August 2, 2011

Down with Sepp

     With the international debt crisis looming closer and closer over the horizon, many governments have been desperate to find new sources of revenue. There is one private international organization that is not in such dire financial straits; in fact quite the opposite. FIFA, the world’s governing body on soccer earns billions of dollars every year, although not always to the benefit of the rest of the world. In the climate of global economic duress and corporate administrators operating like selfish aristocrats, there exists a need to reign in groups that gouge their clients and utilize corrupt business practices. Their current publicity campaign titled “Fair Play” may be meant to apply to the game itself, but in the boardroom the fact is that, economically and politically, they don’t play fairly. FIFA is the world’s governing body on soccer, and thus should be a transparent organization committed to strengthening the game and its profile world-wide. Despite its humble origins, FIFA has often been beset with controversy and corruption, leading to a sense of distrust towards the group amongst the fans, coaches and players alike. The world’s most popular sport deserves administrators who are passionate about the game rather than passionate about profit. The inclusion of more advocates for the game involved in its administration, transparent business practices, the technological improvement of officiating, and fair and open elections are changes necessary to preserve the remaining credibility of not just FIFA, but of the game itself.

     Soccer has been played in many forms since as early as the eighth century and professionally started with a very humble background. The 1860’s saw the formation of the first football association and unified rules of play. The need arose for a single governing body for soccer in the early 20th century as the popularity of international match-ups grew. On May 21 1904, FIFA was formed in Paris with the aim of bringing together national associations for tournaments and competitions. While it began as a small organization, it has today become much more influential both economically and politically. The organization is run by the President who is elected by the FIFA congress, the body made up of appointed representatives from each of the 208 member countries’ respective football associations. The congress also elects the general secretary as well as the FIFA executive committee, which is made up of 8 vice-presidents and 15 members. Of all the current members of the FIFA executive council, only 4 members played soccer at any level. Together, this group is responsible for the regulation of the sport of soccer world-wide, and the implementation of rules as well as many tournaments and events.

     FIFA is most renowned for holding the World Cup, one of the most popular international sporting events in the world. The selection process for each tournament’s host nation is a vote put to the 15 member FIFA executive committee. Candidates are eliminated in successive rounds until there is only one bid left. There have been a number of claims that the selection process is unfair, corrupt, and an extension of world politics. Furthermore, there have been numerous allegations over the years that money is paid to members of the executive committee in order to obtain their vote, or that promises of votes fail to materialize. There have been suggestions from member associations that the FIFA congress should vote for the host nation rather than just the executive committee. Mali Football Federation president Hammadoun Kolado Cisse echoed this idea, saying "[w]e should give the responsibility of deciding who hosts the World Cup to the FIFA General Assembly," continuing, "If every country can vote on who hosts the event, that will cut down on corruption because you can't corrupt 208 federations." (, 18 May 2011). In 2011, FIFA broke with tradition and held the vote for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids simultaneously. It has been suggested that there were trades of votes amongst the bidders, establishing a “you vote for me, I’ll vote for you” atmosphere. The winners emerged as Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. Many complaints were filed against FIFA and the executive committee by the bidding countries, England in particular, claiming that the movement of money influenced the selection of the two hosts. Today, a number of members of the FIFA executive committee, including North America’s soccer federation head Jack Warner, have been suspended in relation to bribery accusations and the bid selection process. Despite these opening problems, there are surely more to follow for both hosts and guests in the lead up and execution of the tournament.

     The business practices of FIFA are often criticized based on their high profile and rather strange agreements they come to with host nations. FIFA is often lauded for its donations to charity, but this praise is often lost in a cacophony of financial criticism. FIFA, as the proprietor of the World Cup, uses this great sporting event as leverage for them to utilize a business model where they and their sponsors have privileged access to certain areas. The distance can vary based on the location, but generally within 2 miles of the official game stadiums only the products of the sponsors of that tournament are allowed to be served, essentially phasing out all competition. To top this rather monopolistic practice off, the host nation and FIFA reach an agreement wherein FIFA is exempt from paying taxes in that nation completely in return for letting that nation host the tournament. In this day and age when governments are struggling to turn a profit and pay their bills, the world’s most popular sport essentially makes an exclusive profit from the tournament. Minus the percentage that the sponsors and stadium owners receive, the remainder of the revenue they take in from ticket sales, food, refreshments, and licensed apparel goes back into the FIFA coffers in Zurich. In the years leading up to a tournament, FIFA also reserves the right to disobey local labor laws in order to expedite the building of stadia and surrounding venues. The price a nation pays for hosting the tournament is truly a gamble, in that it is uncertain if unaffiliated businesses, hotels, and the like can make up for this massive tax exemption based on the number of visitors the tournament will draw. While these tournaments don’t cripple a nation’s economy, they have the potential to cause serious disruption. In the case of South Africa’s 2010 tournament, 2 of the brand new stadiums specifically built for the tournament, whose sites saw protests against the conditions for the workers, are in danger of closing due to the lack of local fans that are able to afford a ticket. This blatant profiteering is reprehensible considering FIFA’s status in the world as the head of its most popular sport, as their actions suggest motives that are anything but popular in nature.

