Soccer

There is No Russian Word for Sportsmanship

Maybe there is a word, but I doubt anyone in Russia understands what it means. I hate to generalize, what with all of the cheating, the doping, and the widespread corruption, but there's something wrong with Russia when it comes to presidential candidates from New York and with sports in general:

Perhaps you've heard of Russia, this small little country that's been in the news lately. The country, which hosts the World Cup in 2018, has had a small problem with its soccer fans getting into brawls before games. One lawmaker, however, has a solution: Legalizing the fighting and turn it into a sport. Igor Lebedev, a member of the Russian parliament, introduced the new "sport" in which 20 unarmed fighters on each side go at it inside an arena. “Russia would be a pioneer in a new sport,” Lebedev said. “English fans arrive, for example, and start picking fights. And they get the answer — challenge accepted. A meeting in a stadium at a set time.”

I wouldn't go around wishing for a brawl with British soccer fans. First of all, some Scotsmen might show up pissed and beat everyone up. Second, you go up against some bleary-eyed howling Arsenal fans on the wrong patch of ground and you'll waddle home on two bloody stumps. And, third, what the hell?

Legalizing unruly fan fighting? Really? Come and join the rest of humanity when you come to your senses.

Boycott the Hell Out of the Olympics

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I would applaud this:

U.S. women’s soccer team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said players could decide in July to boycott August’s Olympics if nothing has changed regarding a wage-discrimination complaint filed against U.S. Soccer two weeks ago.

“It [an Olympic boycott] would still be on the table,” Sauerbrunn said in an ESPNW interview published Sunday. “We are reserving every right to do so. We’re leaving every avenue open. If nothing has changed, we don’t feel real progress has been made, then it’s a conversation we’re going to have.”

Sauerbrunn’s comments were firmer than Alex Morgan‘s response on March 31 to Matt Lauer‘s question if players would boycott matches or strike.

“I think that’s why we’re here taking this action and filing this complaint,” Morgan said then.

The women's game is the only game in town. If you have never watched the US Women's soccer team play, that's your loss. These women represent American soccer throughout the world; three World Cup wins is what counts. The men's team is a joke, and a bad one at that.

Pay these young ladies what they are worth and be grateful that they have dedicated their lives to this sport. 

The Greatest Non-Story in Sports Ever

FIFA is dirty? Corrupt? I did not know that:

Former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner aired a televised broadcast Thursday in which he promised to expose corruption by everyone at soccer’s governing body. “I apologize for not disclosing my knowledge of these events before,” he said, adding that he is delivering documents to his lawyers. “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming. The die is cast. There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall.” The former official, who was one of 14 indicted in the U.S., also added that he “fears” for his life.

This is the end result of decades of looking the other way and imagining a world where a corrupt sports entity just gives people the sport itself without ever facing any scrutiny. There isn't anyone in the world who ever truly believed that FIFA was on the up and up. When World Cup mania paralyzed Germany a few years ago, I was in the middle of it, and everyone enjoyed the hell out of the games. They knew the fix was in but their love of the sport transcended the need to ask questions as to why it was such a corrupt sport.

It took the FBI to fix FIFA? Really? And yet, you could go back twenty years and tell this story and it still wouldn't have surprised anyone.