Own Goal

I rarely talk actual sport on this blog because I am partial to not paying attention to exactly what is happening all the time, meaning I miss out on some big calls and big events very frequently. As for being entrenched in the North American sports for the last 5 months I have also been keeping a watch on the strange beast that is association football, from here on called soccer*. The biggest news in recent days has been my pleasant shock and happiness at seeing a female linesman take charge of the Liverpool game at the weekend. My joy was that maybe, someday, soccer will be forward thinking.

For all that is said of soccer, it is the world’s sport. Apart from the strange American fixation with pig skins and plastic discs on ice and the Indian and Pakistani love of that bore fest Cricket, soccer is truly a global sport, and this causes problems. The main problem is that even though in sport we pretend that the world agrees with each other, it doesn’t. For example, Iran were banned from soccer for two years because they refused to play against Israel, a country that they don’t officially recognise. This is a prime example of something being silly but impossible to ignore.

Now we have the problem of Qatar and the 2022 World Cup. FIFA talk of soccer breaking boundaries and creating equality, but instead FIFA have endorsed poor women’s rights and most inherently problematic, homosexual persecution. All you have to do is wonder if there are any gay soccer players. The answer is of course there are, and statistically, there should be two on the field on each team at the very least. The problem with the sport is the fans, or the vast majority of the hardcore fans, the ones that make the noise, are not tolerant of anything different so due to this environment, homosexual players have to hide their feelings and true identity. Of course, there might be no homosexual soccer players, but come on, who believes that?

Would it make a difference if there were gay players? Not to me, but I am the learned minority, the youth. This will change, as it has done in the rest of society, but it won’t happen until the people in charge take it as seriously as it should be. The inclusion of a female official that, under pressure, got a call perfectly right, makes me happy but I still shook my head when I heard that two of the most prominent soccer pundits made sexist remarks about her not knowing the offside rule – this is the problem and it will take a long time for it to be bred out.

*Soccer is not only the most used term for it in English, it is actually the correct name for it. Early on in the sports life the distinction had to be made between the two types of football – Rugby and Association. Rugby football became rugby and Association football became “Association” which was shortened, by an Englishmen, to Assoc, and then Soccer. It was only in the 1970s that the term was appropriated by the British press to mean solely the American Soccer teams of the laughable league out there, and since then has been looked down upon by anyone from Britain.

Also good to read: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/soccer/detail?entry_id=81575