I don’t care that USA is not going to Russia

USA men’s nationalism team went to Trinidad and Tobago, angered the locals by making a big deal of the conditions, and then promptly lost in a fit of American hubris not seen since… well since something Trump probably did this morning on Twitter.

Trinidad and Tobago are a dual island nation in the Caribbean (off the coast of Venezuela) and in case you have forgotten about recent events (and maybe you don’t believe in science) there have been eight hurricanes dumping tons of water on their country. No amount of drainage was going to prevent surface water from accumulating and sure enough, the Ato Boldon Stadium was flooded. But in a tone deaf few moments of American history, the USA men’s nationalism team changed their twitter hashtag from #roadtorussia to #rivertorussia.

The Ato Boldon Stadium is named after one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most beloved athletes, Ato Boldon. Mr. Boldon expressed his pride that the USA team would be playing in his stadium before the match but also dismay that the track was flooded, speaking to Newsday he said:

“I woke up this morning to that all over my Twitter, and I was a little annoyed at first because I felt like this supposed to be a fun week for me, because the US team playing in that stadium is kind of a thrill for me,” Boldon said.

“I have since spoken to people who live in the area and they said, ‘Listen, you don’t understand the kind of rain that has been falling there.’ Stadia flood all over the world so I am looking at it a bit differently now. No amount of drainage would have probably helped that situation.”

If only the USA Men’s Nationalism team had a similar level of understanding. But they didn’t and their social media antics angered the local population, giving the T & T players an extra fire in their bellies.

Trini assistant coach Stern John spoke to USA Today and said “There was a lot of fire in our eyes. I think it was disrespectful of them. I think they were a bit overconfident and a bit disrespectful because they came in yesterday and rain fell on the pitch and they were giving each other piggybacks (over the water) and all kind of stuff.

“Rain fell, it is not our fault. They made a big scene out of it and it was international news all over the world. It was all over the media. Our families (told us about it). Most of our guys are on social media so they see it. They see the USA guys getting piggybacked to the field – it is embarrassing.”

Whether that outrage really won them the match is irrelevant. I only bring it up because it’s embarrassing to see these rich Americans travelling to another country and making fun of them for the conditions that they live in. Who does that?

That hubris didn’t just rest in the boots of the USA Men’s Nationalism team. After the loss, soccer pundit Taylor Twellman launched into a spittle-flecked rant about how the USA should beat Trini. In scenes reminiscent of Alex Jones’ Infowars or Peter Finch’s Howard Beale from Network, Twellman rants about how the “billion dollars” MLS failed, how the television contracts need to take responsibility, mentions pay-to-play, and suggests that the nation needs to come together with a 10-year plan to make America great again, so that we can win the World Cup. He ends his rant pointing fingers and holding up his phone and calling people “idiots”.

And it’s the incredulous tone he uses to describe how the USA should beat Trinidad and Tobago which really riles.

This is America right now. President Trump makes a Twellman rant every day. Because what’s happening in America is that many people passionately believe that this country deserves better. But the reality is that we are getting exactly what we deserve.

I could talk at length about the actual match and why USA lost. The USA men’s Nationalism team is pieced together from the discarded parts of old men. These are has beens who have been has beens for years now: Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and worst of all Clint Dempsey – players who couldn’t make it in Europe so they have been plying their trade in the Senior’s league here in the usa affectionately called “major league soccer”. Youth players like Pulisic and Yedlin seem to be few and far between, or at least they aren’t getting into the first team while Michael Bradley is hogging up space and air.

And the team is managed by Bruce Arena, the manager who brought the USA team into the international spotlight before being fired in 2006. That was ten years ago and ironically, the last player to score a goal under that Bruce Arena tenure was Clint Dempsey. That was back when Dempsey was just 23 years old. He’s 34 now. 35 if you ask some Arsenal supporters.

But ultimately I don’t care about the USA Soccer team. I don’t care about whether they make it to Russia. I don’t care about FIFA or enriching them by watching their substandard product. I don’t care for these pointless international breaks and the constant money-spinning tournaments that FIFA put on to enrich the thieves and liars who have been in power at FIFA for the last 20 years.

FIFA are straight up thugs, corporate thugs who literally just extract capital from poor countries. You look at the effects that the World Cup have had on South Africa and Brazil and judge for yourself what’s really going on. Brazil spent $15bn hosting the 2014 World Cup. Almost $4bn of that was on stadiums. Stadiums like the Maracanã, which now lies fallow, the pitch infected with worms, 7,000 seats stolen, $1bn in debt to the electric company, and serious questions being raised about its structural integrity. Almost all of the stadiums in Brazil have similar stories: they are too cavernous and expensive to host local teams, so they often sit fallow, costing taxpayers billions a year to service.

The same thing happened in South Africa. Writing in Sports Illustrated five years after the 2010 World Cup, James Young observed:

A mere four years after the competition, most of South Africa’s World Cup venues stand largely empty, used only for poorly attended local soccer games and the occasional concert. It is a long way from being enough to justify the huge construction and running costs of the stadiums. One of those is the $600 million Cape Town Stadium, which, according to a story in the Toronto Globe and Mail last year, is losing an estimated $6 million-$10 million annually.

Unlike Brazil and South Africa, FIFA made a nice little profit off each event. $2.4bn in profits, PROFITS, off 2010 and $2.6bn in profits off 2014. The same will happen in Russia next year and in Qatar in 2022. The same will happen in the USA when they win the right to host the World Cup in 2026. In each of these countries FIFA show up, demand that the country build them tons of infrastructure, and then take all the profits off the events. That is a straight up mugging.

International football is also boring. It’s bad football. The World Cup used to be the place where teams like Hungary could demonstrate innovations in the game. Where Brazil and England could show off their different interpretations of the game. Where Holland could give the world Total Football. But that was back when FIFA and the World Cup actually did something. Now every team plays one of two or three systems and there’s no beauty or art left.

Few teams can afford to take chances and try different systems. The USA Men’s Nationalism team should be giving itself over to youth but they can’t because they are afraid to fail. So, the dire Michael Bradley is still captain and 34 year old Clint “can’t hold on to a ball to save his life” Dempsey is brought on at half time as some kind of saviour.

And for what? So that USA can feel proud of their flag for a few weeks? That’s ultimately what all this comes down to: flag-waving, jingoistic, nationalism. That’s why Twellman ranted, because his beloved flag wasn’t lording itself over Trinidad and Tobago’s flag.

No thanks.




Team USA meets ‘river’ at Ato Boldon Stadium

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