Thursday, July 1, 2010

Aren’t you glad you live in America?

With Independence Day just around the corner I figured it would be a good time to highlight the fact that we live in the greatest country in the world… at least when it comes to post-world cup support for our Men’s National Team.

Just as a friendly reminder, the USMNT was eliminated from the Round of 16 by Ghana last Saturday in a 2-1 overtime loss. Respectable, maybe coming up a little short of expectations, but still a good showing for the yanks. So the team boards their charter flight back to D.C., some players return to their MLS squads, others spend some time with family, life goes on for the team. Landon Donovan spends the first few days back stateside being parade through the talk show circuit as if the USA had won the world cup. Kicking the jabulani around with Letterman, yawning with Regis and Kelly, and laughing it up with Jon Stewart. He was put up in posh hotels, including the Trump Soho according to his Twitter feed, and dressed in the finest threads by the producers of the talk shows. Donovan has noted how supportive people he has run into in NYC this week, congratulating him and the team for a great showing in the world cup and wishing him best of luck for the future. All the positives are published stateside for Donovan, even when he is battling the tabloids in England with a potential baby’s mama and trade talks in the EPL. Because soccer is not the marquee sport of America, our players can walk the streets and hold their heads high regardless of the outcome. But that’s the United States, what’s it like for other teams and players eliminated from the world cup?

Perhaps my favorite story so far is the case of the Nigerian soccer team. The president of Nigeria, after the teams 0-2-1 record and group stage knockout, has banned the team from competing internationally for the next two years as punishment for a poor performance. The soccer federation is under investigation by the government to see if any illegal actions were taken by the players or coaches to sabotage their world cup matches. FIFA has stepped in and said that if the government gets involved that they will ban the federation from competition as FIFA has a strict policy prohibiting outside influence on soccer federations. Wouldn’t it make sense to keep the team going, give them more time to train and play friendly’s in preparation for 2014 world cup qualifying? Now with the team suspended until 2012, and qualifying starting in 2012, there is a good chance the team might not make it out of qualifying. Nigeria is a third world country, nothing like that would happen in the industrialized nations of the world right?

Last time I checked France was taking part in the G-20 meetings in Canada, so I would consider them to be a powerhouse nation. However, Yahoo Sports is reporting that the French government is investigating the soccer federation to see if the players intentionally threw matches during the world cup to show their distaste for the coach and federation as a whole. The coach was already fired, probably on the flight back from South Africa, which didn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Even though the French were bounced in the group stage almost two weeks ago, this is still the lead story in all of the French newspapers.

And then there's the story of the Italians returning home from the world cup after their group stage exit. Once the team deplaned at Malpensa Airport in Milan and got on the team bus to head back to the training facility, the bus was pelted by rotten tomatoes from hundreds of angry fans. Okay, the fans have a right to be angry, but wait a second those weren't just any fans. the tomato hurling was organized by Antonia Cassano, Fabrizio Miccoli, and Mario Balotelli, 3 player left off the work cup squad for Italy. U-N-I-T-Y! When life gives you tomatoes, make ketchup.

The stories continue with tabloids slandering the players and coaches of the England team as well as Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo claiming he is suffering from a mental breakdown following his team’s loss in the Round of 16. But life goes on in America, because although the nation was on the USMNT bandwagon for two weeks and fell off hard, we still can support the team who is representing our country. Happy Forth of July everybody!


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