     When it comes to sports in general, one of the common controversies that arise is errors in officiating. There are examples of failures in the officiating of games in just about every World Cup, yet while similar problems seem to come up every 4 years, there is little actually done to remedy them. There is a debate going on right now about the use of technology such as instant replay and microchips implanted within the ball for detecting if it crosses the goal line. The main arguments against new technology aiding in game decisions is half based on logic and half on technophobia. The first reason for FIFA shying away from these technologies is because there are a number of nations that can’t afford it, and they go on to argue that if you can’t implement it at the lowest level, then it shouldn’t be done at the highest. The second part of the argument against technology is that it takes the game away from people and turns it into, as UEFA chief Michel Platini put it, PlayStation football. This side argues that people aren’t perfect, and the game should reflect this through its chance and unpredictability. These arguments are keeping soccer from advancing like so many other international sports have. Basketball, hockey, and American football officiating have been greatly improved with the introduction of video replay, as would soccer. There shouldn’t be a need for a sporting administrator to have to hold a press conference and apologize for a team not getting the right result based on the calls that were made, when they had the opportunity to change to rules of the game in the first place. The only talk of a referee should be about how, at times with the help of a 5th official in charge of replay analysis, they got it right. The fact that the FIFA president is more open to apologizing for results rather than actively attempting to fix problems before they occur demonstrates but one of the ways that the current head of FIFA is failing at his position.

     There are a number of criticisms of FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter, each building on the idea that this man is only making his organization look worse through his actions. Blatter has courted criticism and scandal before, mainly in the form of bribery allegations. As a spokesman for FIFA, Blatter has put his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion. In 2004 Blatter suggested that women players’ uniforms should have lower cut tops and shorter shorts to create a more feminine aesthetic, much to the insult of female players everywhere. On the topic of gay fans that might attend the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a nation where homosexual activity is illegal, Blatter said jokingly that gay fans should refrain from any homosexual activity while there. If his words and business deals weren’t making him a big enough target for criticism, his actions are the icing on the controversial cake. At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Blatter was noticeably absent at the award ceremony. The president of FIFA is supposed to hand out medals to the winning and losing team, as well as the trophy to the winning team captain at the end of the World Cup final. There is wide speculation that Blatter was upset that Italy had won over France, despite his claim that he left for fear of being whistled and jeered. The fact that he was derelict in his duties in one of the biggest sporting events of the year for personal reasons demonstrates his selfish attitude towards the game and FIFA itself. During the 2018/2022 World Cup selection vote, Blatter demonstrated his bias towards Europe, insisting that the 2018 World Cup would be held in Europe despite being there in 2006, and that any bid from outside that area would have its chances at subsequent tournament bids damaged in the eyes of the FIFA high council. The most controversial event involving Blatter was his election to a 4th term as FIFA President. After the selection of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, many associations and journalists alike accused FIFA’s voting process of being unfair and full of backroom dealings for votes. The only other candidate for the 2011 FIFA presidential election, Mohammed bin Hammam, was forced to withdraw before the election due to allegations fielded against him in connection to bribery and his successful 2022 Qatar World Cup bid. He was not the only other person, however, that sought to run against Blatter.

