my national team woes

I wrote this at the height of World Cup Fever and sat on it until now out of respect for all of the soccer fans following it. I didn’t want to shit on anyone’s party. Now that it’s long behind us. I’ll shit freely.

The problem I have with supporting any US national team is that I conflate supporting the team with supporting what my country represents, what actions it takes and how those actions affect the world. I realize this is not fair. I realize that the athletes that represent our nation don’t have anything to do with actions taken by our government, or by the ruling class. But this doesn’t matter to me when it comes down to it.

It sits so wrong with me to be watching an event where the stadium is chanting USA USA and everyone is covered in red white and blue at the same time that domestic terrorists are burning black churches in our country. When domestic terrorists are murdering black people in our country. When police officers are torturing and murdering people – primarily people of color. When we are holding women and children in tiny deportation centers and cells because they were trying to make a better life for themselves here. When the leadership of my city of Chicago is attacking public education and turning it over to private companies wherever possible. When our government continues to support, materially and morally, the apartheid government of Israel in their oppression of Palestinians, and their general bullying of their neighbors. When our government continues to use our massive military as a unilateral global police force and conducts declared and undeclared wars on anyone who stands in our way somehow. When these wars continue to destroy people’s lives. When our government continues to deny support to veterans of these military campaigns once they come home.

The list goes on and many people much more articulate than I have written about these things.

But this is the problem. I cannot in good conscience support the national team without all these things – these current events – popping up in my mind. I am inundated with these things. Every day. What happens in my country and in my name sickens me. And when I see people say things about ‘Murica and Go USA it actually causes a visceral reaction of disgust. It feels jingoistic, tone deaf and divisive. I can’t be all nation happy about any nation that oppresses people and has a long history of genocide, slavery, racism, sexism, intolerance, hatred and injustice. A nation that continues to refuse to own up to its history. Yes, that is probably the majority of the nations on earth. I have conflicted feelings about supporting most national teams for some reason or another.

I am conflicted about this, especially with the women’s national soccer team, because I want to support them as players and people. If they were the club in my city or something, I would support them. It has nothing to do with them as people or players. It has a little to do with US Soccer being US Soccer and my negative feelings towards them as an institution. But nothing to do with the players involved.

I also have intensely negative feelings about FIFA and the world cup and the Olympic Committee and the Olympics. In general they are very destructive agents. You can read all about it elsewhere. I read about the behind the scenes news about what FIFA is doing, what the sponsors involved our doing, what the nations involved are doing. I try to be aware and then I try to treat the actual games as just a spectacle, as a soap opera drama, without getting caught up in who is actually winning. I go with supporting the underdog in general and players I like. But even so, at some point I find myself having extremely negative reactions to watching the US team. I do end up viewing them as complicit representatives of what we represent as a Nation. And I do end up viewing the loud supporters, the ones who dress up, the supporters groups, American Outlaws, et al, as representatives of what we represent as well. And I feel what we represent is ugly. Is violent and destructive. It’s not something I love at all.

I love the people in my community, I love my community. I think there are a lot of good people in my neighborhood, in my city, in my country. I think there are a lot of amazing people working for positive change in this country but they are not those in power. They are not the Nation. The Nation has almost always been on the wrong side of history, only making progress when the people at the bottom demand change.

All of this is just an expression of how I feel. I’m not telling anyone how to support or not support their team. Or what to think or anything like that. I don’t think less of anyone as a person for supporting their national team at all. I make no judgments. This is a personal feeling, for me. This is just something that has been festering for a while that I needed to get off my chest.

world cup 2011

three things i loved about this year’s world cup.

1. marta scoring the second goal against the us in the quarter finals. this is a crappy video, but the goal was awesome. in general i thought this game kind of sucked. brazil played cynically, as they call it – excessively trying to draw fouls, lots of diving and acting. the us wasn’t all that convincing in this one either. their first goal was due to an error by the brazilian defense – they actually scored on themselves. their second goal was pretty phenomenal however. and to top it all off, horrendous calls by the referee. just wretched.


Continue reading “world cup 2011”

fiebre de la copa mundial

I’ve got it. You’ve got it. We’ve got it!

So. I’ll be the last person to write a bit about the 2010, which I’ve been enjoying enormously and am totally looking forward to Spain beating Holland. When dealing with the world cup it’s easy to figure out who I’ll be hoping for by knowing a few things.

1. I almost always go for the underdog. Either football-wise or if the country has been fucked over by colonial powers, or the World Bank, IMF, USA, etc.
2. This rule is superceded by teams from Latin America, unless
3. That team is either Argentina or Brasil. I’m tired of them.
4. I also revoke my support from any team that has proven themselves to be douchebags.

I did want the US team to do well, but not go too far, because any exposure that their success can bring to football in the US is fantastic.

