Fabio Capello’s impromptu announcement that David Beckham was too old to play for England has divided opinion across the blogosphere.
Reuters Soccer Blog
This weekend soccer fans in the United States will, as usual, be able to take their pick from scores of games, from all over the world, broadcast on television. The country has two soccer-only television channels – Fox Soccer Channel and Gol TV, as well as soccer providing sports networks such as ESPN and Setanta (still alive in North America) and of course Spanish language broadcasters keep the Hispanic communities well supplied with soccer from south of the border.So, from Saturday’s World Cup qualifying games, the U.S. based fan with cable or satellite could pick from Bahrain v New Zealand, Russia v Germany, Portugal v Hungary, Mexico v El Salvador, Greece v Latvia etc etc. Add in pay-per-view internet providers such as Omnisport and you can catch plenty more games from Europe and South America.There is one game you won’t be able to watch in America though — the United States’ penultimate World Cup qualifier away to Honduras on Saturday. If the U.S win they qualify for South Africa but amazingly the game is not available on television or (legally at least) on the internet.The bizarre situation has come about due to the decision of the holders of the rights to Honduras’ home games to sell the U.S rights to a provider of closed circuit television. The result is that if you want to watch the game you will have to find a bar or a club that has paid the rights fee and has the closed circuit feed. (A list of those venues is here)”We are certainly disappointed for our fans,” said U.S coach Bob Bradley, “We’re very fortunate that whenever we go anywhere there are passionate U.S. supporters wearing colors. Certainly the idea that this match is not on regular TV is disappointing for all of them, and we understand and feel badly about that.”The players at training camp this week have been careful not to speak out too strongly about the situation — rightly or wrongly the affair doesn’t look good for the U.S Soccer Federation even though they don’t have control of the rights to away games. But the players must be hugely disappointed to be battling for qualification against a talented Honduran team knowing that just a tiny fraction of their fan base is able to watch them.Some England fans have been up in arms about their team’s game in Ukraine only being available (for less than the price of two pints of flat London beer) on the internet. England have, of course, already qualified for the World Cup but can you imagine the outcry if that game was decisive and was not even viewable on the web?Of course, if soccer had a stronger standing in the U.S, the television networks would have fought for the rights to the game and outbid the closed circuit operator and the problem wouldn’t have arisen.While it is harsh to blame anyone in U.S soccer for an affair that is out of their control, the farcical situation is a reminder that for all the progress the sport has made in the country in the past decade there is still a long way to go before the game is truly mass market.But is there not a question for FIFA here? Should the sports’ global governing body not have a ruling that World Cup games at least be available on easily accessible television? The only winners in this situation are a little known closed circuit tv provider – it can’t be good for the game.In the meantime, for this reporter in Miami, a re-run of Burnley v Birmingham City is about to start on Setanta and I’ll have to find out if that Honduran social club, 30 minutes drive away, is definitely going to be showing the U.S game….
Brazil-born Juventus striker Amauri failed to get an Italian passport in time for Italy’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Bulgaria but he hopes the documentation will come through soon.Azzurri coach Marcello Lippi has indicated he will then consider Amauri for international duty but said he did not want the situation to be repeated.This seems to have ended any chance of Inter Milan midfielder Thiago Motta following Amauri’s lead. The former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid player could qualify for Italy if FIFA decided his two Brazil appearances in the CONCACAF Gold Cup did not count as full caps because it was a under-23 team.After Diego’s classy brace in his second game for Juventus, many Italians became excited when they realised the playmaker has Italian lineage. However, they forgot the basic rule that Diego had played competitively for Brazil and therefore was not eligible for Italy.Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva plays for Croatia despite being born in Brazil while the London club’s uncapped Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has often been talked about as a potential England candidate.Is the situation out of hand? I’m just old enough to remember when domestic clubs had a majority of players from the local town. Now few top sides have players from the same country.Is international football going the same way? Why not have Premier League v Serie A rather than England v Italy?Liverpool’s Alberto Aquilani and Andrea Dossena may feel a bit torn.PHOTO: Juventus forward Amauri warms up during a training session at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin March 9, 2009.REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Kev Fylan blogged about England’s fear factor being the root cause of their continual failures but Jamie Carragher’s autobiography reveals another possible explanation when he admits that he just didn’t care enough about playing for the national team.