Soccer, Sexism, USSF’S Huge [Hope] Solo Mess and A LOT of WTF

I have read and read and re-read pretty much everything written about this Hope Solo mess.  I have also read a lot written about domestic violence in the NFL and in sports in general.

Generally all the talking has proven to me is that very, very few people either involved in the decision-making or writing about it have any clue what the fuck they are talking about.  There is precious little discussion about the cycles of abuse, the toll it takes on families or why it exists in the first place.

To be clear, I have never been in a physically abusive relationship and got out of a couple emotionally abusive relationships pretty much unscathed or with minimal damage.   I have had a few close calls with some class-A DBags and suffered some sexual harassment and a sexual assault by a then boyfriend that left serious emotional scars, but thankfully not physical ones.  I have never been hit buy a guy that I was seeing or any other one for that matter.  I have never been in a physically abusive relationship by the grace of God and A LOT of luck and friends stepping in the line of fire so to speak.    Luckily, in my case relationships that could very easily end up there, I got out before it did.

Now back to the topic at hand… the never ending mess that is Hope Solo’s non-professional life.  I keep hearing this combination: Hope, Ray Rice, the question of why is SHE still playing, the false equivalency of male and female domestic violence and the idea that she is somehow different by virtue of gender    There are only a few people who know what happened in Hope Solo’s family’s kitchen and ultimately that is a matter for a judge/jury and or her legal team to sort through and determine.  There was no smoking gun videotape to crystallize the world’s opinion.

There are charges to be adjusted, include getting into a violent altercation with him 17 year-old nephew including breaking a broom over his head and then punching her sister, the boy’s mother, in the face when the sister tried to break it.  If those charges are true, she should be sent to jail as befitting punishment for those crimes.   I don’t care that she is a Hope Solo, America’s Best Goalkeeper or whatever.. if she is a violent thug, she is a violent thug.  Simple… simple… simple…

There is the trick and real issue, nothing, not one damn thing, in domestic violence is simple or black and white.

She is being portrayed in some segments as the same as Ray Rice and given the charges you can very easily make that case.  She is accused of the same crime as he was, punching a female loved one in the face, but she also has additional charges of violence against a minor. Is she then worse than Rice?  Is she been given a pass because we sexistly, as a society, do not consider women to be equally capable of violence and therefore not held to the same standard when they commit acts of violence?

Few, if any people, are talking about the ultimate irony  of Hope’s life…  that less than two years ago… Hope was the Janay Rice.  Hope was engaged to former NFL player Jerramy Stevens when he was accused and arrested for physical assaulting her at a party.   She married him hours later and charges were dropped due to lack of evidence and her refusal to testify.  When I say She was the Janay Rice, I mean down to the emergency marriage to protect her man.  Now does her being a, “victim,” of domestic abuse make her more sympathetic than Ray Rice?

Before I get too involved in this… let me state this emphatically, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT OK.. IN ANY FORM, be it verbal, mental, emotional, physical, sexual or any combination there of..  it is also not cookie-cutter, or cookie-cutter easy to solve.  If you are wondering, no I have no answers to solve the problem.  I just think that different questions should be asked.

Hope has always been, “troubled,” and, “trouble,” depending on your perspective.  She has always been US Soccer’s bad girl: fighting with teammates, defaming the ’91ers, ignoring coaches, and then there is the family drama on the side.  She has been the victim and now the accused perpetrator of intimate violence.  It is typical of Hope’s image .,.. conflicted mess of good and bad, light and dark, right and wrong.

There are real questions that should be asked about Hope and her Captaining of the US Women’s National Team while these criminal charges hang over her.  It is fair to know that until convicted, she is innocent.  I firmly believe that for all persons. It is the cornerstone of our democracy.  She is entitled to that right as well.

What becomes the issue is how do we are the American soccer community deal with this mess most appropriately?  Hope missed national team friendly to attend the party where all this went down.  It potentially was the match that would have broken Briana Scurry’s shut-out record.  She did it later while both captaining the national team and still under indictment.

Today the WWC Qualifying Rooster was announced with Hope as presumptive Starting GK.

 

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After all Uncle Sunil said in a statement recently, “From the beginning, we considered the information available and have taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach regarding Hope Solo’s status with the National Team…Based on that information, U.S. Soccer stands by our decision to allow her to participate with the team as the legal process unfolds. If new information becomes available we will carefully consider it.”
Uncle Sunil is flat out wrong, so is USSF.  

If it were Tim Howard and not Hope Solo, we would not be having this discussion. He would be banned… and NO, I am NOT accusing Tim of any sort of thing. It was just a like for like analogy.

Look I believe in innocent until proven guilty in a Court of law after a fair trial, with every fiber of my being.  I do.  This is not a Court of law… this is the Court of public opinion, the Supreme Court of public perception.  This is teaching young children, both girls and boys that violence committed by women is not as serious or as dangerous as that committed by men.  It is.  It is that simple.  This is the core group of USWNT fans, young, impressionable kids.

What is this teaching boys who are the victims of domestic violence? By the way the estimate is 1 in 14 guys at some point in his life will be the victim of domestic violence, YES VICTIM. That number rises dramatically for homosexual boys and men to 40%. [Per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence]

What is it teaching girls who commit those acts?  What about girls who are lesbian and subjected to domestic abuse in their relationships?  
Is is not as serious, as dangerous, as important because the abuser was another female?

The players of the USWNT have been shamefully quite on this subject… shamefully quite.  I give them only the benefit of the doubt in that, I assume they were strongly encouraged/ordered to keep their mouths shut.

Until today when back-up goalkeeper Jillian Loyden retired from international soccer, not one team member spoke out.  Loyden retired and then in the proverbial same breath, called out USSF and its basically unconscionable decision to ignore the Solo situation.   She has a very special reason to be so insistent that USSF gets it collective shit together.  She more than most know that what domestic violence can do… Jillian buried her sister Britton who was (allegedly) murdered by Britton’s fiancé who is still awaiting his murder trial (yes I believe he is innocent as he has not been found guilty).  Jillian wrote an impassioned op-ed piece calling for Hope to be banned..  She is correct, Hope should be banned.  [READ IT NOW]  For more info, you can go to Jillian’s Foundation’s website.

I do not pretend to know all the ins and outs of domestic violence, or how it affects people individually.  I know that Hope has been involved publicly as both a victim and a perpetrator. I do not know if she is guilty; that is for a Court, a judge and jury to determine… this is about representing the United States of America in international soccer, the historical beacon of the Women’s game.  Hope is not the player to do that at this point.

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Taylor Twellman is Right and Wrong on Concussions (LONG READ)

Trust me, I get where Taylor Twellman is coming from, I totally do… Hell, I have the CT-scans to prove it, but…

First a little history about me… according to the emergency room staff of the Washington Hospital Center, I almost died from a two concussions sustained in a 24 hour period during college.  One night I was hanging out in some friends’ dorm suite lounging against the wall, using one of their pillows, talking.  One of my friend’s wanted her pillow back so she pulled it straight up behind me…  The electrical outlets were not flush with the wall.  When the pillow was removed quickly without me being prepared the base of my skull slammed into the jetted outlet box.  My eyes dilated and I never lost consciousness so it was not really thought of as a big deal.

The next evening, I was back in their room where a bunch of us were watching a movie.  The girl who pulled the pillow was laying on her bed, I was laying on the floor on a red folding chair beds things next to her bed.  She dropped to remote between the wall and her bed which was a traditional steel-framed dorm provided one on rollers.   She pushed her bed away from the wall to retrieve the remote, the side of my head was exactly level with the steel frame.

From what I have been told, the metal frame slammed into the side of my head with force.  I do not remember it or the concussion tests or claiming that I did not want to go to the hospital but, “take me to McDonald. I just want McDonalds.”  I have no memory of it but have reconstructed parts of it from those that were there that night.  Apparently my eyes did not dilate, no idea if I answered the standard concussion questions correctly or if they were even asked.  Cannot tell you how I got to the hospital or got checked in at the ER.

The only thing I vaguely remember is walking up to what I still think is a pedestaled circular nurses’ station in the middle of the ER.  Now, I should note that I have been in that ER a lot and that nurses’ station has never existed there but it is what my mind continues to believe happened. I basically lost all track of time that night.  I have no concept to this day about how long it took to get to the ER, how long I was in the ER or how long I was there when I walked up to the nurses’ station.  I do not even have the slightest idea if anyone was there with me or not.

My memories are very hazy of the conversation with the nurse but I remember asking if she had something I could use to vomit in because I was horribly nauseated (I do not remember feeling anything even nauseated).  I remember saying that I understood it would be a while before I was seen so a bucket would be fine. It was public hospital in DC and they regularly treated gunshot wounds, knifings, and other level 1 trauma so waiting was expected.  Not sure that I was really cognitively able to understand that though and then the nurse asking why I was there..

