues and watching the World Cup games. It was fun to share their excitement as the Mexican or U.S. offense took the ball towards the goal. However, speaking from a strictly unbiased, culturally-neutral perspective, this is a case where the U.S. has it right and the rest of the planet is, well, on another planet. So here are 10 things wrong with soccer:

(10) Goal keepers wear a different color jersey than the rest of their team mates, supposedly to help the referee make sure other players don´t touch the ball, but leading to the great confusion of spectators and TV viewers.

(9) While baseball umps make mistakes, they exhibit the wisdom of Solomon himself compared to soccer referees. The latter make so many errors that most soccer fans remember numerous important games tainted by bad calls.

(8) Players are always falling down, or ¨flopping¨ as the Brits says, for real or pretended reasons.

(7) When a real foul does occur, the guilty player, regardless of how flagrant the violation, feigns astonishment that he has been accused of such unsportsmanlike conduct.

(6) When a player commits some sort of infraction, the referee waves a little yellow or red playing card to certify his decision.

(5) The referee adds several minutes, the calculation of which is apparent only to him, to each half to compensate for lost playing time.

(4) Head shots are wildly inaccurate.

(3) Most shots on goal are either way too high or far off to the side of the goal post.

(2) Ninety minutes of regulation play or 120 minutes of regulation plus overtime play often end in a tie or, even worse, a scoreless tie.

(1) When even the most important games end in a tie after overtime periods, the winner gets decided by the use of penalty kicks. Does anyone really think the winner of this skirmish is really the better team?

So there you have it, and I didn´t even include the use of unnecessary British sporting expressions for which perfectly good American English words exist, such as pitch for field, fixture for schedule, and match for game. But at least now we can all relax for another four years until we are once again subjected to the spectacle of another World Cup.


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One Response to “World Cup in Mexico: Fútbol, ¡No!”

  1. Alan Says:

    Nicely said . . . now I’ll read the “Si” column.

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