I want to change tacks (a sailing term by the way) diverging from my recent COVID-19 posts, and share some other news I found peculiar and enlightening yesterday, Friday, May 15. My readers who are sports fans, particularly football/futebol fans (Ark, John Z), should find this interesting, I hope.
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Some of you know that I am an avid football/soccer fan. I played The World’s Most Beautiful Game all my life, had a very successful collegiate career, and a rather short, average pro career then semi-pro career. All that to say, that along with the Canarinha, or Little Canaries of Brazil, I enjoy keeping up with our U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Soccer Teams, their schedule, who is coming up through the ranks as Wonder Kids and how our Youth Development is progressing compared to the Juggernauts of world football’s Pantheon. So off we go!
From our Declaration of Independence, 1776:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
“That all men are created equal.” What does that mean exactly? How does it translate to 21st century America? Does it mean equality for all Americans? Does it mean a nation without prejudice, without discrimination and racism, and tolerance for same-sex marriage? If your honest about all of American history, in all aspects of American life, then the answer is no. Some Americans are not equal and do not have equal opportunity as others.
And even 244-years later Americans are still confused and fighting each other as to how those famous opening words translate. So in our Declaration of Independence, later spelled out in much more detail in the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and all her Articles and Amendments it was further defined and explicitly and implicitly explained, protected, and enforced by our Three Branches of Government. And yet many of us are still confused, sometimes fighting each other, and still practicing and supporting modern forms of discrimination, prejudice, and inequality in too many areas of American life. Case and point, from the U.S. Soccer Federation website May 15, 2020…
JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE U.S. SOCCER FEDERATION AND THE U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION
Today the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation released the following joint statement:
We have come to an agreement that we believe is in the best interest for the sport in the United States. As we move forward, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation will work together to provide access and opportunities for all soccer players across the country, particularly those in low-income communities and others in need.
That is all they said. Just 74-words
Though the statement isn’t specifically spelled out in detail, barely at all, I believe what the USSF and the USSother-F are indirectly stating has to do with our now decades old Youth Academies and Development Programs across the nation. I find that highly intriguing and worth a bit of discussion should anyone be interested! Yes?
One reason why I find this highly intriguing for the men’s team is that since the late 1990’s and the FIFA 2002 World Cup in S. Korea & Japan—when our USMNT did phenomenally well with many highly accomplished players playing their club ball in Europe at good-to-great, elite, world class clubs with and against the world’s other elite, world-class players and coaches—the USMNT performances since 2002 have been a roller-coaster and shockingly unpredictable qualifying for the World Cups every four years and worse still, out of one of the easiest Confederations to WC-Qualify from: CONCACAF.
Why is it easy, or should be so easy, for the men’s U.S. National Team to qualify for the World Cup every four years? Mexico does it pretty much every single time. Costa Rica and maybe Panama or Honduras qualify every so often. Three nations qualify out of a total of maybe FOUR traditionally power-house nations; three is perhaps more accurate. Yet, with all the financial clout, resources, and sporting athletes the United States possesses now and has possessed since 1994—when the World Cup was here last and President Reagan promised FIFA and CONCACAF we would have a premier football league by 1996 or 1998. From a 1988 New York Times article:
U.S. Awarded ’94 World Cup Tourney in Soccer
Fricker said the U.S.S.F. will begin developing plans for a national soccer league, one that will encompass in some way teams from existing semiprofessional indoor and outdoor leagues. The league, he said, would operate at three levels, based on ability, to create ”the ideal environment for America to develop highly skilled players.” Presumably, as the 1994 tournament approaches, the best players will win positions on the American team.
— by Michael Janofsky, NY Times, accessed 5/15/2020
Unfortunately, none of this has really happened. Not for the boys and men. Why not? One of the USMNT’s most tragic performances since Reagan’s promise to FIFA and Americans in 1988 was not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. We were beaten by Trinidad-Tobago and thus eliminated, and after a very good showing four years earlier in Brazil (see below ESPN video).
Yes, I do believe! I believed in our USMNT not only during the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, but for our national men’s teams from 1994-1998 because we had several talented boys playing for clubs in Europe and South America! Some of them came through the mediocre NCAA-D1 programs, yes. But many of them did not waist those four irreplaceable years, went to play with outstanding foreigners in other divisions and leagues, then went abroad to improve. That is, improve European or South American style. Yes indeed, we had the talent then, we still have it now! What has been going wrong?
Another case and point. Ever since the incredible tournament play in the Group Stage then Round of 16, continuing into the Quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, our absolute pinnacle to-date for soccer history and our boys, and we are still struggling! Something has not been jiving in U.S. men’s national team football, in our professional leagues like the defunct NASL, the old MLPS, the USFL, and now MLS as well as in the Youth Development programs the last 26-years or more? Twenty-six years is a time-span of at least one or two American generations! Do we now have a blurred answer, a sort of iffy cloudy answer now?
What are the USSF and the USSother-F saying, but not saying?
I would love to see your thoughts about this Joint Statement, its implied cause(s), and the implications and possible outcomes.
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