No idea what I said but my next memory is very fleeting of me flying down the hallway on a gurney.  No idea how I got on the gurney or how long it was from talking to the nurse to being on the gurney.   I do not remember the gurney stopping or route it took or where we ended up.  Next I remember laying on a table (could have been the gurney, no idea) and something about CT-Scans.  I know in retrospect that I had CT-Scans of my head.  Yet, with a barrel of a shotgun to me chest, I would never be able to say definitively I underwent one.

Later I found out the CT-Scan showed two concussions in the two parts of my brain that I hit in those 24 or so hours.  I also found out that being nauseated with a concussion is VERY bad and is often a prelude to imminent death.  Good times… and that is why this is such a huge and under-respected injury.

It seems that I was there for hours and had several concussion exams… few tests have I ever failed miserably as the Glasgow Coma that night.  For the record, I also have no memory of the laying on the gurney, if I did,  for the next several hours or a drop of treatment I received that night.  I do not remember being cleared to go home or going back to my dorm.   I do not know if people watched me overnight (they did).  In short, I remember literally almost nothing about the experience and those memories I do have my not be accurate at all.

Hours of my life which were very dramatic are a complete blank to me.  It is a very odd sensation.  For a period of time after, I had headaches and other symptoms.  I understand what concussions can do to a person.. they can kill or at least really mess with your health and sense of reality.

My point in telling this is so you understand that I respect the work Taylor is doing to bring traumatic brain injury prevention in soccer to the forefront. It is very important work and he understands the costs concussions can have on a life more than most.   I simply disagree about his desired proposals.

That is simply an absurdly wrong approach.  It is a elitist, Bugatti Veyron yet simplistic and highly insufficient solution to a problem that is much more universally Ford Focus in breadth.

It is not that I think head injuries are not serious; of course, I do.  It is that I think this suggestion is absurd in practice.

I get why on the surface he thinks it would be a perfect solution.   He lives/played in a world of elite soccer but this problem spreads across all levels of the soccer pitch.  For example, under this plan where FIFA changes the law and there now must be an independent doctor on the sideline at every match, a few questions initially popped into my head:

    • Who picks the doctor?
    • Using what criteria?
    • Who pays for that doctor’s time?
    • Does the doctor have to be specialists in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?  Board Certified?
    • What happens if independent doctor’s opinion differs from the team doctor’s opinion?
    • What happens if the doctor is late or called-up on an emergency, does the match just stop?
    • Would they have to be certified as TBI experts by FIFA? Controlling Confederation? The National Association?

These are a few of the basic questions for a proposed solution only covering the elite profession level at best potentially.  This approach is myopic at best.

Yes, I understand that part of this is him trying in vain to save his own career but in spearheading this issue, he needs to be a better leader for ALL those suffering.  That means thinking beyond what would have just saved his career.  He has to think and advocate for what will save other’s careers and lives.

I understand that I am basing this entire debate on a single tweet from Taylor (and hearing many of his televised comments on it).  I assumed there would be a more detailed explanation and/or much more formulated proposals on the website of his highly touted charity Think Taylor.

After searching the website top-to-bottom, I found very little information increasing concussion awareness,  what to do in the event a player sustains what may be a concussion, nothing on his proposals for change including any mention of an independent physician on the sidelines every game, but a lot of opportunities to donate though no information on how the collected funds are spent.   The same is true for its social media pages.  This tweet (and his others) and his televised discussions are all he’s provided.

The reality is concussions are a massive problem at all levels of soccer, especially at least in the US, for girls and women.  The Washington Post had an article last April, entitled, “Reducing the number of concussions in high school girls’ soccer is a daunting task  The lead girl profiled suffered 5 CONFIRMED concussion by the time she graduated high school.  YES FIVE.

This is where the main problem I have with Taylor’s approach is two-fold:

A) Schools, school districts, school conferences, AYSO, et al will never be able to get, let alone pay for an independent physicians trained in diagnosing TBI on the fly to be at every match conducted.  It is simply logically and logistically impossible. You have made it impossible for any group/school/team of players to play any organized matches.  Could it happen at a professional/elite level? maybe.. but even then finding physicians available and willing to work matches is a logistical nightmare.

B)  Secondly it removes responsibility from the coaches and the team’s leadership to take appropriate care of their players.  While watching the Final yesterday,  Chairman and Investor-Operator of the Columbus Crew Anthony Precourt tweeted this at the Kramer concussion incident.

