ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Thursday, June 08, 2006

World Cup - USA Feelin' the Love

Now that the US team has got some skills, it seems that the rest of the world isn't too pleased. Of course, this isn't news to anyone that's followed the team over the past few years and heard the shouts of "bin Laden!" from the Mexican crowds.

I found this ESPN.com article very interesting:

U.S. national team prepared for the hate
Wayne Drehs

HAMBURG, Germany -- In the heart of this city's bustling shopping district, where locals and tourists move at a pace only New Yorkers would appreciate, flocks of uniformed Polizei stand amid metal barricades, blocking the cobblestone road in front of the Park Hyatt Hotel. Inside, a metal detector and x-ray machine greet lobby visitors. Beyond that, suit-wearing secret-service-esque officials demand passports and World Cup credentials.

Welcome to life on the road for the U.S. men's soccer team. Here, Kasey Keller, Landon Donovan and the rest of the American team ride in the only World Cup team bus without a flag on its side. Here, streets are closed and traffic rerouted as 20 police vehicles deliver the team bus to and from practice. And here, everyone from team security members to state department officials keep a wary eye on interview sessions.

Yet, this is nothing. Although preparing for the World Cup in an air-tight safety bubble has been a popular topic for international journalists, Team USA can only yawn.

Try playing with chants of "Osama bin Laden! Osama bin Laden!" raining down, the Americans say. Try getting ready for kickoff with uniformed militia guarding the field holding ready-to-fire machine guns. Try scoring a goal with rocks, batteries and bottles flying toward you. And try falling asleep the night before a match while fans drive by your team hotel, honking horns, setting off cherry bombs and blasting music.

A little extra security for the World Cup in Germany? C'mon. Try being a visiting U.S. soccer player in Central America during World Cup qualifying.

"The players [in Europe] deal with a lot of pressure, but I'm not sure they fear for their lives and well-being," midfielder Landon Donovan said. "And we certainly do."

A recent Gatorade commercial highlighted the rocky road that brought the U.S. to Germany. In one clip, fans stomped on the stadium floor so hard that the ceiling tiles shook in the U.S. locker room. In another clip a fan held a massive sheet that read, "Yankees Go Home." And in another clip, a fan held a sheet that depicted a U.S. player as the devil.

But what's really interesting about this article from ESPN on the anti-Americanism (and intolerance) from "the world" is that there's no reason for this article to be written - at least, that's what the writer tells us in the following two paragraphs:
"The way we are treated and the way the country is perceived is different," he said. "Yes, some people are critical of Americans as a whole or critical of our policies, but nobody is mad at me personally. Most people treat others as a person -- they either like the individual or they don't. Never has somebody come up to me and said, 'Oh, you're an American. I disagree with the war in Iraq. I don't like you.' I've never had that."

Which is why, combined with the tight security, the Americans have all the freedom they could want here in Germany. On Tuesday, Marcus Hahnemann enjoyed an early-morning jog around the city's Alster Lake. Donovan went for dinner at a local sushi restaurant with a few friends. And Keller, who lives just outside Dusseldorf, wouldn't hesitate to go out in public or taking his family to the zoo.

"It's probably more dangerous for my family to drive with me on the Autobahn every day than it is to be [in Hamburg] with me," Keller said. "If they can deal with that, they're fine."

So, what's the reason for this being published again? Oh, right... it's because the writer wants to smack around W. Sandwiched between these two excerpts is the following:
Individually, the majority of U.S. players are strangers to foreign fans. But when they put on the jersey with "U.S." stitched on the front, everything changes. The unknown becomes the hated. Part of that is soccer. Part of that is politics. The United States is a growing force in the sport, a move that frustrates fans of smaller countries, who love seeing the world power struggle in the world's game. On top of that, it's no secret that the White House's stance on weapons of mass destruction and on invading Iraq doesn't set well with much of the international community.

And then, just in time, here come these 20- and 30-year-old U.S. soccer players, providing a perfect avenue for opposing fans to express their frustrations.

"When you're an American, it doesn't matter," DaMarcus Beasley said. "They see that uniform, and then you're the enemy."

It will be interesting to see how the European fans treat the American team... will they be intolerant and prejudiced?

Will this be because of Bush's policies? Or the fact that the US, dominant in almost every aspect of the global economy and culture, is starting to challenge some of the historically dominant teams.

Heading into this World Cup, the US is ranked 5th... Behind them are France in 8th, England in 10th, Italy in 13th, and Germany in 19th.

I have a feeling that the fans of these countries who will be in attendance are going to be ticked if the US makes it very far, given that the audience and appeal of football soccer here in the US is almost non-existent. How humiliating would it be for them to lose to a country who doesn't really care?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler