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June 21, 2006

Comments

jfs

Norman Tebbit, who was somewhat to the right of Ghengis Khan when it came to politics, famously suggested the Cricket Test for immigrants back in 1990. Anyone who came to Britain and wasn't prepared to support the English cricket team was to be considered suspect.

Ignoring for the moment that Britain != England, and that it's perfectly possible to be born and bred British and to not care in the slightest for the England cricket team, you might find this article in the Observer on Sunday which talks about the increasing number of non-white and female English football fans (and even non-white female fans).

While no one is suggesting that Norman Tebbit was right, and that if you don't support England, you're not really 'English', it is interesting to see increasing support for the English team amongst non-white men.

Starfoxy

Could part of our desire to root for other countries be in the seeming hopelessness of the American team actually winning.

Hugo

Thanks for the link, JFS.

Starfoxy, if you talk to most England fans (or read the message boards) we despair of England winning too. And trust me, most of the Mexican-Americans I know don't give Mexico a serious chance of winning either! It's more about patriotic pride than a sincere conviction that their side can win. Let's remember, FIFA ranks the USA above England.

David Thompson

What does it say about the rest of the world that they're inordinately passionate about a game which can only be won if the other team actively fails?

Paul

the second to last paragraph makes me think you are superman-- able to conflate erroneous premises in a single bound.

Hugo

Paul, I look forward to your defense of the superiority of the MLS over the Premiership or the Bundesliga, or perhaps to the coverage of soccer available at CNNSI as opposed to the BBC online.

Paul

i was thinking that if the likes of the french, germans and mexicans, iranians, et al. had better coverage of amercian football/ basketball they might infact have a better worldview with sustained progess. but with the likes of your thinking china should show us all within 20 years--wushu anyone?

Hugo

Well, as you know, we can't seem to win world championships in basketball and baseball when we actually play teams from the rest of the world. The World Baseball Classic was a hoot, and you have to love the fine American effort in hoops at the Athens Olympics. The NBA is marketed EVERYWHERE, especially in China (thanks in part to the celebrity of Yao Ming!)

Soccer isn't something a country can "buy". The beauty of the game is that unlike most popular American sports, drugs don't help. Ain't no steroid gonna make you a beter soccer player; money can buy a great club team (Real Madrid, Chelsea) but it's not the richest countries that automatically win the World Cup. So will China eventually dominate in soccer? Not for several generations at the earliest.

Paul

i wasn't thinking so much about the money, as the greater diversity and expanse(opportuninty for the marginalized to particpate)of many sports in general that the US sustains.

spiritrover

I think if the US team had more history of success, or more chance of success this time out, the fans would follow. As it is, though I am as American as a metaphor, I am cheering for France and for Germany. France, because my kids go to a French immersion school, and I enjoy learning new cursewords when I talk to their teachers about Les Bleus, and Germany because way back when, that's where my family came from. But without those teams' histories of success, or chance of success in the case of Germany, it'd be pointless to get too worked up about it.

Sinforiano

I intend to watch that game tomorrow between the US and Ghana. Ghana is a really tough team! I really like soccer as you might have guessed.

Beppie

We have a similar situation here in Australia-- most people have at least one parent born in another country, if they weren't born in another country, or are married to someone born in another country. As a matter of fact, the captain of the Socceroos is of Croation heritage-- go figure. :)

I'm half Dutch myself, so I'm going for both Australia and the Netherlands-- if both countries end up playing against each other later on, I'll default to Australia though.

Jill

Funny... I think if I was living in the States right now, I'd be cheering for Serbia (where my family is from). But because I'm the only American in my workplace in among my group of friends here, I'm really pushing for the USA.

And it's more than just empty cheering. I've sat around and thought about exactly why I want America to win -- I have a lot of free time here :-) -- and have come up with tons of reasons: Soccer isn't valued enough in the States, and so this could give it a boost; American players aren't recognized as superstars the way that David Beckham and Joe Cole are, and it would be good for them; etc etc.

Point is, I think the experience of being an "other" in a different culture and country can push one to want to represent for themselves and their countries. Hence first-generation Korean and Mexican students living the USA cheering for Korea and Mexico, and this American girl living in Greece cheering for America.

Adelheid

The Croatia-Australia match is being referred to as Croatia v Croatia (seven Aussies on the Socceroos squad have Croation heritage... there's also a few Italians in there somewhere (Bresciano and Aloisi spring to mind)). The best line I've read today? "Multiculturalism means never having to lose at football/soccer".

As a dual American/Australian citizen, I do tend to find myself backing Australia more regularly in sport; particularly in those sports where Australia is the genuine underdog (ie, soccer, particularly). It may be "Croatia v Croatia", but I want Australia (and the USA) to go through to the next round...

bmmg39

I've actually wondered this for a few World Cups now...

Why is Italy wearing blue uniforms?

Hugo

bmmg, they've been the "Azzuri" (the blues) for as long as I can remember.

We watched both matches this morning; happy for Ghana but disappointed for the US -- the match should have been 1-0, Ghana; the US goal was offside and the penalty after the Ghanaian dive was utterly unwarranted.

