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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Winning the World Cup was the Worst Thing to Happen to the English. It Won't Be So Bad for Americans.

I hope you're enjoying the game. In celebration of American football fever, and anticipating the Fourth of July, I though I might share a few thoughts on the World Cup.

Jurgen Klinsmann was right. Team America will not win the world cup. Worse, the American Soccer Outlaws new chant, "I believe that we will win," is worse than self-delusion. It fails to understand the spirit of the World Cup. Only 8 teams have won the world cup, and 12 of the 19 tournaments have been won by 3 nations: Brazil, Italy, and Germany. For everyone else, the challenge is not to win, but to do better than they did last time they qualified, or to do better than, on paper, they should. By that standard, the US team has already "won."

It is a slow climb to soccer nirvana, plagued by precipitous falls (Spain). The World Cup spits in the eye of progressives. Few teams make it to the Cup; fewer past the first round (Scotland, one of the two founding nations of international football, never has, despite fielding some world class teams). To demand to win, to expect to win: only three nations have a history at the cup that entitles them to that sort of bravado, and one of them is ignominiously out.

The curse of the English is that, having won a World Cup, they now expect to win every time they enter, and are disappointed every time they fail (to be fair: were it not for Russian intervention, they wouldn't have won in 1966). Every four years, the English subject themselves to the torture and recriminations either for not qualifying (1974, 1978, 1994), or for exiting almost uniformly in the quarter finals. A mediocre fanbase, living out its end of empire fantasies on the world stage, unable to move on. They are the Alexandra Forrests of the soccer world.  America, don't let this happen to you!  Embrace the World Cup spirit, celebrate the journey, in the knowledge that there really are moral victories despite your team losing (Mexico; Ivory Coast).

Posted by Eric Miller on July 1, 2014 at 04:41 PM | Permalink

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