Iran – Green Amsterdam

Iran - Green Amsterdam

USA’s Josh Sargent comforts Iran’s Saeed Esadolahi during the World Cup in Qatar

© Rodolfo Buhrer/La Image/Photorena/Ciba USA/ANB

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) will play the Netherlands in the eighth final this Saturday. It eliminated Iran and a team from the United Kingdom, a country where they speak the same language but whose football fans are horrified by the word ‘soccer’. They only play ‘football’. Soccer beat the Welsh football team in Qatar.

In the book It’s fooball, not soccer (and vice versa). Scientists Stefan Szymanski and Silke-Maria Weineck come to a clear conclusion. In short, it reads that in countries where other sports with a ball are more popular than football, the latter sport has never been able to exclusively claim the name ‘football’.

Are you still there? Well, more specific. called the game Football In which players take a ball (usually oval in shape) in their hands.

In those countries, the most popular sport in the world is called football.

Does it matter? In recent weeks, you’d say there hasn’t been much, if any, talk about ‘football culture’ in public debate. Especially, countries like Qatar lack it. Footpussy is based on a football culture, specifically football nations that show it’s bullshit. Of course in America, football has a different social meaning than soccer, to put it mildly. That’s why it was nice to see America play against two soccer nations in the opening round: Wales (1-1) and England (0-0).

In those countries, soccer is king and the sport is surrounded by a luxury culture, aggressive fans and chants against women, gays and refugees. In America, soccer is primarily a women’s sport. Second, it’s a left-wing game, a game for ‘liberals’, ‘blue states’, ‘Obama people’ or ‘commy pansies’, in other words: left-wing sissies. That qualification dates back to the early 1980s, when he was a young reporter The New York Times He asked his boss if he could cover football. “Don’t waste time, boy,” said the sports leader, followed by the now-famous quote.

There is another famous quote. “I think it’s important for young people to know that in real football you kick the ball, you throw it, you run with it and you put it in someone’s hands. We must make a clear distinction: football is democratic and capitalist, while football is a European, socialist game.’ The quote is from Republican politician Jack Kemp’s impassioned plea against hosting the World Cup in his home country. Not long after, presidential candidate Robert Dole chose her as his running mate.

‘Soccer is democratic and capitalist, while soccer is a European, socialist game’

More recently, a famous American columnist described football as ‘individual insufficient’. In baseball, one man stands alone on a mound, in basketball, the star player invariably scores half the points, and in American football, everything revolves around the playmaker known as the ‘quarterback’.

The American right hates soccer so much because it was popular with the counter-movement of fifty years ago, now with children, and white hippies who settled in leafy suburbs in the 1970s. There they allowed their offspring to play European football. Why? If you ask the American right: they are anti-American, flag-burners and self-haters. If you ask them, they say: because we wanted our children to do something different, Europeans.

Especially less militaristic than football. Cruyff, the manager of the Washington Diplomats in his second US season, was delighted with the Dutch superstar as he proved that ‘a lively little man can be a superstar’.

When I wrote a book about Cruyff’s American years, the manager told me these years after the team closed. I also found out then that Cruyff bemoaned the uncompetitive attitude surrounding soccer in America, especially among parents and youth. Some youth leagues don’t even keep track of goals. It will increase the urge to stress more. ‘Frankly ridiculous,’ thought Cruyff.

Brazilian Pele loved a completely different football culture. When he said goodbye to the New York crowd after three seasons (playing for the Cosmos), he had the entire stadium chanting ‘Love’ three times in a row. Pictures from the stands during that farewell match show a variety Hair, music. They recall the term ‘commie pansies’ and transport us to a surreal present where Western European nations want their captains to wear One-Love bracelets, while their own football culture has a strong taboo against homosexuality.

In America it is different. The red and white stripes of the American football national shield are regularly painted not only in Qatar, but also in rainbow colors for protest. “As an association, we want to celebrate and promote diversity,” the president said last week The New York Times. The reigning world champion US women’s team has few openly lesbian players, and most of the men who win soccer in global gay sports are American.

Yet hostility to the word ‘soccer’ in England is not primarily about sexual orientation or left-wing sympathies. Class struggle plays a big role, scientists say in their book about the war between football and football. It has to do with the origin of the s-word. It is in Oxbridge circles. The word football originated about 150 years ago as a corruption of the word association football. It was a time when the British elite wanted to abbreviate all sorts of words to ‘er’. For example, students called the Radcliffe library in Oxford a camera ‘rader’, rugby a ‘rucker’ and breakfast a ‘breaker’ rather than ‘breakfast’.

Because of football’s elitist origins, the use of the term in British working-class circles took on an aura of class treason. Real guys play football. Confirmation followed on the other side of the ocean where soccer was a game for girls and rich kids.

Of course, soccer in the United States has traditionally been popular among residents with Latin American roots—and the United States has few. But that doesn’t change the political meaning of the game one bit. Simply put, of the 25 million Americans who watch the quarterfinals in the U.S. (and the 112 million who watch football’s annual Super Bowl final), only a tiny fraction would have voted for Donald Trump. Football? Or not: football… along with oatmeal milk and electric cars the sport is always somewhere in line. Come to the Netherlands for that.

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