ESPN WANTS TO REMIND US… 2014 will be magical.

Also please note, it is already a WORLD CUP year in many parts of the world

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MY “GOLDEN” TWEET – PIRLO and MLS

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I tweeted this during a Juve UEFA Champions’ League match last November..  Lord the drama it caused after Phil Schoen RTed it.  It was my most discussed tweet of 2013.

Here is the thing, I STAND BY IT.  Pirlo is a genius on a level no one else can match and fewer understand. He would be wasted in the MLS, too few players could play with him and far fewer fans have any real understanding of his brilliance.

I use as evidence the many, many enraged comments it caused.  Between the outrage and the need for many guys to, “explain,” his genius to me, they all just re-enforced my opinion.   All were inaccurate or moreover, incomplete in their sophistication.

Yes, I know his passes are pinpoint perfect, his free kick are works of art and he never gives the ball away.  Everyone know that about him.  None of that is what defines his brilliance; they are just symptoms of it.

For me, Pirlo’s brilliance breaks down to two things:

  • His ability to read very facet of the pitch at once and react to not only current situation but to calculate and react to every possibility as well simultaneously
  • His character on and off the pitch.  He NEVER causes drama.   Not on the pitch.  Not off it.

My favorite Pirlo moment was Summer 2009.  AC Milan were playing a friendly against LA Galaxy. He and Ronaldino played the full 90 minutes.  After the match it was re-gen and condition training.  There were fans scattered all around the stadium. He and Ronaldino walked the entire perimeter of the then Home Depot Center, signing autographs and posing for pictures with every fan who wanted one.

It was not required or for that matter encouraged by his team or LAG, but the two of them did it any way. There were no video records or professional cameras to build-up their brand status.  It was two men who felt these people deserved their attention.   They were gracious, charming; in short, it was a Master Class in Being a Superstar.  It was also ironically the same match that Beckham got into a fight with his own fans: the ying-and-yang of stardom.

Pirlo is perfect to me: as a player and as a professional.  He is perfectly placed in Italy. MLS in 50 years will hopefully be developed to a point where it is ready for a player as unique as Pirlo is. Until that time, it is not a place for him or his glorious man beard.

Dear Sexist Boys of Soccer

Women who talk about football tactics, it’s beautiful. I find that fantastic. And you know what a 4-3-3 is, right?” – Laurent Blanc does his bit for gender equality in response to a question from a female Swedish journalist

“I don’t talk football with women. That’s how I see things. They can go back to their saucepans” – Bernard Lacombe, Aulas’s right-hand man at Lyon, takes exception to a female caller who criticises Karim Benzema during a radio phone-in

The attention that women’s football gets in Sweden is unequalled in the world…It is a surprising thing. They do their work marvelously well and they will continue to do it, but you cannot compare the individual performance of a woman with a man.

“In Europe. they compare me with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. When I come back to Sweden, they compare me with a female player.             

With all due respect to women, they should be paid in proportion to what they generate (financially).”

“Give them [Swedish National Women’s Team] a bicycle with my autograph and that will be enough“. — Zalatan on the women in football.

Dear Sexist Boys of Soccer,

Females should be kept out of the clubhouse that is the beautiful game…    WE . GET . IT .

Your penises are so intrinsically connected to your brains’ functioning that you cannot imagine our uteruses could operate independent of our cerebral processing.

Now truth be told, our uteruses do, in fact, render our understanding of the differences between a standard 4-4-2,  a 4-3-3, and a 4-3-2-1 formation impossible.    And those damn two X chromosomes block any ability our feeble little minds might have to grasp things as simple as the offside rule or handball v. ball-to-hand.

Something as complex as soccer is WAY TOO ADVANCED for us to comprehend.  Only shopping, looking pretty, cooking, cleaning, and providing our men with every whim served with a extra-large helping of ego-stroking, idol-worship.  That is what we are here for looking pretty, sexing up all your fantasies while serving you dinner in our most virginally slutty dress.

Sexism is so pervasive in soccer that moments where someone stands-up against it come as a shock to my system.    What is remarkable about what Zlatan said is that anyone was surprised.   First of all, the line about the attention women’s football getting is Sweden is the unequalled in the world is Zalatan-level BS.  Let’s be real here, Team USA got that title by massive margin.

Even the reaction to Ibra’s comments highlighted the embedded nature of sexism in this sport.  The outrage was directed towards his, admittedly, idiotic comments.  There is no outrage directed at the Swedish FA for its much more insidious sexism.  After all, it was not Zlatan who gave a Volvo to their new, “cap leader,” while completely ignoring their ACTUAL cap leading player because she is well, a she.

Now, many American guys I have read are outraged about his statements, but I have not read any outraged about the FA’s actions.  It is much like the lack of outrage directed at US Soccer when it the Federation completely ignored the USWNT during the 100th Anv celebration weekend last June.  The ladies were annexed to Canada, while the entirety of US Soccer glitterati was lavishly celebrating in DC watching the boys played Germany.

This is the USWNT — World Cup winning, Olympic gold medal winning, Ballon d’Or winning, tons of other trophy winning — program, and it was EXCILED to Canada without a second thought.  The program that gave the world Mia, Julie, Abby, Hope, Michelle, Alex, Heather, Kristine, et al and gave US Soccer a lot of trophies was virtually unrepresented in celebrating US Soccer’s 100th birthday.

I get how sexism is bred within the game, especially outside America.  Boys who show talent from an early age are whisked away from their families and communities to be trained with other boys by men.  There is not a lot of interaction with girls or women as part of the game growing up.  Combine that with the acceptable levels of sexism in society at large, and you get where we are now.  Girls are too alien to the game they know, to believe girls could understand and be part of it.

All is not as hopeless as it seems.   There are some women starting to be part of the men’s game; Sia Massey  and Barbara Berlusconi are shaking up the game with so far mixed results, but starts are always bumpy.

What is funny to me, though, is that soccer seems is most equal of all team sports.  Unlike, say, golf, there is no difference in the playing field.  No pitch equivalent of the ladies T; no softball to baseball differential in ball size; and no differences in the clock like basketball.   It is the SAME game played on the same field with the same ball, by the same rules for the same amount of time.  Soccer is soccer, regardless of gender.

The only difference is the number of fans in the stands and money being made, or not made in the women’s game.   As women, we cannot hope to eliminate sexism in the game until we support and promote the women’s game as much and as often as we do the men’s game.  Supporting women’ club game as well as the women’s international game, grows the game and makes women in the game more acceptable and more normal and that can flow over into the men’s game.  Oddly, I agree with Zlatan on that point

The biggest hope to eradicate sexism in the game are female fans.  Fans not  watching the game to be a pretty accessory for our men but watching the games because WE LOVE IT.   We are the new power in the game.  We travel to matches around the world and we talk, text, tweet and even blog about it.  We support the game, our teams and other women in the game.

Women’s biggest advantage in the game is that we are the last great untapped market.  There is no new money to be made from male fans, but women though.. we are potentially a lot of new money in a lot of new bank accounts.

Money counts, actually it might be the one true equalizer in this game.

Quotes 1 and  2 from From the Guardian

Zalatan quotes: Mirror.co.uk From the Daily Mirror

The GAME OF THEIR LIVES

World Cup 2014 is exactly 170 days away. Yeah, just 22 weeks until Kick-off.

The obvious questions remain and intensify:

  • Will Brazil Do a Confed Cup redux with protests at stadiums and in the streets?
  • Will the stadiums/hotels/transportation infrastructure/communications infrastructure/etc be ready?
  • Do the anticipated temps pose dangerous risks for players and fans in the sun-soaked stands?
  • Will fans be safe from crime?
  • Would FIFA really move it? If so, where?

No idea the answer to any of those but I know mostly the same questions were asked prior to SA2010 and it was almost all good in the end.

Now, 170 days is not a lot of time.  Moving would have to be done within the next few weeks, and that seems highly unlikely.   I would not hate because USA would be top of the move to list. We require almost no advanced notice to stage massive events.

When SARS hit China in early 2003, FIFA pulled the Women’s World Cup and handed it to the USA.  It was only with a couple of months notice and it went off without a hitch.

Now again, I think that it is highly unlikely FIFA moves it.  So we prepare for the first Brazilian World Cup in 64 years.

First up – MANDATORY READING

The Game of Their Lives by Geoffrey Douglas.  The story US Soccer’s great triumph, with first person accounts and meticulous research.  June 29, 1950, in a mining town North of Rio, the locally called, “Reyes of Futbol,” (Kings of Soccer, aka England) faced a ragtag group of American kids in the first round.

Spoiler Alert: Much like the two previous wars, let’s just say.. ‘Merica!

