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Happy Monday!

Two wins, a +16 goal differential, zero goals against and six points. I’d say the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) has kicked off the 2019 Women’s World Cup with the right stuff with an astronomical first two games in Group F that began with a 13-nil win against Thailand.

The USWNT defeated Chile 3-nil yesterday. Here are the highlights from that game.

(Because FOX Soccer has decided to be difficult regarding seamless video playback on websites other than YouTube, please click play and then click the link for the video to pop-up in another window. Then return to Jimmy’s Daily Planet!

The third and final game in Group F for the USWNT will be against Sweden — a team that’s also earned six points — this Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. Both teams have already advanced to the knockout round, but the third game is still of consequence because it will determine potentially favorable or unfavorable matchups for the USWNT and Sweden in the knockout round.

Have a Better Week Than Last Week. 

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La Coupe du Monde ne sera jamais trop riche en traditions

(“The World Cup Will Never Be Too Full of Tradition”)

Get excited because the 2019 Women’s World Cup kicks off today with host country France vs. South Korea at 3 p.m. The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) are certainly one of the favorites in this tournament, having won the ultimate trophy in women’s soccer three times. As a matter of fact, the women in red, white and blue are the defending champions.

The USWNT’s tournament begins Tuesday for its first group game against Thailand at 3 p.m., which is when coverage will start on Jimmy’s Daily Planet.

For now, it’s impossible for the mind not to wander to the future involving the next men’s World Cup and the soccer stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosted by Qatar. Why? Because at this year’s World Cup — hosted by France with its long, distinguished tradition — there’s a clear soccer identity for soccer fans and casual soccer/sports fans to associate with for this world-class tournament that only occurs every four years. French stadiums, ranging in 10,000 – 80,000 seat capacities, have character and history that transports fans to other times and eras of yesteryear. We’ll see this in the next month, even if only through the TV.

The same cannot be said for the next men’s World Cup in 2022 that will take place in the desert (yet crazy rich) country of Qatar.

Being built from the sand up, Qatar will be the center of the soccer universe in just a few years in November and December. The date change from the normal summer months reservation is, coupled with the sheer fact that brand new stadiums and air conditioning apparatuses are being constructed, evidence enough that Qatar can pay for anything it wants except tradition. If it wanted to host the World Cup so badly, it should have clearly established the country’s true love of soccer like every other soccer nation on Earth: Through housing world-class talent, interweaving the sport into the culture and, yes, history and time.

Like sand through the hourglass…

Soccer and tradition go together like America and apple pie. Or France and soccer.

For now, here’s a visual update on the progress being made in Qatar for the biggest stage for the world’s game.

Having visited Qatar and fully enjoyed this unique experience with family, this middle eastern country will, like the fictional John Hammond, spare no expense. And as a non-traditional country for the world’s biggest soccer tournament, Qatar and FIFA are banking on those famous words heard in that Iowa cornfield, “If you build it, he will come.” Change the “he” to “they” and that’s what will ultimately define the success of the 2022 World Cup concerning regional and global attendance.

FIFA gambled with Qatar. Moreover, this forthcoming World Cup seems like it’s being built for FIFA rather than the sport of soccer and its fans, coaches, and players. And there needs to be a real concern that all of the soccer stadiums being built for 2022, though impressive to a certain degree, will be empty in the years that follow. In other words, the post-Olympic downturn could very likely occur. In China, some of the world-class facilities from the 2008 summer Olympics fell to ruin in the subsequent years.

By contrast, the 2006 World Cup in Germany — which I was fortunate to attend with my parents and see some amazing games, stadiums, cities, hotels, players and fellow Quinnipiac soccer teammates — was incredibly unforgettable. And soccer in Germany, it seems, is even bigger now today following the World Cup due to increased global demand and interest in the Bundesliga, the German national team (2014 World Cup champions) and its rich soccer/football culture.

Will Qatar in 2022 evolve into aforementioned Germany circa 2006 or China circa 2008?

That’s a legitimate question, ladies and gentlemen. And one that should have been considered more closely by FIFA when selecting the host country for its biggest competition, specifically following disgraced former FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s resignation in recent years.

At this point, watch and enjoy the many talented teams and players in the 2019 World Cup in France. And while doing so, contemplate whether that special energy on the pitch and off the pitch with teams and fans from around the world will seamlessly translate to a non-soccer nation/Qatar in three years. Will it be the same?

While the new soccer stadiums being built in Qatar may be eye-opening through the lenses of modern design and sustainability, tradition cannot be bought.

Although, FIFA proved winning a bid to host a World Cup can, so there’s that I $uppo$e.

FIFA Bids Farewell to Tradition in 2022

Image result for Gianni Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup coming to a close this weekend–third place on Saturday and the final on Sunday–people are already starting to look to the next World Cup in Qatar.

You know, that soccer-rich culture crazy hot Middle Eastern country that surely has at least one soccer ball within its borders.

While I am not a fan of people immediately dismissing the moment for the future, there was news that broke today that was eye-opening. FIFA President Gianni Infantino (Swiss) confirmed that said World Cup in Qatar four years from now will be November 21-December 18. And in announcing the unorthodox schedule for a tournament meant to be played in June and July, Mr. Infantino added this remark.

“Leagues around the world have been informed already, and of course they will have to adapt.”

“…of course they will have to adapt” is quite the statement to make regarding a host country whose bid process was a bit shady, to say the least. The perception looked like a cash grab by FIFA and Qatar with accusations of corruption in the voting process.

Having traveled to Qatar years back, it’s a nice country and I’m glad I stayed the night, having taken in its burgeoning skyline. It’s sort of a mini Dubai–the new Dubai–to a restrained extent. But when other soccer-rich countries and cultures lost the bid for 2022, that seemed a bit odd.

And now the FIFA president has the gall to speak down to the world’s top soccer leagues–steeped in storied history and tradition, as well as world-class talent–to force them to adapt?

FIFA should have adapted to the traditional needs of the World Cup and its participating coaches and players in awarding the tournament for 2022. Particularly given the historical fallout via corruption charges waged against former FIFA President Sepp Blatter (Swiss) and Co. in 2015 and FIFA officials concerning the Qatar bid, FIFA has yet to earn back the benefit of the doubt in cases like the 2022 bid.

FYI – The road of redemption for FIFA will be long and weighed down in a myriad of heated debates. And it doesn’t help that this road for FIFA is being built to travel through Qatar in November and December.

P.S. Liquor is heavily restricted in Qatar. Well, at least soccer fans aren’t famously known for drinking an alcoholic beverage or two, in a stadium or a pub, when watching the beautiful game…

P.P.S. One unresolved issue still under review is whether the 2022 FIFA World Cup will include 48 teams. No, no and no. It may be time for a competitive marketplace of alternative governing bodies to emerge to challenge FIFA and its endless train of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ideas as conducted by the Swiss. Perhaps it’s fitting this type of news broke on Friday the 13th. 

Argentina Finally Arrived (AFA)

This is a peek into at what peak-Argentina can look like in the 2018 FIFA World Cup with its superstar Lionel Messi running on all cylinders.

(Click Play–“Watch this video on YouTube” because of FIFA TV stuff–return to Jimmy’s Daily Planet)

Lionel Messi’s Argentina pulled off a necessary 2-1 win against Nigeria today to advance out of Group D with top-finisher Croatia. While more impressive than its first two games, Argentina has a steep mountain to climb when they play tournament favorite France in the round of 16.

Will this same intensity continue for Messi and his teammates? Will France overwhelm an Argentinian squad that looks like it’s barely hanging on?

One thing’s for certain: France vs. Argentina will be a blockbuster match with stars everywhere.