If you're going to create a Potemkin soccer team based on 30 year old myths, Disney-caliber fantasies and boatloads of other people's money whose main function is to generate media buzz in order to peddle logo merchandise then I suppose you have no choice but to hire a bunch of Ringling Brothers-caliber clowns as the public face of your organization.
Which is how you end up hiring Eric Cantona, a world class loon who has never had the slightest interest in coaching anything or anybody and whose most recent project was trying to organize the destruction of Western Civilization, to be your Director of Soccer.
And it's why, when you're looking for an "International Ambassador" to put on the payroll you hire Giorgio Chinaglia, a man whose travel choices are severely limited due to the international arrest warrant that was issued after his service as the front man in a Mafia plot to purchase his old club, Lazio, and use it to launder money. Currently, his legal status - I am not making this up - is listed as "believed to be hiding in the US".
And it's how you end up hiring the universally beloved Pele, after decades of faithful service as Sepp Blatter's lap dog and being described by Romario as "an old retard", as your "President".
Now in truth if you look carefully you'll see that it's an honorary title, which is fortunate given the fact that those who know him best question whether he can count to 21 without dropping his pants, but the Cosmos people have been only too happy to shamelessly parade the poor old boy around like a Shih-Tsu after a good grooming.
So when someone foolishly allows the now-71 year old Brazilian legend to speak to the media and he announces that since European teams have lots of black players that therefore there is no racism in European football, the Cosmos have no choice but to own it.
Because while, to be fair, what he's really doing is comparing playing opportunities for black players in the 1960's vs. today, and of course he's correct. But when he says:
'The European teams are full of blacks. How can there be racism?'
There's a sense of disconnect from reality that's hard to fathom except from the perspective of a man who spends his days being shuttled from lavish luncheon to gala reception to 350 count Egyptian cotton sheets in 5 star hotels.
And I'd be the last man on Earth to begrudge the guy any of it. But if the Cosmos want to claim that they're a real thing instead of the cheesy marketing concept we all suspect they are, then we need to hear whether tey stand by their man on this or not.
Of course, even figuring out who to ask right now is a daunting task all by itself.
The much-ballyhooed Cosmos Chariman and CEO Paul Kemsley, bankrupt real estate hustler to the stars, has slithered back whence he came after running out of a) chutzpah b) luck and c) other people's money, and "sold" (a precarious term in this situation) his ownership interest in this team which a) has no players b) has no stadium and c) has no league, to something called Sela Sport which we're reliably informed is located in Saudi Arabia.
The concurrent bloodletting also extended to the only credible people in the organization (no, they still list Cobi Jones; I said credible, remember?), like Joe Fraga, Rick Parry, Shep Messing and Dan Cherry.
Furthermore, after having jettisoned their youth academy in California - which, in truth, MLS was never, ever going to let them keep anyway; it would be like if the Galaxy opened a youth club in Baltimore - they're now being sued by the New York area club Blau-Weiss Gottschee, whose program they adopted to serve as their East Coast academy.
It seems that they agreed to give BWG $250,000 every six months to operate the "Cosmos Academy" but they're still owed $210k from the August installment and nobody believes the Dec 31 check is in the mail either.
So the club has gone back to the pay-for-play format and have sent the parents - who signed up their kids based on the promise of fully financed club play - some pretty hefty bills, saying in an email:
“We are sorry it has come to this and apologize for the hardship and inconvenience created.
”Despite repeated assurances to the contrary, funding for the Academy program contractually promised by the New York Cosmos to be delivered on August 1, 2011, has yet to arrive and has put the club under severe financial stress and in a position where it will not be able to meet its financial obligations. The club feels it would be irresponsible to all parties concerned if it ignored this unfortunate reality and continued business as usual.”
They didn't add that training and travel expenses will likely reach roughly $5000 per player. Sorry if you passed up another club opportunity based on the Cosmos' promises. Fortunately, USSF rules will allow you to join another club.
(Michael Lewis is the go-to guy on the GWB situation over at BigAppleSoccer.)
The incomparable Jack Bell (we're not worthy) at The Old Gray Lady says that someone named Seamus O"Brien, who owns something called World Sort Group in Beijing or Singapore or someplace may be on tap to ride to the Cosmos rescue and, reportedly, he was Don Garber's honored guest in Carson over the weekend.
Sounds really, really promising. Or not.
So the real question here isn't whether Pele is a foolish old out of touch guy who needs a nap. Those of us who manage to avoid drinking ourselves to death will likely be old and foolish someday too and we all hope that people don't hold it against us.
The question is whether it's time for the guys who foisted this fraud on the world in the hopes that enough smoke and mirrors and t-shirt sales and ridiculous billboards would hand them an MLS team somehow to pony up some cash, pay the kids what they promised them and then just go away.