I like Multiculturalism means never having to lose at football/soccer line a lot. It certainly is true in our house, though my beloved will be desperate if Croatia can't get past the Aussies.

Jill, I hear you. Whenever I've spent significant time abroad (mostly in Italy, Austria, and the UK), I become more protective (in a way) of certain things American. I've certainly vociferously defended the virtues of American football in English pubs and Italian cafes!

Col Steve

Well, as you know, we can't seem to win world championships in basketball and baseball when we actually play teams from the rest of the world. The World Baseball Classic was a hoot, and you have to love the fine American effort in hoops at the Athens Olympics.

Hugo - that comment is off the mark and perhaps not what was "inflationary" in your second to the last paragraph. Consider the USA men's basketball team is 114-5 in Olympic competiton over the last 70 years. Over the last 36 years, only 3 nations - the US, Yugoslavia, and Russia (USSR/Russia) have won the World Championship in basketball. Similarly, in soccer, only teams from South America and Europe have won the World Cup and Brazil, Germany, and Italy constitute 65% of the winning nations - and on occasion, even they falter (look at France and Argentina in 2002 and Italy losing to South Korea in the round of 16).

Yes, the best soccer players in the world tend to play in the Premiership or Bundesliga (or FC Barcelona/Real Madrid in La Liga and AC Milan/Juventus in Serie A) because those leagues/teams pay the top salaries. That situation is similar to the NBA and MLB paying top salaries and attracting the best players from around the globe. So, soccer isn't something a country can "buy" - but the big money leagues serve as yearly training grounds for the traditional powers. Would Brazil be as good if 10 players weren't on FC-Barcelona or Real Madrid (and most of the rest on other European teams)? The dominance of the European leagues means England/Germany/Spain/Italy would have competitive teams until perhaps a tipping point of foreign players occurs (currently, EPL is 56%, La Liga 29%, and Bundesliga 48% foreigners respectively). The US can't "buy" wins in basketball or baseball, but the dominance of the NBA/MLB will ensure the US remains in the elite class just as the European powers will remain competitive in World Cup soccer (again, until perhaps those leagues become so dominated by foreign nationals to the point where they crowd out the national teams players - hardly likely given you only need 18-20 players).

Ain't no steroid gonna make you a beter soccer player - perhaps. Steriods don't help baseball pitchers throw faster - but they do help them "recover" faster, especially from injuries - something very important to soccer players as well. FIFA was the last Olympic sport to adopt WADA code so the data is still out on the prevalance of drug use in the sport, especially since some "drugs" more applicable to soccer do not have an internationally accepted testing method yet.

But I digress. Your comment - It's only natural that those of us who care about soccer might visit, say, the Guardian's World Cup homepage -- and then stay and read some of the Guardian's left-of-center political commentary! I care about soccer and don't visit the Guardian. Even if I did, I'd probably not read the political commentary as BBC and few other sources do just fine. One could argue "it's only natural for those of us who care about soccer and predisposed to reading sources such as the Guardian" is more appropriate than the claim you make. For the mildly interested, googling (and a few other search engines) "World Cup soccer results" won't produce the Guardian. Even if you follow the EPL as I do, you can find and follow English soccer through a lot of other sources.

And - On the other hand, the long-held suspicion of "middle America" that soccer is a "blue-state" passion may have some truth. You're hanging a lot on the word "may." There's some pretty good youth, especially women's, soccer played in "Red" states like Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina - but I doubt it's only the "conservatives" playing - just like I doubt it's only the "liberals" playing in CA, NY, or IL. And just who are these "middle American" anti-soccer groups? Let me guess - they're organzing while at NASCAR events.

To put it mildly, much of the the rest of the world is increasingly anti-American; caring passionately about soccer means that American fans of the sport are more likely than their neighbors to be exposed to these different views. Again, some truth in there, but I think you're hanging a lot on "increasingly," "more likely." and "much." Increasingly and more likely compared to what? And what do you mean by much (the 15 countries surveyed by Pew or Zogby?). I've been in 40+ countries since 9/11 and while I might agree there is increasing anti-Bush or anti-Iraq policy sentiment, you have to tread lightly in what you mean by "anti-American." You could look at the Zogby poll from about a year ago (I think) that also asked about "american people", "american products", and "american education" with mostly favorable ratings in Arab nations - constrasting with unfavorable ratings in the same poll when asked about "american support for Israel" or "american policy to Palestine."

I believe if you read what you wrote in that paragraph objectively, you might at least see why even someone who generally concurs with what you write might "raise the offside flag."

mercedes

That was one of the best games I think I've ever seen. The Mexicans really played a fabulous game. Hope you were watching....I'm afraid that if Argentina had not scored that second goal my mother-in-law would have passed out in Argentina. I think the entire country (Argentina) stood still during this game, Mexico played an outstanding game. Argentina barely got on top of them until the second half. __Argentine's have reached the end of the line though, they meet the Germans next, (an amazing power house). Should be a fun game.

Hope all is well with you and your family. Take care.

Zoka

Hello All,

What do you think, if Zidane was not to hit Materazzi in that finals game would the outcome be different? Would the French have enough strength to actualy score?

I believe that nothing would have changed!

Cheers

Zoka

Zidane Game

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