Should Foreign Coaches Be Allowed?

Like many American soccer fans, I’m very excited with Juergen Klinsmann taking over the reigns of the U.S. national team. I was never a fan of Bob Bradley and am very happy to see Klinsmann agree to the job.

But this gets to a point I’ve always been a bit iffy on in soccer: Should national team coaches be allowed to come from a different country as the one they coach?

Klinsmann is German born, played for the German national team and coached the team as well. If all U.S. players must be Americans in order to play, shouldn’t Klinsmann have to be American in order to coach? Sure, FIFA has rules that allow teams to switch national teams (Jermaine Jones has dual-citizenship for the U.S. and Germany and chose the U.S. after playing three friendlies for Germany), but those rules don’t even exist for coaching.

Klinsmann doesn’t need to have American citizenship and doesn’t need to have any connection to the United States even. U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati could hire Maradona tomorrow and under FIFA rules, that’s entirely acceptable.

Right now, England’s manager is Fabio Capello, an Italian. When he was introduced in 2010, FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticized the move, saying “I would say it is a little surprising that the motherland of football has ignored a sacrosanct law or belief that the national team manager should be from the same country as the players.”

Well Sepp, why isn’t it a rule? Why shouldn’t each soccer federation be comprised entirely of people born in that country – or at least with citizenship from that country? From players to trainers to coaches to scouts, everyone should be equal.

So while I am certainly excited about Klinsmann taking the job, it is tainted with a slight bad taste of a non-American coaching the team. Even so, that’s a rule Blatter should change and until then, I’m looking forward to Klinsmann bringing this team to its full potential.

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FIFA Lets the Corruption Continue

FIFA officially banned Mohamed bin Hammam for life today after he was found guilty of bribing CONCACAF officials. It’s not that this outcome is bad. Bin Hammam deserved to be banned for life. However, the real crime is that Bin Hammam is just the fall guy in a sport full of corruption.

Corruption in soccer is the worst kept secret in sports. Bribery is commonplace and every major FIFA figure turns a blind eye to it. And it stayed this way until Bin Hammam recently decided to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA Presidency. Bin Hammam had won Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup and had the greatest chance of beating Blatter.

Blatter has been president since 1998 and won reelection in 2002 and 2007 unopposed. While rumors of bribery existed in 2002, they were not pursued as no country or individual had any incentive to challenge Blatter, the most powerful man in the sport.

Bin Hammam entered the race this year and was determined to unseat Blatter, who has become more and more unpopular. And in order to win, bin Hammam needed to be the better candidate – aka offer more money. This is where the story gets interesting. Two corrupt candidates running against each other with incentives to rat each other out: Continue reading “FIFA Lets the Corruption Continue”

USA Shocks Spain

us celebratesThe United States Men’s National Team needed an improbable 3-0 victory over Egypt and for Brazil to beat Italy 3-0 last Sunday afternoon. It happened. This time, all the US had to do was knock off #1 ranked Spain, who had not given up a goal all tournament, had won 15 games in a row, and had a 35 game unbeaten streak. They did that as well, beating the Spaniards 2-0 and advancing to the finals of the Confederations Cup.

In no way did the US outplay Spain. Spain had almost three times as many shots as the US (11-4) and had exactly three times as many corner kicks (9-3), but the US played the exact style necessary to win. Spain would have had 20 shots on goal, but the backline of Jay Demerit, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, and Jonathan Spector blocked chance after chance to prevent Spain from scoring. Every cross into the box the US had marked perfectly. Spain never had an open header or wide open shot. Everything was covered. The midfield came back extremely well, with the US always seeming to have 7 or 8 guys behind the ball. Continue reading “USA Shocks Spain”