I replied to his tweet with this simple question

Berhalter is of course his head coach, Greg Berhalter and I am still waiting for an answer.  If he, as the team’s owner/chairman of a professional team, does not demand automatic substitution for potential concussion standard of care then he has no place entering the discussion.  If he feels that it was wrong for Low and Kramer, how can it be correct for his own players?   I am very curious as what his position is on the topic when it is his own team’s championship on the line.

During the World Cup, FIFA came under tremendously harsh criticism for multiple players continuing to play in matches after being knocked out.  I honestly think that outrage is horribly misdirected.  Yes, absolutely, FIFA has a major role to solving the issue.  I disagree though that change must come down via edict from them.

The option to have an independent physician is clearly not sustainable from an organizational and financial standpoint for the vast majority of matches played.  This is a problem universe to soccer (and most other sports) at ALL ages, not just the super elite level.   More than that, it is highly insufficient to provide protections to players.

If this plan, or the similar plan requiring mandatory substitutions of players in match, becomes law how quickly does opposing players stop kicking shins or trying to stomp legs to get an advantage and start bashing heads?  This mandatory order simply puts a Vegas worthy neon bullseye on players’ heads.  If you want the opposing team’s best player out of the game, bash his head… It is a much more dangerous way then simply sweeping the leg a la The Karate Kid.  This is one of the unintentional negative consequence of these good-hearted proposals.

Secondarily, removing a team’s leadership and medical professionals in the decision-making, never solves the problem.  The revolution needs to happen in within the club structure first and foremost.   This is is the systemic change needed.

Having an independent physician 0n the sidelines for matches would only offer a player 90 minutes of protection maximum, which is a very small portion of the time players are at risk for head injuries.  Every practice offers many, many chances for a player to sustain a concussion.  What is is it roughly 6 to 1 per week on average, practices to matches? Who protects the players at all those?

If you do not first educate and change each team’s internal mindset, then players will continue to be in danger.  This is also where the FIFA, the Confederations, National Associates, state associations, and those issuing coaching licenses must lead.  Concussion reduction and proper aftercare must be a fully integrated part of the coaching curriculum. It is where they are ALL failing.

According to the US Soccer Federation, a class, “E,” coaching license is the most basic a coach can get.  It is the license class that teaches the youngest/most inexperienced players.   In USSF License E Guidebook, concussions are only covered in a single pre-course assignment (as far as I can tell), not covered at all in a three day course or listed in their “TEAM MANAGEMENT “TOP 10” SAFETY GUIDELINES.   Here is the full course curriculum which is HIGHLY detailed but lacks any focus on player safety an this is where for that course you have to find reference to concussion, not mention if you actually must complete it and there is no formal grading of it.  It does not seem to gain much more coverage the higher up the coaching ladder you move…

This is the crux of the problem…  if coaches are not trained concussion awareness is important, they will not treat it as important.  Changing the way we educate coaches is the ONLY way, change comes.

The proposals, like Taylor’s and others, that attempt to remove team selection from the coach will backfire.  It will but, what it will not do is protect players.   They won’t be protected in training or playing matches after sustaining concussion in training.  If there is an announced automatic policy in place to force players out of matches with TBI, those players heads become primary targets.  I am not saying they should play with head injuries, of course.. simply that giving extra incentive to intentionally cause TBI’S to remove a player is not the answer either.

Educating coaches concussion awareness and proper handling means teaching coaches that concussions and TBI are the same as any other match ending injury.    Placing them on par with other physical injuries elevates them to “reality” in coaches’ eyes.  At present, they are not a big deal now..  think about this…

It must be on the team’s board, owners, directors, presidents, or whatever group/person oversees the coach to demand that team’s medical professionals make those decisions and get coaches are in full agreement.  It is Precourt’s  responsibility, first and foremost, to institute those requirements and procedures in within the structure of the team.  It cannot be imposed from outside. 

Joachim Low didn’t hesitate to sub Sami Khadira for a hamstring injury because to Low that was a, “real,” injury that negatively impacts his team’s performance.  Christoph Kramer’s concussion was not viewed as probably negatively impacting Germany’s chances until it was possibly too late for Kramer.   Low and the like need to be reeducated.

