Get to know the Qatari skyline, I suspect you’ll be seeing it a lot of it in 2022.
So I head out to the Other Banks for a bit of R&R and I return to find a world where something positive (and even lucky) happened in Washington sports and where England now views its World Cup bid as a smoldering pile of metal.
Let’s start with last week’s squabble started by Bill’s post saying that the US World Cup bid is not nearly the “favorite” that many folks here (and elsewhere) have pegged it for.
I’ve actually come around to Bill’s side here. I always have thought Qatar, and its near limitless sums of cash, would be a legitimate opponent, but now with news that Blatter is openly opining for the Gulf and Qatar to get the World Cup, it’s hard to believe that the US can finish any better than second. Throwing Bill Clinton at the bid is nice, but after reading this by longtime FIFA observer Mihir Bose, I suspect Blatter has quietly told Qatari officials, including the powerful potential rival Mohamed Bin-Hammam, that Qatar gets its World Cup as long as Bin Hammam doesn’t oppose Blatter for the FIFA Presidency. When you look at at Qatar’s combination of unlimited money and political leverage, it’s hard to see how even big shots like the USA, Australia, and Japan had a chance.
Moving on to England, its bid has been imploded by a sting done by the Mail on Sunday catching Lord Triesman, the head of the bid and Chief Exec of the FA casually making corruption accusations against Spain and Russia to a woman whom he allegedly had previous had an affair with. Obviously, the politics and optics of this are terrible for England and with smart people like Henry Winter saying the bid is doomed, I’m inclined to agree. Amongst FIFA, and within the greater non-English speaking soccer community, England has to overcome the high barrier of perceived arrogance. Things like this only go to make that perception even greater.
Allow me for a moment to talk about the Mail on Sunday’s responsibility in all this. Why the hell did they choose to sting Triesman about this? It’s clearly entrapment and entrapment with no clear purpose. The sting didn’t expose any corruption or any massive news. All it did was embarrass a public figure. The accusations were not in the public interest in any possible way and just completely and utterly pointless. I’m glad to see that English opinion is coming down on the Mail.
The FA and England will never win anything on or off the field until two things happen.
- The Premier League reduces the number of fixtures top clubs play and institutes a winter break so that English players don’t enter major tournaments is a state of physical exhaustion.
- The English tabloid media decides that there is more money to be made by allowing England and the FA to conduct its business rather than through conducting stings and concocting scandals in order to destroy the England team and those around it.
Jozy’s confidence is exactly what the US needs.
Sticking with England, if only peripherally, I love the story out of Yahoo that had Jozy Altidore telling David Beckham that the US is going to beat England 3-1.
“I saw Becks there and I had to go over and tell him what is going to happen in South Africa,” Altidore said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Sports. “I made sure he knows how it’s going to be without him playing – USA 3, England 0.
I agree with Jozy entirely. A little bit of this attitude could help the US a lot come South Africa. When the US has tended to be embarrassed is when they have come out in awe of their opponent such as last summer against Italy or pretty much the entirety of France 98. All of the reasons people used to give about why the US so often appeared star-struck or terrified when on the biggest stage are gone now. Our players play in Europe just like they do. Our players play on the biggest stages just like they do. Our players have played with and even beaten the best in the world just like they have. Screw bulletin board material, we want our guys believing they can play with England and every other team they’re going to face at the World Cup.
Flipping over the to the club game, I’m not surprised for one moment that Cesc Fabregas has asked to leave Arsenal for Barcelona. If I were him, I would too. Fabregas wants to win trophies and with Wenger either refusing or unable to build a trophy-winning team around him, Cesc ought to go to Barcelona where he won’t after worry about idiot goalkeeping or cut-rate defenders. I agree entirely when the Independent’s James Lawton says that Wenger is to blame for not providing Fabregas a supporting cast worthy of his talent.
Adios Cesc, Arsenal and Wenger had its chance and instead they failed both you and Arsenal’s fans.
Finally, I leave you with this oddity from the Gaffer on EPLTalk.
First of all, there are lots of great bars where fans can and do watch the US. But what makes the venue isn’t the shit on the walls or size of the TV, or the food being served. It’s not about the music being played or the cleanliness of the bathrooms, it’s about the act and the joy of gathering together to watch the game. I’ve watched games underneath photos of the Irish hunger strikers, while eating saltenas, and on jumbotrons in stadiums with thousands of other fans. I’ve watched them broadcast in English, in Spanish, and even for a few minutes back in 1998 in Arabic. Call me a luddite, but in the end, all I need is a working TV, some kind of access to beer, and some other US fans around me. Though would it be too much to ask to not have the stupid ones wondering why John O’Brien isn’t still playing seated right by me?