So in the group stages here’s who I was going for:

Group A: Uruguay. Mexico. South Africa. France.
This was a tough one. Uruguay and Mexico are both here – Latin America. South Africa – total underdog. The only clear cut team to rule out is France. Because 1 they were a colonial power. And 2, they totally cheated their way to get into the World Cup. At least Thierry Henry apologized. And it was immensely fun to follow all the drama as their team imploded in acrimony. Who to go for? Mexico. Cuz I love Mexico! Although South Africa would’ve been cool too.

Group B: Argentina. Korea Republic. Greece. Nigeria.
Another tough group to choose from. Argentina are clearly out cuz of rule number 3. Greece? Totally bankrupt and anarchy in the streets, they’re a good team to go for. Korea Republic, meh. No opinion one way or the other. Nigeria. Yes! Nigeria!

Group C: United States. England. Slovenia. Algeria.
Here we go. England are out right away. Douchebags. Colonial power. Boring. Slovenia, no opinion. U.S? Again, I want them to do well, but not amazing. So Algeria it is! Vive L’Algérie! That’s a fairly easy group to figure out.

Group D: Germany. Ghana. Australia. Serbia.
Fucking hell! You better believe Australia are gone! Serbia? No opinion. Germany – strong European country? No thanks. Ghana! Hells yes!

Group E: Netherlands. Japan. Denmark. Cameroon.
Boy howdy. I feel like the further into the groups I go, the less interested I got. Denmark and Netherlands. No opinions, but since they have their shit together for the most part and they’re European, they’re out. Sorry to The Ex. Japan? They’re fun to watch, but I’m going with Cameroon!

Group F: Paraguay. Slovakia. New Zealand. Italy.
Less and less interesting for me. Paraguay is the clear winner though.

Group G: Brasil. Portugal. Cote d’Ivoire. Korea DPR (North Korea).
Here we go! Brasil yr fucking gone! Cuz yr Brasil! I’m tired of you. Portugal, way to fuck up South America! In this group it’s a tie! Cote d’Ivoire I’m going for you! But, I’m also going for North Korea, cuz their players need some love. I loved that they held Brasil to a 2-1 win. They held their own against Brasil! They kind of seemed to fall apart after that though. That was a drag.

Group H: Spain. Chile. Switzerland. Honduras.
Here’s another tough one, cuz we’ve got two from Latin America. Chile and Honduras. Switzerland, European country that has it’s shit together – I don’t dislike you, but yr gone. Spain – yr a former colonial power who severely fucked up the western hemisphere, but I’ve got a soft spot for ya, but in this case – yr also gone (even though I like watching yr team play).  So, Chile? Or Honduras? I wanted to see both go through, but if I had to choose one, I’d choose the Central Americans – Honduras!

How’d my teams do?
Group A: Uruguay and Mexico both got through. Alright! Alright!
Group B: Argentina got through! Goddamnit! As did Korea Republic.
Group C: The US got through on top and England followed close behind.
Group D: Germany and Ghana were both through.
Group E: Netherlands and Japan.
Group F: Paraguay, Yes! And Slovakia.
Group G: Brasil, goddamnit. And Portugal. Suckfest!

So at this point I was going for Uruguay and Mexico. Ghana and Paraguay. As well as anyone who would bother to beat Argentina, England and Brasil. And kind of sort of, the US.

The US went out in their first game against Ghana, fair enough. And England followed shortly after when Germany creamed them. Germany who would then cream Argentina, thanks for that Germany.

Mexico also went out in their first knockout against Argentina.

In the knockout stage Uruguay would prove to be nearly unstoppable and they had my support until their striker Luis Suárez totally intentionally and unapologetically used his hand to knock Ghana’s winning goal away, thus eliminating Ghana. Uruguay officially ended up firmly in the douchebag camp.

Brasil finally got beat by the Netherlands, success! They would go on to defeat Uruguay in a kind of thuggish game that made me glad that Uruguay was gone, but didn’t really bring me around to Holland’s camp.

This whole time I’ve been watching Spain. Spain, who are a colonial power, but who I kind of like anyways, have an awesome stylee of play. I know a lot of people don’t like it, dismissively calling it tiki-taka as well as anti-football. A lot of complicated passing and looking for openings where their don’t seem to be any. But I love watching it and find it totally awesome to behold! All of their games have been low scoring, but thoroughly entertaining. And now that they are in the final, I’m totally going for them!

This is the first year that I’ve cared enough to watch the majority of the games and I think I’m coming away from the experience a football convert. I was mildly interested in the game before, but now I think it’s on! When I occasionally catch myself wondering how much a subscription to GOLTV might cost, I think I’ve crossed a line. Not a bad line, but a line.