     In 2011, Sports Illustrated soccer journalist Grant Wahl decided that enough was enough; he would run for the FIFA presidency. With a large fan base and a strong soccer journalism background, Wahl set out to secure the nomination of one of the 208 national associations. He labeled his campaign the people’s campaign, running on the ideas of opening up FIFA’s financial records, changing the host selection process, and bringing in video replay in order to keep the game’s credibility high. Truly a fan’s advocate for the game, he only needed the nomination of one of the 208 member nations in order to be on the ballot. In the time leading up to the 61st FIFA congress, Wahl got into contact with and lobbied many national football associations trying to acquire the one nomination he needed. According to Wahl, the national associations rely on FIFA’s financial support, and that opposition or criticism can lead to politically motivated denial of this money. At the 61st congress, Wahl met with an unnamed source who was the head of a World Cup winning association. When asked why the US federation, the home association of Wahl, his response was simply "They fear the negative reaction down the road from Blatter and FIFA." (, 1 April 2011). Wahl goes on to explain that “nominating a candidate for FIFA president would be a public declaration -- subject to negative blowback from Blatter and Platini -- while the actual vote on June 1 is a secret ballot. ‘We would be more likely to vote for you in the election than to nominate you,’ he told me. ‘Nominating you is impossible.’” Essentially what kept Grant Wahl from gaining a nomination, despite support from fans around the world as well as tacit support for him from various associations, was fear – the fear of losing out on the money FIFA has. Wahl was also facing adversity due to his nationality: American. Since he wasn’t from Europe, nor was he from a soccer super-power, he was considered to be doomed as an outsider. The political games countries must play in in order to gain financial support are one of the biggest problems with the organization today. Wahl got in touch with three time South American player of the year Elías Figueroa who planned to run on a transparent business practice platform himself. Surprisingly, Figueroa was unable to get the nomination of his own association, which he was the president of. “If you're wondering how impenetrable and fear-inducing FIFA's ruling hierarchy is, imagine this: The Chilean FA refused to nominate the greatest player in its nation's history. Think about that for a second. If Figueroa couldn't do it, it shouldn't be surprising that I couldn't either.” The idea that an association won’t nominate a good candidate because of the potential backlash in the event that candidate loses is the ultimate corruption of democracy, and goes against the concept of fair play.

     Despite the good FIFA may do, there is a need for a drastic overhaul in order to correct the existing problems. To hope for all of these things to happen is rather naïve when considering the way in which the business world actually works. We must, as fans, hold on to the naiveté that the game can go back to its simpler and more humble origins. That passion for the game that lets us imagine a system without corruption is the biggest thing missing in modern soccer, and by extension modern economics as a whole. Clearly there is a problem with this organization, and considering the clout it has there must be a solution. First, we should consider that the majority of the members of the FIFA congress, executive committee, and even the President himself are not and were not ever players. While a professional athlete may only have the training to play their game, the administration of that game behind the scenes should be undertaken at least by people with a background in the sport itself. Bringing in businessmen who only see the large financial gain from this international sports conglomerate in the modern climate of financial misdealing is setting the organization up for failure and corruption. A reform of the way the game is officiated at the highest level is well past due, and FIFA’s top rule makers keeping their heads in the sand on the issue only makes things worse. Since FIFA is a world body, they owe it to their sport’s fans to be more open in terms of information about the inner workings of the organization. The use of capital and political leverage for the gain of a few is the exact opposite of fair play. Without an open playing field, fans will eventually be turned away from the game they are so passionate about.

Works cited

"BBC Sport - Mali Want World Cup Voting Change." BBC News - Home. 18 May 2011. Web. 04 July 2011. <>.

" - About FIFA." - Fédération Internationale De Football Association (FIFA). Web. 18 July 2011. <>.

Wahl, Grant. "What Happened When Grant Wahl Ran for FIFA President - Grant Wahl -" Sports Illustrated, 4 May 2011. Web. 04 July 2011.

June 25, 2011

Gold Cup Final 2nd half action

Mexico has dominated possession so far, 58:42. As the players come out for the second half, both sides will be looking to take the lead and put the other team away. It's 2-2 at the Rose Bowl.

50'. Mexico breaks, and after a threaded pass to Barrera, he has a strike and sends a bending ball past Tim Howard. Mexico lead for the first time in this game.

52'. US corner, Bocanagra connects in front of the keeper. Despite a deflection from Talavera, the ref rules it a goal kick.

54' Continued pressure from the likes of Dos Santos and Barrera forcing the US defense the look alive.

58'. Foul on Freddy Adu as he weaves his way through 2 defenders. Can the US capitalize on this free kick, Donovan and Adu standing over it... Adu takes it, over the wall, but Talavera able to catch it.

60'. Dempsey blasts a shot off the crossbar. The ball came off a tackle on Bradley, falling in front of Dempsey who hits a beautiful one-time curling shot off the frame.

