Clinton gets serious about soccer

June 24, 2010

SOCCER-WORLD/By Jon Herskovitz

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is serious about his soccer. He is a cheerleader for the US bid to host the World Cup; proud of the prowess on the pitch in South Africa for the red, white and blue; a fan of the noisemaking vuvuzela and a thinker who sees the beautiful game as a way to gain insight on disputes between ethnic groups and nations.

Clinton, still jubilant after attending a dramatic U.S. victory in stoppage time over Algeria a night ago, spoke to a roundtable of reporters for about an hour on Thursday. For him, the game is an intellectual pursuit and a passion. One book he cited was How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory on Globalization, by Franklin Foer. Foer offered some insight on his theories in an interview a few years ago with Mother Jones magazine.

The game has also served a window to the world outside the United States for Clinton who was introduced to the sport and the passion of soccer when he was a Rhodes Scholar in England in the late 1960s.

After the U.S. match against Algeria, Clinton shot the breeze in the locker room with the American players and offered a few words of wisdom that were perhaps more philosophical than any pep speech they have heard from a coach.

“I tell you what I said to them. I said that I think that almost all great contests, given a reasonable distribution of talent on both sides, or other resources, whether they are sporting contests or elections or battles, even if there is an imbalance, if there is anything close to parity so that is literally conceivable that either side could win, then at some point they all turn into head games.”

Clinton also offered a few words of praise for the vuvuzela – the plastic trumpet the emits an ear-piercing blast likened to swarms of bees or stampeding elephants, or elephants stampeding due to a swarm of bees.

“I can’t go home without one these. I have to get one of these.”

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