By Emerald O'Brien
|Creative Commons photo from Flickr user daniandgeorge|
That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching both the World Cup and Americans yelling at each other about whether or not soccer is stupid while the rest of the world ignores us.
This year’s buzz began with Ann Coulter’s article condemning the sport and all who enjoy it. And while it is an...interesting (ahem, hilarious) read, here are some other things that happened in soccer journalism in the last month.
World Cup protests
Behind the main event in Brazil, there has been some major controversy about Brazil’s social and economic issues. Pictures of art depicting a child crying at a soccer ball in his bowl instead of food have been seen around the world. Brazilians have made a lot of noise about their discontent with their government for spending billions of dollars on a tourist spectacle and neglecting Brazil’s social programs. But, like every argument, there are two sides to the story.
Forbes recently published an article explaining how Brazil has actually done significantly better in the last 10 years at fixing some of the social and economic problems that the country faces. Forbes contributor Nathaniel Parish Flannery writes, “In 2011, for the first time in history, Latin America’s middle class outnumbered the region’s poor. Brazil in particular, stands out for its success in investing in social programs and reducing poverty.” Flannery goes on to point out that Brazil only spent two billion on new stadiums (the total World Cup investment was about 11.6 billion) while in the last four years, the nation has spent more than 360 billion on social programs.
The Miami Herald also weighed in, saying that although there has already been a lot of positive change in Brazil, the World Cup protests could be a big step in democracy in the country. As long as the protests don’t disappear with the fútbol fans, it could mean a more democratic future where Brazilians can get their concerns acknowledged and respected.
World Cup 2022
ESPN’s E:60 looks toward the future of the World Cup and the controversy surrounding the selection of Qatar to host World Cup 2022. Qatar, a country of only two million, has been under fire for its exploitation of migrant workers, and there have been calls to take away its 2022 host position. The 17-minute video investigation shows some of the squalid living conditions of many workers, and explains the corrupt contract system migrant workers are a part of.. Workers head to Qatar to make more money to send home to their families, but often end up trapped in the country by their employers and make less money than they were promised.
The rules of soccer
On the lighter side of things, Huffington Post Sports writer Lewis Krell suggests a way to eliminate “flopping” in soccer, when players act more hurt than they are to win penalty kicks. This is a frequent complaint by soccer haters, and sometimes soccer lovers. Krell argues that there is a systematic problem that has led to the number of faked injuries (though he says it is actually a lot lower than you might expect) and that as the rules stand, the smartest players are the ones who do a little acting on the field – and specifically in the box. Essentially, he argues that the simple fix is to allow review on all penalties inside the goalie box – which is the type of penalty that results in a penalty kick, the one-on-one matchup between kicker and goalie. This would lead, in theory, to fewer faked injuries and more reliance on scoring goals in play rather than on penalty.
But, if you would rather just read some more Ann Coulter, you’re in luck! Coulter published another ranty article about her hatred of all things un-American – and the best part? She wrote it while on vacation in Europe.