63'. Juan Agudelo is warming up on the sideline. The US breaks down the center only to lose it off of a  pass just behind Jermaine Jones. Mexico counters down the right flank and force the US into a clearance. Agudelo comes in, replacing Bedoya

67'. The game is really going back and forth at this point. The US is struggling to get out of the the middle third, while Mexico is trying to find another goal to go with the pressure they're putting on the US.

70'. The game is clearly becoming more physical, with each side committing chippy fouls. Bocanegra goes down, free kick US. Donovan sends the ball in, Goodson flicks a header further into the box, with Bocanegra sending it just over the bar with his head.

75'. The US continue to give the ball away when forming an attack, being forced to play back to the keeper. Mexico use their last substitution, Barrera out for Zavala

76'. Mexico takes a 4-2 lead through a Gio Dos Santos goal. Howard attempts the collect the ball but Dos Santos teases is away from the keeper, lofting the ball just over Lichaj into the top corner.

80'. Talavera forced to punch out a cross destined for Dempsey. Bradley hits the keeper's punch on the volley and curls it just wide of the left post. The US really needed that strike if they want to come back and win this game.

 81'. Foul on Mexico, yellow card for Torres Nilo's challenge on Adu. Free kick in but the US unable to test the keeper, unable to get past the defense.

84'. Dempsey hits one high and wide. The US are desperate for a goal to jumpstart a comeback, but are having no luck on the attack, being frustrated by Mexico's defense sniffing out the obvious chances.

86'. Sacha Kljestan comes on for Freddy Adu. The US trying to inject some energy in their cause.

87'. The US breaks down the right flank and into the box,only to put the ball just wide of the post. Dempsey picks up a yellow card

90'. The game is nearly over, the US trying long lofted balls towards the danger area, but are having no luck bringing the ball down and posing a threat. Mexico is able to time and time again break down the US' form and take the ball to the corner. 3 minutes of extra time have been announced.

92'. Donovan puts a ball in across goal but Mexico's defense able to smother the ball before it ban threaten the net. Mexico surely now has sealed victory.

The final whistle has blown, and Mexico emerge as Gold Cup champions. Maintaining their unbeaten streak under coach José Manuel de la Torre, the game finishes Mexico 4-2 USA.
Goals for the US: Bradley 8', Donovan 23'
Goals for Mexico: Barrera 29', Guardado 36', Barrera 50', Dos Santos 76'

Gold Cup Final big plays of the first half

Michael Bradley nods the US men's first goal home against Mexico in Pasadena, CA

The game opens with Chicharito nearly latching onto a quick pass between the defenders. Onsides, Hernandez hit it just wide of Tim Howard's net.

8'. Michael Bradley takes on a Freddy Adu cross, knocking the ball to the far post for the game's first goal in the *' minute.

14'. Chicharito hits a shot from a cutting pass from Barrera, only to have it come off the post. Howard recovers, and the defense scrambles the ball out of the danger area.

11'. Steve Cherundolo subbed off with a sprained ankle for Jonathan Bornstein. Lichaj shifts over to right back.

24'. Freddy Adu finds Landon Donovan, Donovan passes to Dempsey, continues his run towards goal, takes a touch after a give and go and drills the left footed shot near post.

26' Despite some pressure by Mexico, Freddy Adu finds his way back into the box, takes on 2 defenders, and puts a curling shot just to the right of goal.

28'. After a quick throw in and substitution, Mexico works a long ball to Barrera past Bornstein and slots it home. Including this game, the US has kept a shutout in 4 of 6 games in this tournament. This is the first goal against for the US since the 2-1 group stage loss to Panama.

33' Donovan yellow card, first booking of the day. Catches the center back Marquez going for a lifted through ball from Bornstein.

36'. Gio Dos Santos puts a shot in aiming for the far post. Lichaj sticks out a leg but only sets it up for Guardado, who hits it before Howard can get to it. The ball rolls into the net to make the game 2-2

38'. Freddy Adu takes a couple studs to the head, on replay the stamp looked intentional, Mexican player lucky not to see yellow or red.

42'. Marquez goes down, has to be stretchered off due to a hamstring injury. While being carried off, takes off captain's arm band, has to be substituted for Hector Reynoso, the 2nd of Mexico's 3.

