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Thistles and Roses

Missing the boat on soccer


The 2022 FIFA World Cup starts Nov. 20 from Qatar, with the final being played Dec. 18. Past World Cups have not been played at this time, which coincides with NFL football and NCAA college football seasons. American sports fans probably are wondering if the media coverage will conflict with our American football games. It probably will.

As sports interests have evolved, Americans don’t care much about “soccer,” called football in the rest of the world. Much of the world thinks we are out of step. To each their own, but maybe we should pay more attention. Much of the time we pay no attention, especially our local media sports departments. These local experts don’t seem to care or know much about it so we do not care or get educated about it.

When Costa Rica played the United States in the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football Gold Cup in July of 2017 at Jerry World, aka AT&T Stadium, I took a great interest in it because of my Costa Rica connections. Channel 5’s Newie Scruggs had a feature on TV about a Dallas Cowboy fishing from a pontoon boat on a Dallas area lake, but not one second about the U.S. v. Costa Rica game. 45,516 fans, including me, attended to watch the U.S. win 2-0.

Mexico has played a lot of teams at AT&T, including Argentina in May 2018. 82, 345 people attended. The local sports coverage again — nada, zilch. The news section covered it at Channel 5, but not the sports guys. It is also reflective of how many people of Mexican descent live here and a big market that is sometimes missed.

When the U.S. first received notice about the 2026 World Cup ( Yes it is coming here and matches will be played at AT&T) the preliminary coverage was by regular news, not sports. 

In their defense, they play to their audience and their market and what is familiar to them.

In 2022, 3.5 billion, with a “b,” watched the World Cup on TV. It was described as an event viewed by half the world. 1.2 billion watched the final match. That is six times as many as the 200 million who watched the 2022 Super Bowl. Much of the rest of the world does watch our Super Bowl.

I admit that before I was educated about soccer, I did not pay attention or know much. We went to a few Aledo soccer games. My son, who attended Aledo and grew up in our culture, began paying attention and educated me. We are now confirmed Liverpool fans, but also loyal Cowboy fans. I have grown to appreciate the nuances of the game of soccer and I know the names of many of the players.

One nuance which Americans might like is, once a game has started, there are no commercial breaks. As much money as there is in soccer, most of the ad money is at half time. There are dozens of ads scrolling on the screens and the electronic gimmicks on the sidelines. But they don’t interrupt the flow of the game. There is no “stepping away “for commercials when a player is injured.

Another thing that takes getting used to is that there is a running clock of 45 minutes for each half. It never stops. The referee on the field has a stop watch and when the 45 minutes is up on the clock, he adds “stoppage time” which is usually 2-8 minutes. That can be extended by the referee if there is a stop in play during stoppage time itself. The game is not over until the referee blows his whistle and says it is over, and no one knows when that will be.

So get ready. Try watching a few games, at least the U.S. games, and you might start developing an appreciation for it. We just might catch up with the rest of the world!


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