Douglas beautifully tells the story of how this diverse group of men and boys became arguably the greatest United States Men’s National Team ever.  In extensive detail, he described the match, explores Brazil’s love affair with the game and the World’s adoration of that relationship, then most importantly,  introduces our generation to these forgotten legends of the US game.

The book is an fantastic, READ IT! It is 146 pages (including several pages of photos) and moves at the pace of a great match.  The Game of Their Lives at Amazon.com

The movie is not has wonderful but it is great…  Here is the trailer and NOTE IT IS CALLED, “MIRACLE MATCH”   

Moral of the Story for the Modern Age:  in remote parts of Brazil where no one wants to play, US players against the, “Unbeatable,” team.. Magic happens

To Renew or Not to Renew

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For the last seven years, I have been a LA Galaxy season ticketholder.   Not because I support them, but because I live in Los Angeles and I support MLS. I am DC United through and through, but even with living in LA, supporting soccer in America is important to me.

I have not renewed for the 2014 season yet and not sure that I will at all. I am not at all happy with the team or the league.

There are many reasons that I am not inclined to support the league or the team at this point. Some of which make me sound like a raving conspiracy theorist, loon and some are simply mundane.

Don Garber and his smug, flippant condensation of his customers screams the Devil’s whore to me.   His twitter handle is, “the soccer don,” like he is a mafia kingpin.   He comes across as corrupt as one, and God knows he runs his league like he is looking for a RICO indictment.

He is the face and the spirit of the league. It is impossible to separate the two in my mind. After is utterly disrespectful, dismissal of a fellow fan asking about transparency at his State of the League address, my hatefire was restoked.

With the continual invention of new rules, violation of old rules, Adidas ass-kissing, and fleecing fans with remorseless abandon, MLS seems to believe they are running a fiefdom where no ramifications or repercussions exist. I have no desire to support their behavior with my hard-earned income.

The MLS (yes I use, “the,” as a modifier for acronyms) has ALWAYS been shady. I think we all accepted it was a necessary evil to develop the league, but the league is 18 years old now. It is time to end the shady mischief and be honest.

To my way of thinking, 2013 might be the most openly corrupt season MLS has ever had. One just has to look at the show that was #DempseyWatch. The staggering amount of sketch involved in that deal would make Vito Corleone, himself, wince in shame.

Supposedly the League’s overarching ambition is to be one of the biggest leagues in the world. Their behavior says otherwise. The level of collusion in the league and among the teams makes a mockery of that statement.

The League owning all players was important and necessary in its infancy, but to grow the League needs to stop. Teams need to be able to compete honestly to get the players they want.

Using #DempseyWatch again, Grant Walh of Sports Illustrated was embedded (or as close as possible) with the Sounders as it was all going down. He reported at the time, “Los Angeles and Toronto were also interested in ponying up for Dempsey, multiple sources said, but Toronto (which is working on its own Designated Player deals) accepted that it was better for the league if Dempsey were playing in a U.S. city.”

Words fail on how absurd that is.. What the hell team says, “it’s better that our competitors get the best player. Oh and we’re going to chip in for our competitors to get him.” Then simply steps aside?

How is that not an absolute betrayal of the fans, especially season ticket holders and team sponsors?

So TFO graciously allows Dempsey to go to another team, and now the League owes them a favor. Vito would be pleased.

To be a real league, teams cannot be worried about what’s best for the league. What’s best for the League is healthy competition, active investment and support if teams for their team, not solely to protect MLS interests.

As things stand now, teams screw over their own fans then get the turn to screw other teams’ fans get screwed. It is a vicious and useless cycle.

Add to that the MLS’s sugar-daddy, Adiddas, which has a complete monopoly on players and merchandise. They dictate which players they want promoted and have zero incentive to listen to fans.

18 years is too long to be the sole provider. Teams should be able to negotiate their own deals with manufactures like every other league.

The ownership of all players and the Adiddas monopoly are emblematic of the real failure of the MLS’S strategy.

Competition is key in sports and it is what is missing in MLS.

Instead of a dynamic league that wants to reach elite status, we have a League that protects itself first and cares about its customers somewhere way down the line.

I believe in American soccer and the MLS conceptually but as it stands now, it is a bitter pill to take. Add to that my extensive issues with the management of the Galaxy as a team and a club, and I very well may be a former MLS season ticket holder come March 2014.