Thursday, January 31, 2008

how soccer explains absolutely, positively everything.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

You'd think that, here at the Collective, all we do is eat, breathe and sleep soccer. Well, we do--sorta. Both my and bsto's homepages are I can't really explain why--I think it's the redcurrant that's easy on the eyes at 7 AM. Oh, and because the site heralds the greatest team on the planet. Yeah, that.


But I digress. Today, I just found some articles that illustrate that, as Franklin Foer's "How Soccer Explains the World"...well, soccer really does explain the world. Well, maybe not explains--but it is a perfect microcosm of the world: xenophobia, sexism and money.

(Sexism: Fifa's prez, Sepp Blatter, said "
"Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men - such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?" )


First up: An Iraqi player's work permit was denied because Iraq's national team is not among the top 70 teams in the world.

If one isn't from the European Union, getting a work permit to play professional football in England is incredibly tough (as if being wanted by a club wasn't difficult enough). One must play for a top 70 nation squad and must have featured in at least 75% of his home nation's senior national team games in the last two years.

This has prevented many players from playing in England--especially many Americans. This rule hurts non-EU citizens who are talented but young (Freddy Adu)--these players could be exponentially better if they were training at the academies of one of Europe's best sides. Nothing against the US' facilities (we have the absolute best in the world...and, for this very reason, we will win the World Cup within the next 20 years), but the competition within the US just is not the greatest as of yet.

This rule penalizes not only youngsters but also those not privileged enough to be born in "footballing nations". We want to talk about spreading the wealth and giving people opportunities, yet we close the door on people based on the fact that they were weren't born within the right imaginary, arbitrary country line. Absolutely absurd.


Next: Howard University's coach was busted in a teenage sex trap. Once your sport reaches To Catch a Predator know you've hit the big time.

I know, there's nothing funny about soliciting a minor. There isn't. But the cat stuff? AND THE COP DRESSED AS A SHRUB?


Ok, on a semi-serious note, if you haven't already taken our advice and started to read the Guardian's Soccer coverage daily, start doing so. Even if you don't care about transfers or scores or the table or anything, they've got a staff of great writers who talk about the cultural implications of the sport on a daily basis.

Case in point: How Football Can Explain the US Elections.

Sure, maybe you don't need it if you're a politics-following American, but I sure found it insightful and enlightening.

On a similar note, the venerable Economist has taken on American football v. international football
on many occasions.

And it has also been rebuffed.


Cheers--two days left in the week!