What is worse is all the kids and their coaches watching Kramer, Pereira, Mascherano and the rest of the players who play through concussions, not think it is cool.. or manly… or required.  Low at the opportunity to  do much more than simply win a World Cup, but the chance to save many lives and careers.  He did it only when forced to do it.  That is not good enough… that is where change must occur.

Let’s hope Low didn’t end Kramer’s career …  Kramer is on record as not remembering  much of the World Cup Final.. dude, been there; I feel ya..

 

 ** UPDATED With TAYLOR’S RESPONSE***

FIFA Does Bad-Ass, Pro-Feminist(y) Things.. I Get Super Conflicted About Them Again

Football is a powerful means of enabling women to fulfil their potential both in sport, and in society. No woman should be subject to discrimination, abuse or disadvantage because of her gender. Football will be a leader in carrying this message to the world

This is a new governing principle of FIFA.  Seriously, it is..  Actually in paper on FIFA letterhead and everything.

64th FIFA Congress, Sao Paulo,  approved a 10 Point Women’s Football Principles, requiring the positive advancement of the women’s game AND WOMEN IN THE GAME at all levels.  The quote above is principle number 10.

Honestly the principles are EXACTLY what  I would have written myself if I were writing the 10 principles of the women’s game.

That are a legitimately fantastic guidepost to spread the women’s game and women in the game to all corners of the world and demand the treatment of female’s involved in the game as players, coaches, decision making roles and fans be with request and equality.

The second principle basically codifies US Title IX into international soccer’s core values.  As an American women, I am proud of this and the women and men who fought 41 years ago to get it first passed.

Once again that I do not hate FIFA feeling is creeping up again and once again, it is creeping me out a lot.  This is the same feeling after seeing Next Goal Wins and for the same reason.  It is the good but normally hidden side of FIFA.  Only FIFA would be able to hide doing great things for communities by being complete D-Bags to communities.

More impressive is this is not just a hollow resolution, FIFA voted to DOUBLE FUNDS FOR IT’S WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM.  Additionally women’s programs are also eligible for five fold increase in funds for equipment to needy programs.   They also call for more women in associates leadership roles, more female coaches, more promotion of the women’s game and other important steps to advance soccer.

[Note:  much like, the, “men’s,” game FIFA used the term, “women’s game,” to mean any program with females.  Girls like boys are also covered under, “youth development,” programs].

The entire list of principles is below…

And note, Sunil  FOCUS ON 4, 8 and 10..   USSF fails there often.    Also note principle one is what I have been saying all along. Women’s game is the last new revenue stream in the game.

here is the link to the Principles on FIFA’s website

 

 

 

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US Soccer Brings A Game to Dodging and Weaving About Qatar 2022 – Gives Story Way More Validity

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This is in response to well respected-veteran journalist Jorge Ramos’s radio show’s tweets Thursday that very roughly translated from Spanish that FIFA told USSF to have the 2022 proposal ready to present plan and have an organizing committee ready by Sept or Oct.   Qatar losing the Cup (or might lose the Cup depending on translation). [Note Ramos tweets have been since been removed]

First of all Neil, BRAVO on a BRILLIANTLY stated non-denial denial statement. That is some solid political maneuvering here and  I respect this level of quality professionalism.

That said, why the hell are you all responding at all?

In the middle of the Brazilian World Cup’s First Day, three days before the team you represent plays its opener, you go OUT OF YOUR WAY to respond IN WRITING to an unverified, highly speculative tweets in Spanish.  IT WASN’T EVEN A STORY, just two tweets.

Yes it had fan traction on twitter but nothing especially big.   This would have been a 2 day story at most, especially with no follow-up.  I get that is what you are hoping the released statement does, but to me it gives the initial reports A LOT more credibility.  Let it die in the cycle, no one would remember/care by the end of the Cup.

The only possible rational I can come up with responding is hoping to turn more journalists off the story before they do their jobs and investigate it. In retrospect, that plans seems to actually work so well done I guess.

Sunil Gulati, your boss, was asked about it of course and handled it in a similarly impressive fashion.  You both left an impressive amount of wiggle room in the statements, like enough to drive the entire infantry tank division through them sideways, while appearing to deny it outright.  Let’s be honest, we both know neither of you denied the overall story outright.

Now your word choices are impressive and I can imagine the amount of time you and your team spent parsing exactly the right phrasing.

Well played, I especially like the choice of, “[t]he report is not accurate[,]” not even using, “inaccurate,” just, “not accurate,” as opposed to say, “the story is untrue.”   Those do no mean the same thing at all but most people will not understand the difference.  

