This year’s World Cup was supposed to wake America up to the joys of the “Beautiful Game”. The American view of soccer being a soft sport played by long-haired men who spend more time crying then playing was supposed to be proven wrong. Americans were supposed to magically wake up and realize their disdain of soccer was due to xenophobia and sing songs in the streets, chant ole, ole, ole non-stop, and every young kid will want to be Landon Donavan, not LeBron James.
Unfortunately, this year’s World Cup has shown Americans their view on soccer was correct. ESPN touted the slogan “One Game Changes Everything”, well every game has changed nothing for America’s view on Soccer. The beautiful dribbling and breathtaking saves of this year’s World Cup have been overshadowed by fake injuries to waste time, dives aplenty, and referees who are fast and loose with red and yellow cards.
In fact, several games in this year’s world cup have been decided by dives. In the U.S. vs. Italy game two United States players were red carded on very questionable calls that were drawn by diving Italians. Italy’s lone goal in that game was off a set piece drawn by a dive. IN the recent Netherlands vs. Portugal game, Luis Figo drew a red card on a Dutchmen by taking an incidental grazing elbow to the forehead and turning it into a serious injury. Figo fell to the ground instantly, rolled about on the ground screaming and holding his head. His antics despicable antics earned his team a man advantage and when Figo returned to the game thirty seconds later there wasn’t a mark on his face. Listing all the examples of dives and the referee’s willingness to call them has changed the outcomes of many games.
For U.S. teams to truly embrace Soccer FIFA needs to stop rewarding all the divers and the actors. They need to get tough and actually award yellow cards to divers as the rules state. To protect against fake injuries FIFA should institute a rule that requires injured players to stay off for at least ten minutes, the amount of time a truly injured player would take to recuperate. This yar’s World Cup has been a shining example of the American’s stereotype of Soccer: Divers, Cryers, and Whiners.