As the half winds down, it's all Mexico. Maintaining possession, they continue to try the long ball into the attacking third, making the US defenders work to keep the score 2-2. It's been an attacking game, it's been an entertaining game. Despite being in front of a simulated away crowd, team USA has been able to break down the Mexican defense, scoring the same number of goals against Mexico as they've conceded during the entire tournament up to this point. The Mexican attack has proved deadly, coming from behind to even up the score. Let's see what happens in the next half. It's USA - 2, Mexico - 2 after 45 minutes at the Rose Bowl.

Gold Cup Final: USA vs. México

My predictions on the 2011 Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico.

1. México will come out looking to score early against team USA. Defending early on has been the American's Achilles heal, so the probable combination of Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra will need to communicate and track back when on the backheal in order to keep Tim Howard's net safe. They can expect a lot of pressure outside of the box; a single penetrating run onto a through ball is all it will take for El Tri to get on the score sheet.

2. México will draw a penalty, while the USA will not in a similar situation.

3. Chicharito and Clint Dempsey will both score. Both players are at their best on the attack, as they have been throughout not only this tournament but the past Premiership season as well. Both players are also passionate competitors, both possessing the strong desire and will to win. Chicharito is still on his way up the projected super-star ladder, while Dempsey is at the peak of his career. Expect them each to have a huge impact in their respective teams' performances.

4. Landon Donovan will start. Left on the bench the last two games after returning from his sister's wedding on the day of the game against Jamaica, Donovan will be looking to start against the arch-rivals. His performance against Panama in the semi-finals, coming from off the bench to deliver a ball into Clint Dempsey's feet for the game winning goal, will certainly help coach Bob Bradley in his decision. Look for him on the wing in midfield.

5. The winning side will need to utilize an unsung hero to prevail. In the case of the US, this could come in the form of Freddy Adu, Jermaine Jones, Steve Cherundolo, even Eric Lichaj. Whether in the form of a cutting pass, a perfect cross, or a decisive goal, these players have stood out in this tournament amongst stars like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Tim Howard. This is the perfect opportunity for each of them to truly cement their reputation in the US line-up with a good performance.

March 8, 2011

USA v. Canada @ Ford Field!

It's official, the USA will be taking on Canada @ Ford Field in the 2011 Gold Cup. CONCACAF released the schedule for the tournament to take place this summer. The 2nd of 2 games to be played on June 7 will be played on a natural grass pitch indoors at Ford Field. Here's how each group ended up being drawn:

Group A
Costa Rica
El Salvador

Group B

Group C

Game 1 of the double header at Ford Field will be Panama v. Guadeloupe, June 7 @ 6 pm. Game 2 at 8pm will feature the US National Team against Team Canada. Tickets go on sale on March 16th. Check out Bob Bradley's reaction to the draw here.

February 17, 2011

CONCACAF Gold Cup Draw postponed

While Detroit soccer fans have been waiting rather impatiently for the draw of groups for the 2011 Gold Cup, it looks like they'll have to wait a bit longer. Detroit's Ford Field will host 2 matches from Group C on June 7th. Despite earlier announcements by CONCACAF through a Ford Field press release from December 6th 2010, it appears that the draw for the 2011 Gold Cup is now being postponed until early March.

The draw was originally scheduled for early February. This date was selected to coincide with the end of the Copa Centroamericana. From that tournament, the top 5 teams qualify for the Gold Cup and meet with the top 4 teams from the Caribbean Championship and automatic qualifiers USA, Mexico, and Canada. Will Detroit fans get to provide a home venue for the Nats? We'll have to wait until March to find out.
The complete list of teams to enter the draw is as follows:
North American Zone
USA, Mexico, Canada

Caribbean Zone
1st. Jamaica
3rd. Cuba
4th. Grenada

Central American Zone
3rd. Panama

Got the latest development on the status of the draw here


Check out the new pages section to look at older shirt and logo posts I've put together using various color schemes and themes.

January 23, 2011

January 20, 2011

A collaboration of sorts

Result of the ongoing conversation about the logo, kit, and colors for the Detroit club.
here's a slightly different version - I could customize this stuff all day and night:

January 17, 2011

Kit Ideas, feel free to vote on your favorites

click to enlarge

Here's a bunch of basic permutations of various existing Detroit sports color schemes. Vote for your favorite, or suggest a new design.
Kit based on the 2010 MLS Allstar jersey, altered using GM logo and City of Detroit PD shield