The story being untrue is to say, the story in its entirety is false which fundamentally different than stating it is inaccurate meaning facts presented are incorrect but not touching on the overarching validity of the story. You went with the softest possible word choice in your denial. 

According to a report in Foxsoccer.com states the NY Times Sunil as quoted as saying, “‘[s]imply not true,’ … ‘They haven’t asked us and I cannot imagine it happening anytime soon.'” Now, I agree that would have been a strong, “flat-out,” as it was called denial were it not for the qualifier where he is denying the part where of the story where USSF was “asked.”  [It is not clear who at the NYT interviewed Gulati, best guess is Sam Borden who quoted Gulati in his twitter feed with a couple of disjointed tweets.]

The over theme of these responses is this:  spin it to the media as the formal request was not made in a vague enough manner that it allows the reader to infer the entire essence of the story is false without saying that.

That is the part that I find funniest and the reason that I find these responses so suspect.  I have zero problems believing this is true; there has been no FORMAL contact between FIFA and USSF.  Also there does not need to be.

The timing of all of this given them tons of wiggle room:  The Ramos Show tweets come out two days ago, June 12, 2014 and the responses are either Thursday (from Sunil) whenever Neil Buethe, posted sent his statement.

It is what happened a few days before the report and response, the  FIFA’S Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting June 7th and 8th.   Here is their meeting agenda, pay close attention to parts 8,13.4 and 14.3.

Now, I have no idea what those meeting points entailed in the meeting but what I do know who sits on ExCo, drumroll… Sunil Gulati.   It is disturbing how many journalists/media people either forget this fact or do not intellectually grasp its significance.

There are a couple of reasons this is exceptionally important, first of all.  Sepp Blatter put his boy on ExCo err Sunil was duly elected to ExCo.  Remember all those Blatter’s cronies are corrupt comments may or may not apply to Blatter crony and the President of US Soccer Federation.  I am in no way attempting to cast aspersions on Sunil’s character or morality but just reminding people that he used USSF’S vote to keep Sepp in power AFTER the QATAR VOTE [to be fair, Sepp did vote for the US bid and is not accused nor has any evidenced released shown he was involved in any bribes on the 2018/2022 bids].

The more important reality is Sunil Gulati is not simply the lovable, nerdy, econ prof who gracious leads US Soccer out of the kindness of his noble heart as the media LOVES to present him. REALITY CHECK:  He’s got game and more than willing to use it.  

The ExCo thing is IMPORTANT because FIFA is building a case to move the Cup.  They absolutely are and for one simple reason: cold hard cash money. There is a secondary reason of revenge but that is only Sepp based.

I was accused Thursday of, “thinking like a normal person, not a FIFA exec,” and, “conjuring logic that FIFA doesn’t have.”  Granted those should be taken as compliments.  Look, I am under no delusions about the motivation of FIFA and especially ExCo members.  I do not think they do anything not in their own financial and/or egocentric interest.  They like money.. and they like power.  This Qatar bid nonsense is costing them both and that cannot be tolerated.

Starting last October 3-4, 2013, the first of Sunil’s membership incidentally or not, changes are made to the structure of ExCo meet agendas to what we have now.  The agenda is much more organized and clearer and now we have and agenda area entitled, “Sports-political matters.”  It covered what looks to be a briefing on, “Israel-Palestine situation: discussions in Zurich on 3 and 23 September 2013,” and, “FIFA World Cup Qatar™: period of the competition.”  You know that moving it to winter financial/logistical fiasco.  Two months later in December 2013,  the agenda just went with “2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™.”

In March 2014, it gets super interesting.   There is both an, “Update from the FIFA Secretary General [Jérôme Valcke] on the preparations for the tournaments [WC 2018 and WC 2022],” as well as under the, Sports-political matters banner, “Update from the FIFA President on the Israel-Palestine situation, the Kosovo situation, the Cyprus situation, and the working conditions in Qatar.”   YES, that FIFA President, oh Sepp.

These same sports-political topics topics, all of them, came up at ExCo meeting 5 days ago in São Paulo. Yet 2 days after that at the 64th FIFA Congress,  São Paulo 2014, the agenda covers, “Updates on Israel-Palestine, Kosovo, Cyprus,” but curiously Qatar did not quite make the cut to discuss at Congress.   The Congress is the annual meeting of all the FIFA members, basically the ONLY time in 2014 all the members will be there.   The next Congress is May 2015, at home in Zurich.

Pulling all of this back to the response of USSF gave to the Ramos tweets and why it is so clear that USSF is not really denying them, just denying they were formally asked.

ExCo makes decisions about the location of the World Cup of what which Sunil is a member of course.  Those decisions come from research of the, “Organising [sic.] Committee for the FIFA World Cup (TM),” who them report to ExCo on their findings.. Guess who sits on that organizing committee?   That is right girls and boys, Sunil Gulati.   Yes, the guy FIFA would call to say prepare a plan is the guy at FIFA who request it and then voting on it.

This is why the nuancing of the denial is so key.  USSF does not need formal contact from FIFA if their President is part of the decision making team.

For the record, Sunil is also Chair of the Media Relations Committee, tasked with organizing the, “working conditions for the media at FIFA events and maintain relations with international media organisations.”  Basically, he is FIFA’s faceman.

He is also Vice-Chair of Players’ Status Committee, required to “set up and monitor compliance with the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players and determine the status of Players for various FIFA competitions.” It is unclear is if they have any responsibility for player safety at say a summer World Cup in Qatar or if that is strictly the responsibility for the medical committee.  The Players’ Status Committee made seemingly major changes to player/agent relationships and third party ownership at ExCo last week.

Additionally, he sits on the Associations Committee, which is responsible for maintaining, “relations between FIFA and its Members and draw up proposals for optimum cooperation. The committee shall also monitor the evolution of the Statutes and regulations of FIFA, the Confederations and Members.”

So we clear Sunil Gulati sits on the committee that recommends and overseeing the Organization of the World Cup and on the committed that keeps members happy, is Vice-Chair of the committee that controls player contracts, chairs the committee responsible for playing nice with the media and then sits on the committee that vote for the changes to the 2022 World Cup venue.  Yet, we are supposed to believe this story is false because USSF has not been contact about it and does not expect to be anytime soon?  Sunil when are those committees getting on deciding so FIFA can ask USSF?  [If you are interested this is a list of all Americans on FIFA committees including FIFA Ethics Chief Investigator Michael Garcia]

Now then why would FIFA move the Cup?  It is not out of some altruistic sense of righteousness.   This is politics pure and simple.  Sepp wanted the Cup in America and for two very good if basic reasons: a  World Cup in the US is basically a license for FIFA to print money and it takes out enemies.

According to FIFA, they have spent over $2 Billion USD [$1 Billion spent in Brazil] of their own money on operational costs for World Cup 2014.  They will leave the real costs of hosting into the locations: stadium constructions/renovations, construction of roads, transportation systems, hotels, etc to the host nation.  Brazil estimated to pay approximately $13 Billion for the infrastructure development and upgrades paid for by a loan from Brazilian Development Bank.  This s what is causing the rioting in the streets.

By contrast, the US combined 2018/2022 USA Bid Committee economic impact report conducted by ERA/AECOM  the US hosting would cost approximately $10 million per stadium in infrastructure changes including installing grass and perimeter fencing as well as installing or upgrading the media center to accommodate international media.  [for the max 12 WC stadiums that is a $120 mil total].  Additionally,  Atlanta would be the headquarters of the International Broadcast Center (IBC) since it already has a significant amount of media infrastructure in place.  There was not an additional amount of outlays required but a 5% sale tax was assumed.

[I do not remember the economic impact statement ever being publicly released and I read several things that it had not been released but I found it.  It is very interesting, especially using Washington DC metro area’s FedEx Field as hosts of the Final Match at USSF request]

The 2010, 2014, potentially 2018 and 2022 all have a couple of things in common:  serious infrastructure concerns and almost all of the required World Cup level infrastructure being built from scratch.  FIFA could really use a easy one that does not require a $2 billion dollar investment on $4.2 Billion in revenue, which takes almost half their money.  The US Bid would not require nearly that investment and therefore on they would be able to keep a significantly higher portion of the revenue generated.  AND THEY LIKE MONEY.

There is the added pressure of bedrock FIFA sponsors publicly questioning it 7 years out. That has a huge effect and puts significant pressure on FIFA to act to resolve it.  These are massive companies that spend billions on public relations and the one thing that do not want is to be public associated with human rights abuses and deaths.  FIFA does not care what human rights workers or social justice campaigners complain about but the loss of sponsor money and it is a new ballgame.

Secondarily but not insignificant, is the war between Sepp/Platini using FIFA/UEFA as weapons.  The hate each other, Platini has just announced he would not support Sepp’s assumed next run and has threatened in the past to run against him.

