I guess I should say something about the US National Team.
The United States of America is a large country located in the middle of the North American continent in the Western Hemisphere. Like many other countries, states and nations, they have organized a team of association football players to represent it in international competition.
The comparatively recent innovation of working class leisure time has allowed the talent pool for these teams to increase by orders of magnitude. Working class leisure time has also provided the opportunity to present these competitions as spectator events. Although these competitions are extremely physical and demanding, and are played for lucrative rewards, limits are observed. The games are not, for example, played until the death or incapacity of the opponents. Weapons are banned. Even direct physical violence towards other players is contraindicated by the regulations.
They almost always wear shoes. They almost never wear hats. Animals, even players' pets, are forbidden from the field of play. The families of the defeated players are under no legal obligation to avenge their honor. The players, for the most part, identify as cisgender. They subscribe to the economic theory known as capitalism - again, to the extent that they have expressed a preference.
Like many other national association football teams, the US Men's National Team is composed of carbon-based bipedal mammals closely related to chimpanzees and gorillas. Because of their unusually large and sophisticated brains, they have hand-eye coordination capable of building and wielding extremely sophisticated tools. They also have developed incredibly sophisticated language and communication skills, letting them express complicated and abstract concepts.
Despite the tournament's name, the games are not actually played in a giant gold cup.
Seriously, guys. It's two games into group play. The US has used exactly as much talent and effort it took to put them in first place in the group, and not one scintilla extra. We're looking at players to see if they are good enough to play for the national team more often. Just the law of averages suggests that for some of these dudes the answer's going to be "Nope."
We're also in a weak group, with the prospect of much tougher games ahead. You tell them to blow out their knees running up the score against semi-pros, because I'm not going to.
I am sorry if you paid for that performance. A laugher would have been nice, but Martinique didn't cooperate. C'est la guerre. And Martinique really wants to be a for-real soccer nation. This is them trying their damnedest. Fine, so Martinique would probably lose a shooting war against the United Auto Workers. They beat Nicaragua, nearly gave our scrubs a scrubbing, and if Panama isn't careful they'll get to the next round. They've got leadership under former US player David Regis...just imagine what they'd be capable of under Eddie Pope.
We'll probably look just as uninspiring against Nicaragua. In fact, I hope we do. It's survive and advance, and the group stage isn't exactly our Super Bowl. Keep something in the tank, guys.
So, Chuck Blazer is dead. For a long time I subscribed to the lovable rogue theory. Of course he was a crook. He literally had a parrot, like a pirate. He was an executive in international soccer. If he wasn't stealing the money, someone else was going to. And that someone else would not have helped bring the World Cup to the United States.
He certainly seemed better company than, to pick a few examples at random, Sepp Blatter or Joao Havelange. Associating with him has tainted the reputations of people who don't seem nearly as corrupt - to pick a few examples at random, Don Garber and Sunil Gulati. But he seemed like a very hard man to actually hate.
There were clues, I suppose. The depressing anecdote at the end of Ken Bensinger's Buzzfeed profile of him, where he insisted on his ten percent of the gate for a charity match.
But I had not realized that Chuck Blazer committed domestic violence. Vice published an excerpt of "American Huckster" by Mary Papenfuss and Teri Thompson last year.
"Furious, Blazer grabbed her [Mary Lynn Blanks] by her hair and arm, dragged her into the bedroom, threw her on the bed and punched her, hard, in the face, shattering her glasses and cutting her cheek. He stopped only when she was able to wriggle free of his grip."
Blazer never denied the book's allegations. Blazer's obituary today in the New York Daily News does not mention the incident, which took place in 1978. But the Daily News did get a comment from Mary Lynn Blanks about his death:
“I’m glad he’s at peace, and that he doesn’t have to go through with the trial. I grieve for him because I think he did a lot of good things for soccer worldwide,” said Blanks. “This is the man who brought soccer to America and who helped create the women’s World Cup. The fact is, he did a lot of wonderful things for American soccer. The bad side is he turned to the dark side and that’s a shame. I thought he was a better man than that."
Blazer wasn't a lovable rogue. He was just a typical villain. Unfortunately, I'm sure we'll see his likes again.