June 8, 2015
MY TWO CENTS
Two things to be proud about: USA, Cosmos
Will Smith is a long-time contributor to My Two Cents
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
By Will Smith
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
I was very moved last Tuesday by two events in the world of soccer and found myself feeling rather patriotic by day's end.
Now, those of you who know me well know that I am not a flag-waving, "my country, right or wrong" type of guy. I have significant issues with both parties and am a proud political independent. So, you must know that when I'm feeling patriotic, I'm really feeling it from the heart.
I was deeply moved by the U.S.-led ouster of Sepp Blatter and other officials from FIFA. For far too long, the governing body of the world's most popular sports has treated the organization as a piggy bank to the detriment of its member nations and the citizens of its member nations. In the modern world, where technology has made information readily available, transparency is king and FIFA'a lack of it brought about this criminal investigation by the DOJ.
Now, I'm not na´ve. I realize that the driving force behind the DOJ investigation was likely FIFA'a failure to award the 2022 World Cup to the US and the subsequent loss of profit to sponsors like Coke and Visa. We live in a capitalist country and that is the reality of it all. That said, if the by-product of our free market economy is a thorough reorganization of FIFA, then God bless Loretta Lynch.
The second item that moved me was the reaction of the crowd in Cuba yesterday when the New York Cosmos took on the Cuban National team in Havana. The Cosmos, the 1st US sports team to play in Havana in 16 years and the 1st since President Obama re-established diplomatic relations, won 4-1, but that is not the story. The real story was the warm reception the Cosmos received as representatives of not just New York or the 2nd division North American Soccer League, but of the United States. Fans cheered for both sides and waved these beautiful flags which had the US and Cuban flags super-imposed over each other. This game was not about results, but about re-establishing ties with long estranged neighbors and it was beautiful.
I realize that no country is perfect, including ours. I also realize that businesses get shady and that no game is played without cheaters. However, for a day, the business of soccer took a step in the right direction as did US foreign policy. For a few hours, the world's game helped bring its residents a little closer together and, for once, "truth, justice and the American way" really looked like the Beacon of Hope our Founding Father, imperfect as they may have been, intended it to be.
The US may not ever win the World Cup, but, for a day, we reminded everyone of what the game is really all about; sportsmanship, shared experience and brotherhood.
Please, my friends and fellow soccer fans, allow me a rare, deeply felt patriotic moment:
God Bless America.
Every now and again, our national moral compass points us back in the right direction and it reminds us of what we're capable of on our best days.
And it's a great feeling.
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