This past weekend while working a promotional event at the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) in downtown Toronto I was able to take part in a very large world cup street party. This street party was part of what has been known as Soccer Day in Canada. Like many cities around the world hosting similar events, this was a fun filled street party. Several streets were closed off to traffic allowing businesses and tents to be set up for the general public. There were a number of sporting companies on site, a large beer tent, a stage for musical performances and several large screen tv’s which showed the Toronto FC game (MLS), the third place between Uruguay and Germany and the finals between Holland and Spain. The entire weekend was a great soccer event that was free of charge and brought together people of all nationalities and backgrounds for one thing: the love of the game.
Recently the discussion came up regarding team loyalty at all levels of play or should I say the lack of team loyalty. Every year, and more often than not, players at all levels are switching teams to seek greater personal fame, a larger pay cheque or immediate championships. The sense of loyalty where young players grow up supporting their favorite team and then playing for them is gone. This type of behavior hurts the game in the short and long run. Furthermore, it takes away from fan enjoyment. This type of non-loyalty is becoming common in all sport today including the NHL, NBA and the NFL. When there is a lack of respect, loyalty and honor, aspects surrounding the sport begin to lose value quickly. The expression “blood, sweat and tears” is no more.
This year’s world cup has brought many things; excitement, drama, heart wrenching disappointment and of course CONTROVERSY.
As a long-time advocate of technology in sport, it amazes me how the soccer powers that be, still fail to embrace the 21th century. Why leave to chance a botched call that can be so easily resolved by a 10 second review of the game.
As one commentator put it, “the American dream has come to an end.” The men’s US nation soccer team fell out of the 2010 World Cup in the round-of-16. Once the dust settles, there are many questions to be answered: did the US exceed expectations or fall short? Where does US soccer rank in comparison to the top teams in the world? Finally, what conclusions can be drawn about US soccer and, ultimately, North American soccer?
You want the good news or the bad news? Let’s start with the bad news…
American soccer will never be the same. After years of hard work and a growing population of soccer fans, American soccer has finally turned the corner and will start receiving the media and fan attention it deserves. Landon Donovan’s 91st minute world cup goal versus Algeria has changed American soccer forever. His goal puts the US top of the group, ahead of the almighty England, and advances them to the knock-out stage. More than that, it was the first time that Americans could truly experience the passion and joy that the game of soccer can bring. After all, this is what it’s all about!
As the 2010 FIFA World Cup is underway I can’t help but notice many Canadians waving the flags of the respective country they are cheering for. I am often asked “what country are you cheering for.” Like many Canadians we are cheering for the country where we have family connections. This could be grandparents or even first generation parents that have immigrated to Canada. There is no harm in any of this patriotism that Canadians feel towards other nations. But wouldn’t it be great to channel this patriotism and cheer for Canada at the World Cup? With that being said question must be asked: when will Canada quality for the World Cup?
A topic many soccer fans (and sports fans for that matter) fail to acknowledge or don’t take seriously is match fixing. Match fixing has polluted many sports and it has been going on for a long time at every level. How it happens is an entirely separate process but believe me…it happens and it will continue to happen.
Most people are surprised, even shocked, to hear that match fixing occurs. Because it is such a secretive and manipulative process, the general public remains blind and unaware.
I recently looked at the Toronto FC player roster to discover that this season has almost an entirely new team. How can this be? Surely there would be some returning players but the entire starting eleven is new. OK so I’ll give these guys a chance and hope to rally behind them but what is going to happen next year? How many more new players will there be?
For Christmas a few years ago I was given the book titled How Soccer Explains The World – an unlikely theory of globalization by Franklin Foer. I remember enjoying reading it very much and recently decided to pick it up again and re-educate myself. The author, Franklin Foer, is a contributing editor at New York magazine and senior editor at The New Republic. His writings have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He took a year off to travel the world and interview some of the biggest club representatives, firm bosses, players and hooligans in the world. His research details how soccer is affecting and and in many ways creating globalization.