8 More Things I've Learned From The World Cup
Okay, so going with eight things tonight as I’ll be doing eight more tomorrow night, and I just didn’t trust myself to learn twenty things in two days.
1. Luis Suarez is a crazy bastard. One of the premier strikers in the world and he bites people on the pitch? What’s worse is his manager sees nothing wrong. Now it’s up to FIFA to do something about Suarez’s third strike. I’ll hold my breath until what they do affects this particular World Cup. *exhales* Okay, we’ll see what they do tomorrow night, but I’m putting my money on F.A. (see what I did there?). I hate to paint the whole Uruguayan team with the same (tooth)brush, but they’ve got to go. Come on, Columbia!
— Melissa Manzone (@MelissaManzone) June 25, 2014
2. Speaking of FIFA doing nothing, they have the power to sanction teams for their fans’ behavior. It’s part of their crackdown on racism, and to be fair, they did punish Russia in the 2012 European Championships. But then again, that’s the same Russia that’s hosting the World Cup in four years, and FIFA President Sepp “Leaky” Blatter has been adamant that they will not lose the games. But while the list of teams with fans with racist/white supremacist/homophobic banners and chants is long at this World Cup – Russia, Croatia, Mexico, Brazil – the list of actions FIFA is taking is short (or nonexistent).
3. And while we’re at it, black players appear to have a problem around the world with opposing fans making monkey noises and throwing bananas at them. Really, in 2014? Look our country still has a way to go – for example, we spend way too long on deciding who may marry whom – but at least we’re light years ahead of that behavior. U-S-A! U-S-A!
4. Okay, a draw in soccer is a like a draw in any other sport: kissing your sister. Except in soccer, your sister’s REALLY ugly. Ninety-plus minutes is a long time to watch men play with balls and not score… Okay that went south really fast, but you know what I mean.
5. So keeping the previous point in mind, I suggest the following rule change: for tournaments, draws are worth one point except for 0-0 draws, which count as a loss FOR BOTH TEAMS. Sure, it won’t totally eliminate all playing-for-a-draw shenanigans, but if we accept the status quo, we only have ourselves to blame.
6. As heart-breaking as that last-second tie to Portugal was, U.S. fans have nothing to complain about in front of Ivory Coast’s faithful. Les Éléphants qualified for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups in their final matches, but then failed to win any games in either tournament. They then made the 2014 World Cup and were put in arguably the easiest Group. They finally won a match by beating Japan, and were seconds away from qualifying for the Round of 16. But Greece converted a PK in the last play of their last game, sending Ivory Coast home. Now THAT’S heartbreak.
7. Homers aren’t just found in baseball games; they also work as World Cup analysts for ESPN. I like how the World Wide Leader created diversity and credibility by hiring analysts that played the game for the nations represented, but they did so without enough training. Former Dutch player Ruud van Nistelrooy refers to the Netherlands team as “we.” Former USA player Julie Foudy did a whole analysis of how the US could win games on both sides of the bracket (see photo below). When asked by ESPN about the US team, Landon Donovan replied, “Do you want me to give away secrets?” To be fair he did disagree with Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s assessment of the team, but that may have had something to do with Klinsmann cutting him. And as for Alexi Lalas… well, he’s not a homer. I just hate watching him.
8. I still think the US has little chance of going far in this tournament – I see Germany and Ghana winning tomorrow – but damn if I’m not counting the minutes until those games. If you are too, then spend your prep time memorizing this:
— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) June 26, 2014
Photo via Getty
David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated and is now a columnist for SportsGrid.com. Follow him on Twitter: @turkeysflying