Why this massive ego-off matters is Platini was major supporter of Qatar 2022 and still supports it to the point he is supportive of moving it to winter.  A mindboggling decision as it would have a highly detrimental effect on almost the entirety of European club soccer including the Champions League schedule which as President of UEFA is his bread and butter.

Soon it will be open warfare and the FIFA’S Ethics Committee will be primary in that effort.  I believe American Michael Garcia who is heading up the investigation, a former US Attorney and current partner at Kirkland & Ellis, will do a comprehensive and honest investigation leading to a report that accurately reflects what happened and who is at fault.

I think that is why he was chosen but not for the public-spirited ideal of fighting corruption.   Sepp seems to be in no way connected to any ethical violations for the Qatar 2022 bid but his enemies including Paltini are.   This reeks of a White Bulger mob move..   White turned FBI informant on rival mobsters so the US government would take care of them for him.  Sepp got the guy who would investigate and force the removal of his enemies for him and to make it all above reproach.   That is major game. 

It has already started.  Franz Beckenbauer is banned from the game for 90-days conveniently covering the World Cup span.    He is Bayern Munich honorary president, former member of ExCo who voted for the Russia/Qatar block an then stepped down shortly thereafter.  Oh and he is close, very close, to Platini to the point of supporting a Platini FIFA presidency back in 2011.  Enemies are falling..  it will continue.

I think my favorite FIFA move is subtle, simple but brilliantly ruthless renaming of the Stadium and Security Committee to the “Security and Integrity Committee.”  That is a linguistic stiletto between the 4-5 ribs.

Garica’s report is due sometime this summer after this World Cup with its potential recommendations.  The Organising [sic.] Committee for the FIFA World Cup (TM) meets July 11, two days before this final.  ExCo meets again September 25-26, which is exactly the time frame laid out in Ramos’s tweets

Again, I absolutely believe US Soccer when they all say, it is, “not accurate,” that FIFA has not contacted them.  I do not believe that means the overarching story is not true, necessarily. I do not know if the story is true, no idea how good Ramos’s source is but the independent facts and USSF response do not in any way discredit it.

If you doubt that Sunil is capable of some dodging and weaving I will remind you of this moment just a few weeks ago.  Phil Schoen reports finally the Copa American 2016 in America is a done deal down to the date of the announcement.  Sunil responds saying, ” Copa America 2016 in U.S.? Interesting idea but nothing agreed to by @ussoccer yet.”

As I responded then and still do now, non-denial denials FTW.

BINGO – Sexism At the World Cup dealt with thanks to @EverydaySexism and @KDS_Football

BINGO - Sexism At the World Cup dealt with thanks to @EverydaySexism and @KDS_Football

I know this was tweeted yesterday but in case anyone missed @everydaysexism World Cup Sexism Bingo Card… Enjoy, be horrified that is that accurate.

 

Additionally, @KDS_Football wrote a hand guide of, “10 rules for not being a gross misogynist during the World Cup” It is perfect.. People should follow it like they are the 10 Commandments for the next 34 days and then pretty much every moment of every sporting event for every sport for the remainder of time.

ESPN Does a Celeb Version of I Believe Commercial.. So there is that and A TON O’Fail

What is the deal ESPN? I don’t get why you hate female fans so much.. What is it?

The only female celebrity included is Whoopi Goldberg who says, “I.” Literal that is all she says in the whole commercial

That is it.. male celebs include Jimmy Fallon, John Hamm, Ice Cube, Keven Costner, Barry Sanders, and a host of others guys.

They also have Hope who says, “I Believe that we” and Abby who does the full, “I believe that we will win” chant. I am thrilled at the inclusion of the Women’s National Team in Supporting The boys and I would except that Deuce and BB Bradley as well as the rest of the team support the ladies next summer this much,

Where are the female celebs to support the team? None of those celebs (but Ice Cube) are clearly invested in the team so you couldn’t find a female or two who could be equally uninterested?

more than anything the ad is just bad.. it has zero emotion from the celebs other than Abby, and Ice Cube. Even Hope looks uninterested, honestly.  Why not get Drew Carey, Matthew McConaughey, Will Farrell, Kobe, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, etc.

If you are wondering, Cameron Diaz can do this, so yeah she would be a good choice

Now Jon Hamm is a soccer fan and did do a short doc on Deuce for Degree

Behind the Scenes: