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Why I pull against the U.S. in the World Cup

on 66 Comments
Ghana's Asamoa Gyan takes a call from his country's president before yesterday's match with Germany, in which he scored

Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan takes a call from his country’s president before yesterday’s match with Germany, in which he scored

I love the United States; it’s the country that took in my grandfathers and provided me with comfort and meaningful engagement. But today when the US plays Portugal in the World Cup, I imagine I’ll be pulling for Portugal, just as I found myself screaming my throat hoarse for Ghana last week against the U.S. in a lost cause. My feelings about these games are instinctual. Why do I have them and how do I justify them? Well:

–We have too much. We dominate the world’s culture and finances, our language is all over the FIFA promotion of the contest. Why should we get this too?

–It’s not even our game. Our best athletes go into other sports– which produce a lot more concussions. Let countries that put their hearts into this game savor its great rewards.

–The World Cup is the world’s stage, and the joy of the World Cup is watching third world or marginalized nations achieve dignity in the eyes of humanity. African teams are the ultimate underdogs. I pull for any African team to go through, and Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast all have a shot. And the great Iranian team has gained an international following.

–I write about the Middle East and try and fight racism against Arabs. This World Cup has seen a number of wonderful goals scored by athletes of Arab background, Karim Benzema of France, and Marouane Fellaini of Belgium, Sofiane Feghouli of Algeria. How can you not watch these athletes without reflecting that, as Chris Matthews said the other night, the U.S. kills Arabs when it goes to war, “that’s what we do.” Steve Walt estimated a few years back that we’ve killed 288,000 Muslims in the last 30 years.

I don’t like identity politics, but I find that I just can’t separate these politics from the great spectacle of the World Cup.

The two Boatengs, during the Ghana Germany match

The two Boatengs, during the Ghana Germany match

And it’s been a great World Cup, with one surprise after another, high-scoring dramatic games, late goals. Yes I know it’s a fete of nationalism, but if you’re going to celebrate the nation, let it be the little ones. How can anyone want the imperial powers to win? I want small countries that have been overlooked and squatted on and crushed to distinguish themselves. The triumphs of Nigeria and the Ivory Coast and Costa Rica and Chile have been thrilling. Ghana’s performance against Germany in the second half yesterday, and Germany’s right back at em, has been considered the best soccer of the tournament. Iran’s near-draw against Argentina was valiant and inspiring, as Hassan Rouhani noted.

And any goal by any African player is a source of pride for a continent treated as a source of minerals and slaves and anthropology by Europe and the U.S.

If this World Cup has demonstrated anything to a dedicated viewer, it’s that the world is one, that race is a superficial category that has less and less meaning, and the nation isn’t far behind. People immigrate wherever they can to do better in a globalized era. Iran’s Ashkan Dejagah and the U.S. substitute/star John Brooks are both from Berlin, I can’t keep the Boatengs straight, the Swiss team is led by Albanians, a man of Turkish descent is the hardest-working German, and Balotelli is– Balotelli.

Of course the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, and our team is a rainbow. Some day I know I’ll pull for the U.S. with pride. When it feels like there’s a more even playing field.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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66 Responses

  1. just on June 22, 2014, 11:17 am

    100% with you on this, Phil!

    I am so glad to know this… I never have felt bad about rooting for some semblance of justice by cheering on the ‘underdog’! Besides, they play with such heart!

    A great article — you write beautifully.

    • just on June 22, 2014, 11:35 am

      “Steve Walt estimated a few years back that we’ve killed 288,000 Muslims in the last 30 years.”

      I’ll wager the number is much, much, much higher than that.

      • bintbiba on June 22, 2014, 11:59 am

        Mr. Weiss… to say you write so beautifully is an understatement.
        You so often bring tears to the eyes with your insights and style… as you do today!

      • Donald on June 22, 2014, 12:47 pm

        “I’ll wager the number is much, much, much higher than that.”

        It almost certainly is. Without going the usual lefty route and taking the biggest possible death toll estimates as true, the midrange figures for both the sanctions and the Iraq War would go far higher than Walt’s number. A study that came out in 2013 gives the best estimate for the Iraq War–roughly 500,000, split between violence and non-violent causes (poorer health care, lack of sanitation, etc…) link to PLOS paper I was pleased to see Nicholas Kristof refer to this number in a column several days ago–usually when Americans talk about the cost of the Iraq War they do it entirely in terms of the cost to the US (the same happens with the Vietnam War). They almost never refer to the cost to the people that we “helped” by intervening and if they do, they usually use the lowest number, such as the Iraq Body Count figure. So it was good to see a mainstream NYT columnist do this. Kristof is better than the usual NYT type, not that I always agree with him.

        I don’t think there are reliable estimates for the sanctions–lefties tend to go for the highest possible number and apologists go for the lowest, but it’s likely to be in the hundreds of thousands as well.

        Thirty years takes us back to the Iraq-Iran war, where the US to some degree supported Iraq (while dangling the prospect of weapons deals to Iran). So we have some indirect responsibility for the gas attacks, for instance, and the sanctions on Iran interfere with medicines that would go to help survivors. (I’m too lazy to look for links, but I read about this within the last year.)

      • just on June 22, 2014, 1:07 pm

        We killed some Afghans too…..

        btw, there was a good article in The Guardian the other day about the DU the US used:

        “US forces fired depleted uranium (DU) weapons at civilian areas and troops in Iraq in breach of official advice meant to prevent unnecessary suffering in conflicts, a report has found.

        Coordinates revealing where US jets and tanks fired nearly 10,000 DU rounds in Iraq during the war in 2003 have been obtained by the Dutch peace group Pax. This is the first time that any US DU firing coordinates have been released, despite previous requests by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Iraqi government.

        According to PAX’s report, which is due to be published this week, the data shows that many of the DU rounds were fired in or near populated areas of Iraq, including As Samawah, Nasiriyah and Basrah. At least 1,500 rounds were also aimed at troops, the group says.

        US forces gave the GPS coordinates of DU rounds, along with a list of targets and the numbers fired, to the Dutch Ministry of Defence, which was concerned about areas in which its troops were stationed last year.

        The Dutch MoD then released the data to PAX in response to a request under freedom of information law. The release of the information was a “useful first step towards greater transparency”, said PAX, but the firing coordinates for most DU rounds remain unknown.

        More than 300,000 DU rounds are estimated to have been fired during the 2003 Iraq war, the vast majority by US forces. A small fraction were from UK tanks, the coordinates for which were provided to the UN Environment Programme. A further 782,414 DU rounds are believed to have been fired during the earlier conflict in 1991, mostly by US forces.

        The Democratic congressman, Jim McDermott, is now urging the US Department of Defence to publish all its DU firing coordinates. “These weapons have had terrible health ramifications for Iraqi civilians,” he said. “The least the US could do is provide the specific targeting data so the Iraqi government can begin the complex clean-up process.””

        We are responsible for those resultant cancers, birth defects, and deaths, too.

      • Don on June 22, 2014, 1:36 pm

        It seems to me it is almost impossible to calculate how much death and destruction we have inflicted…

        Ageless Iraq

    • miriam6 on June 22, 2014, 9:44 pm

      I love the United States; it’s the country that took in my grandfathers and provided me with comfort and meaningful engagement. (SOB!) But today when the US plays Portugal in the World Cup, I imagine I’ll be pulling for Portugal, just as I found myself screaming my throat hoarse for Ghana last week against the U.S. in a lost cause. My feelings about these games are instinctual. Why do I have them and how do I justify them?

      The REAL reasons why Philly Weiss does not support the American football team are THIS :

      Bouffant – haired snob Philly Weiss is simply too ungrateful and too graceless in his attitudes to ever truly appreciate the shelter and subsequent success America has afforded him and his family and too resolutely middle class in his prejudices and soul to ever understand the passionate working – class support implicit and so necessary to the game and history of football – to EVER consider lowering himself to supporting the American footie team.

      We have too much. We dominate the world’s culture and finances, our language is all over the FIFA promotion of the contest. Why should we get this too?

      This paragraph amply demonstrates Philly Weiss’s deep seated sense of self – loathing of those very American and optimistic values of success and ambition – far more than the it demonstrates any real concern or self awareness about how America is screwing the rest of the world and everyone in it through Washington’s insane aggressive, expansionist desire to dominate the planet.

      Why should we get this too?

      Don’t make me laugh!

      World Cup winning teams are always drawn from those teams with an already long established track record of World Cup wins.

      This means that those nations that have already won the World Cup several times before – such as Brazil, Italy, France and Germany – will win it again and again.

      That means that America can NEVER EVEN BEGIN TO HOPE to win the World Cup!

      So stop kidding yourself Philly Weiss and stop wallowing around in false modesty and middle class liberal self – loathing.

      • Donald on June 23, 2014, 12:03 am

        Tsk, Miriam, you’ll never be an effective propagandist if you let yourself get out of control like that. The over-the-top hatred for Phil that oozes in every paragraph and the silliness of using “Philly” as an insult is what stands out in your post, not the argument itself. What substance actually is visible in your post after one scrapes the bile off one’s computer screen was presented much more effectively by others, some normally on opposing sides, precisely because they aren’t frothing at the mouth.

      • miriam6 on June 23, 2014, 12:25 pm


        Charmless and patronising in nature though it was ( how predictable of you Donald ) your response merely demonstrates that I successfully scored a direct hit on you!
        Football is a sport which belongs to the working classes of this world. The sport’s participants, players and passionate supporters traditionally are all drawn from the ranks of the working classes.
        This is a fact that middle class liberals like yourself and Philly Weiss are painfully ignorant of.
        If American soccer indeed does conform to the social and class norms that apply to football elsewhere in the world then the American World Cup football team will contain mostly blue collar background players and supporters.
        Therefore, logically speaking, Weiss really ought to throw his whole hearted support behind the American footie team..
        But of course, being middle class, Weiss simply does not understand that that very working class football culture is not his to appropriate in the first place.
        In recent years the unedifying spectacle of middle class types declaring their interest in and ‘love’ of football has become quite the fashion. Football has been adopted and to some extent appropriated by a chattering class eager to show it’s condescending ‘sympathies’ with the ‘underdog’.
        Of course, this middle class interest has appeared at a time when the political and social power that working classes used to wield against their Capitalist enemies has all but disappeared – therefore making football ‘safe’ for the middles classes to patronize.
        However, football belongs to the working classes. Middle class attempts to steal this aspect of working class culture for their own purposes will always fail and the chattering – middle classes will simply have to move on and find some other working class cultural bandwagon to jump on and steal from.

  2. Pat on June 22, 2014, 11:35 am

    Are you familiar with the Said work called Orientalism?
    Your sentiment seems real enough, but seems to be infused with white mans burden and paternalism.

    • tree on June 22, 2014, 12:15 pm

      No, in essence, it’s rooting for the underdog. You clearly don’t understand the concept of “white man’s burden” if you think that sitting on the sidelines rooting for the underdog is an example of that type of thinking.

      • bintbiba on June 22, 2014, 12:44 pm

        tree…. well said !

      • Pat Nguyen on June 22, 2014, 4:53 pm

        I see a distinction between rooting for the underdog and rooting for the victim. The later does nobody any good

    • just on June 22, 2014, 12:52 pm

      Not sure if you understand what Edward Said meant, Pat.

    • Pat on June 22, 2014, 3:14 pm

      They are not underdogs at sport. Africans win world class marathons routinely. They are underdogs in many other areas however related to business development and other social arenas.

    • Walid on June 22, 2014, 3:15 pm

      No, Pat, that’s not paternalism and it’s not white man stuff but the result of good old fashioned “you-don’t-deserve-it” guilt usually inculcated in early childhood.

      We have too much. We dominate the world’s culture and finances, our language is all over the FIFA promotion of the contest. Why should we get this too?

      • Pat Nguyen on June 22, 2014, 3:43 pm

        At least we both agree that it is inauthentic.

  3. weareone on June 22, 2014, 12:10 pm

    Thanks, Phil. I completely agree. I was in the airport last week when the US played Ghana and it seemed the entire waiting area erupted in cheers when the US won, but I was rooting for Ghana for the very reasons that you state:

    “…but if you’re going to celebrate the nation, let it be the little ones. How can anyone want the imperial powers to win? I want small countries that have been overlooked and squatted on and crushed to distinguish themselves.”

    I don’t find your sentiments at all paternalistic, but rather embracing all humanity.

    Also, this is a bit off topic, but I thought it might still be an appropriate place to mention this beautiful documentary, if anyone is interested. I/P is prominently featured in this film about healing and forgiveness- “Beyond Right and Wrong.”

  4. Justpassingby on June 22, 2014, 12:54 pm

    Right on Phil!
    Its very fun to watch.

    Ghana, Nigeria, Iran plays very good according to their premises.

  5. Shuki on June 22, 2014, 1:34 pm

    Perhaps you should move to Ghana, Iran or ‘Palestine’?

    • a blah chick on June 22, 2014, 4:57 pm

      Shuki, honey, one should not have to move to another country to appreciate excellence or to root for the underdog.

    • seafoid on June 22, 2014, 5:38 pm

      There are some lovely villas in Kiryat Arba and the good life is there, shuki. It’s in Palestine.

    • Cliff on June 22, 2014, 6:01 pm

      Perhaps you should move to the Jersey Shore, Snooki.

  6. Sycamores on June 22, 2014, 1:45 pm

    ah no where else can nations full of nationalistic pride duke it out on a field without killing each other.

    yes the US is a super power but for all its power it’s skill and technique that’s needed on the field which is down to the team and a bit a luck always help. the US team is good and they will be up against some of the best teams out there.

    Ghana didn’t do bad at all against the US they had 60% possession of the ball according to the stats they had 21 total shots compare to the US 8. if it wasn’t for John Brooks amazing header in the 86 minute the match would have been a draw but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

    you could argue the US got lucky or Ghana were unlucky, thats up to the pundits to talk about.

    oh yeah in case we forget 2010 world cup Ghana 2, US 1

    the US team done well to get this far and shouldn’t we celebrate the US for been influenced by other cultures, making a change from the US trying to influence the world.

    watch out for that shouting and screaming it’s very contagious, hoarsed throats can last for days.

  7. Chespirito on June 22, 2014, 1:56 pm

    Not for the first time, I agree 100% with you Phil.

  8. Steve Macklevore on June 22, 2014, 2:04 pm

    Two objections, Phil:

    1) In football the United States is an underdog, whilst a developing nation like Brazil is a super-power.

    2) Many people on the left dislike their own nations. That may be well and worthy, but its a very efficient way to alienate people you’re trying to convince about important stuff.

  9. chet on June 22, 2014, 2:53 pm

    As a non-American with affection for Americans (except for Republicans and conservative crazies), I find myself rooting against all US teams and/or competitors in individual events — the aggravating chants of U.S.A., U.S.A. that has overwhelmed even the most minor sporting events, the arrogance of so many US athletes and the homerism of American broadcasters causes one’s teeth to grate and to take more satisfaction from an American defeat than from the opponents’s victory.

  10. LeaNder on June 22, 2014, 3:00 pm

    I can’t keep the Boatengs straight

    As far as I know they are both born in Berlin. Kevin-Prince is the older brother, or strictly semi-brother. They have the same father. Jérôme’s mother is German. Their father is from Ghana and returned there.

    They are very different. Jérôme is more continuous and successful than his older brother. Considered a highly reliable player. Kevin-Prince seems to be a hothead, occasionally runs riot and is not beyond really evil fouls. At least I think there was an issue. Yes here it is from the Guardian:

    In 2010 it was a foul on Chelsea’s Michael Ballack in the FA Cup final that made Boateng, then playing for Portsmouth, public enemy No1 in Germany. The national captain was consequently ruled out of South Africa 2010 with ankle-ligament damage and never played for Germany again. In 2014 it is not Boateng’s actions but his words that have spread irritation through German football.

  11. Philip Munger on June 22, 2014, 3:21 pm

    I coached youth soccer for most of a decade. Had the 2nd best win-loss record for a coach in league history. I still attend local high school matches – my kids’ alma mater’s (Colony High School in Palmer, Alaska) boys’ team was once again state champs late last month. Whenever I travel to Europe, I make a point of going to at least one match, if in season. I follow the Seattle Sounders, and my daughter attends Seattle Reign (their new women’s team) games regularly.

    Although I will be cheering on the US team, I don’t expect them to get to the top four. We have only done that once. A long time ago.

    I agree with Phil W’s sentiments, though. I’m not going to lose interest in the Cup after our inevitable demise. I’ve watched all the matches in the Group of Death (G) so far, and really enjoyed the frustrating tie yesterday between Germany and Ghana.

    I love what soccer does to participants’ bodies, as opposed to football (American-Canadian) or even baseball. The kind of cardiovascular system kids develop when they pursue the game vigorously in early youth is a benefit they carry with them for their life.

    I do wish our culture found ways to get more kids to play sports like this all through their youth and into adulthood. But around 6th to 8th grade, in schools and in community teams, we begin to separate the talented and strong from the rest, and raise them up above, into jockhood. We don’t really have an infrastructure that gives opportunities to slower, more unfit kids. Schools and colleges fund intramural activities far, far less now than they did 50 or 25 years ago. Consequently, young people lose interest in physical fitness, and remain uninterested in active engagement for the rest of their lives.

    We focused intensely on supporting our two kids in their sports and fitness, with both becoming Alaska regional champions and with our daughter becoming an NCAA gold medalist (women’s rowing WWU 2008). Now they are coaching young people and keeping fit, because they developed bodies that crave and love the feeling of intense activity. We never cared so much whether they won or lost, as we cared that they loved competition and achievement, and didn’t get hurt.

    • just on June 22, 2014, 3:30 pm

      What a wonderful comment. You, your wife and kids have much to be happy for and proud of.

    • just on June 22, 2014, 3:33 pm

      That is very funny and clever!

    • LeaNder on June 22, 2014, 4:11 pm

      This is soooo funny. I have to check which one I will wind up with. ;)

      Thanks, Philip, really great. We all need a little laughter sometimes.

    • a blah chick on June 22, 2014, 5:08 pm

      That was hillll-arious! Thank you! I just found out that I might owe the people who did my colonoscopy 5,000 dollars, so I needed a laugh.

    • Bumblebye on June 22, 2014, 6:13 pm

      It suggests that if I gave a hoot I should root for either Korea or Colombia!
      Heck, I haven’t even decided who to pull for when the Tour de ahem, Yorkshire whizzes thru town in a couple of weeks! The whole town is going to be on lockdown for that – bright yellow notices of road closures and parking suspension virtually everywhere.

  12. tokyobk on June 22, 2014, 4:26 pm

    The thing I like most about your writing, Phil, is how unpretentious it is and how honest you try to be (when its often hard to have a handle on our own feelings let alone convey them). I always look forward to these kinds of pieces, more so than your analysis.

    You are certainly right on US hubris. Think for example that we call ourselves simply”American” and expect people to understand that means US as in us, not Mexico or Canada for starts and then the rest of the Americas, no small “btw.” And of course they do.

    Believe it or not if I said in Japanese “I am a citizen of the United States,” (beikokujin) people would find that funny or awkward since the common word used is simply, again, Amerikajin. Canadians are Kanadajin. Mekishikojin are to our south. All the continent belong to us, so to say. I have never seen beikokujin in any text book, btw.

    And then the “World Series” of baseball as if the world only stretched from New York to LA. “Soccer” did get a boost in the States in my childhood in the 70’s especially with Pele and the Cosmos but as you say it really is a world sport (though spread also due to the Euro hegemony you decry).

    Etc., most of all our foreign policy which for decades was deadly to East Asians and now to Arabs.

    Like you I also have sentiment which tilts towards the supposed underdog. I went to an English pub at 4:00 am to watch Germany versus Ghana. I had seen online some humorous calculation for deciding which team to root for but could not remember the formula.

    My last West African ancestor lived in the early 1800’s and my last German in the late part of that century so that, and my travels to the European country, should say Germany I guess but I also found myself rooting for Ghana.

    But I think you are making some revealing mistakes of categorical thinking (which you say you reject) that give insight.

    I feel this line and as I said I shared the feeling watching Ghana:

    “And any goal by any African player is a source of pride for a continent treated as a source of minerals and slaves and anthropology by Europe and the U.S.”

    But, wait, you must know that Africa was for a thousand years the repository of slaves for the Middle East as well, right? You do know that? And Europe and even the US outlawed the African slave trade in the early 1800’s whereas the trade and slavery itself was still legal in parts of the Middle East until the middle of the 20th. You must also be aware of the labor conditions in Dubai, right? So why the pass? I realize that this part of the world is stereotyped more than any other right now, and you see your job as correcting this, but the answer is not inverting the image or ignoring history. The answer, in fact is studying history wherein you realize human beings are human beings. In fact it was the span and complexity of Arab civilization that allowed such sophisticated trade across the world and for most of history, slaves were an uncontroversial cargo.

    More glaringly is the omission of China here, which any person with any knowledge of Africa knows is now the most prominent exploiter or investor (depending on who you talk to) in that continent, but is omitted here I think because you want to stick to the category of white over brown, though category which does not make complete sense in history or in the present.

    In grad school I remember an “end of colonialism” party when Hong Kong was turned over to China. Now, England stole the island and had to give it back but it amazed me that my colleagues, the beneficiaries of the best of Western traditions would celebrate the giving of territory by an open, free market society to China simply on the grounds that the Chinese were not white (and therefore could not themselves be colonialists, which of course they were and are, unapologetically, and becoming more so in Africa which fails to register in the mind of the particular kind of white liberalism expressed in this essay).

    -You’ll root for Portugal? A fine country with great people but also fascist in your lifetime. My point is not to pick on Portugal but to say that your logic only makes sense as a grumble against America (in some ways deserved) not as a coherent analysis of the moral hierarchy of countries.

    Which if we were to rank countries, we are what we are, what we were for your family, because in spite of our many faults, our virtues have been many and even at times exceptional.

    When France elects an Prime Minister of Arab or Muslim descent, when Nigeria and other parts of Africa create governments with half the transparency and consistency as ours (not perfect by any means) I will take the lecture without saying, “yes but…” And yes, gay rights and women’s rights and the rights of religious minorities.

    The US lags in even those against some European countries but does it better than most of the places that a white liberal instinctively considers underdog based on a color code and some reflexive but not entirely appropriate guilt.

    PS in this game the US is the hard working under-dog with a team as diverse as the grunts in every WWII film (plus black people!) and therefore you have permission to cheer us on as we strike against the Empire of “Soccer.”

    • Walid on June 23, 2014, 1:43 am

      Tokyobk, you said Phil was inverting the image or ignoring history, but when you mentioned the Arabs in the slave trade, you left out the prominent role the Jews played in that trade. The actual trading in good part was by Jews while the Arabs handled the logistics. In your haste to point to the Arabs, you also omitted to attribute guilt to the end users of the slaves.

      • tokyobk on June 23, 2014, 9:14 am

        This is certainly true of some parts of the European trade particularly in the financing of expeditions to South America. Some Jewish merchants in Holland, for example, organized slave expeditions and even developed a kind of futures stock on slave voyages (since the outcomes were not predictable).

        It is simply not true that Jews had an undue part in the Arab trades, and by the way what do your mean Jews and Arabs as separate categories? They most certainly were not separate categories in North Africa or the “Middle East.”

        But why is this relevant to my criticism of PW’s belief that Europe deserves permanent over-dog status because of its assault on Africa when he does not apply this to the Arab world which had a slave trade from East Africa for a longer period in history and lasting longer towards the present? Likewise the Arab traders in West Africa mostly had their own overland routes with the powerful rulers of the several empires there (who made smaller, rural, nations into slaves) and really were not heavily involved in the Transatlantic routes.

        I suspect you are just playing tit-for-tat, but I was not, nor as you seem to imply, looking to shift -undue- burden onto Arabs. The Arab and Muslim civilizations remain among the most impressive in history as any one who can read a book will discover.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 23, 2014, 11:04 am

      “All the continent belong to us, so to say.”

      Nonsense. There is no continent called “America.” They are called North America and South America.

      “And then the ‘World Series’ of baseball as if the world only stretched from New York to LA.”

      No, the world extends at least as far east as Maine and as far West as the Aleutian Islands. And, of course, when the World Series began, major-league professional baseball existed solely in North America, so the winner truly was the World Champions.

      • tokyobk on June 23, 2014, 8:24 pm

        “All the continent belong to us” is from the meme “All your base are belong to us” and the “s” is intentionally left out. My point is the silliness and arrogance of reducing the America-s- to America as a synonym for the USA.

        Baseball was introduced to and played in Japan since the early 1870’s and in other countries from that time as well, Tanaka-san.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 24, 2014, 6:24 am

        Yes, and your notion that it is silly that the demonym for the people of the US is “American” is silly. It’s appropriate, given the name of the State.

        And yes, people played baseball in many places, but in 1903 only the USA, only the USA had major-league professional baseball. Professional baseball did not begin in Japan until the 1920s.

        So, again, as far as major league professional baseball, when the World Series began, the winner truly was World Champion.

    • walktallhangloose on June 24, 2014, 9:58 am

      You over-simplify the Hong Kong handover. Although HK Island was a British Crown Colony, the New Territories on the mainland were leased from China, with the lease expiring in 1997. That is the reason why Britain (not England) had to return sovereignty over Hong Kong to China in that year.

      It was not the end of colonialism. That will come when Palestine is liberated from Israeli colonialism.

  13. DaBakr on June 22, 2014, 4:56 pm

    it is so not surprising that you would root against the US in world cup…

  14. American on June 22, 2014, 6:06 pm

    “…but if you’re going to celebrate the nation, let it be the little ones. How can anyone want the imperial powers to win? I want small countries that have been overlooked and squatted on and crushed to distinguish themselves.”>>>

    I’m for that.

    • Walid on June 23, 2014, 1:51 am

      Football-wise, America is actually an underdog and more of an underdog that Ghana. I would have rooted for America.

  15. Citizen on June 22, 2014, 6:24 pm

    I appreciate Phil’s feelings and thoughts re underdog and exploitation of Africa, etc, but also, Tokyobk’s comment on categorical thinking. Too, the USA team actually has a hard row to hoe in this World Cup:

    And maybe the USA team members are pretty nice guys on a personal level? Maybe we need an opera about this? (joke)

  16. Citizen on June 22, 2014, 6:48 pm

    When Jürgen Klinsmann, a household name in German soccer, took over as U.S. coach, he went shopping for quality talent made in Germany — with a U.S. passport.
    In addition to Brooks, the team boasts Jermaine Jones, Timothy Chandler, Julian Green and Fabian Johnson — all of them U.S.-German dual nationals. Should be interesting when the US plays Germany, eh? (Brooks’s dad, from Chicago, was in the US military, stationed in Germany, where Brooks grew up. I’ve read Brooks is most closely attached to his German mother; his dad is now in Switzerland, I think. He has a map of Illinois on one arm, and a map of his hometown in Germany on the other.)

  17. Citizen on June 22, 2014, 6:52 pm

    Security management at the 41,000-seat soccer stadium in Cuiaba, Brazil is being provided by Rishon Lezion- based company RISCO Group. Israeli company. Israel behind the scenes, off the field:

    Israel hinders Palestinian World Cup travel:

  18. just on June 22, 2014, 7:40 pm

    Ok– that goal was astonishing! Goosebumpworthy.

    • just on June 22, 2014, 7:54 pm

      And Portugal’s goal is even more stunningly better!

      Wow. Football is truly a great game. What athleticism coupled with brains.

      (I like basketball and um, rugby too.)

    • DaBakr on June 22, 2014, 7:54 pm

      so was that one. port. typically deadly in pinch.

      pw is wrong about the US not ‘needing’ or deserving a win. US has been working for thirty years toiling to introduce public to what the rest of world is in tune with. of all the hand-wringing bleeding heart unsportsmanlike reasons. just admit you don’t like the US team and you don’t care who wins. if only it was Israel and Palestine playing…that pw could ‘root’ for. US has a world class team and ‘deserves’ to win as much as any other team.

  19. gamal on June 22, 2014, 7:46 pm

    well USA 2 Portugal 1 and the US have played very well and deserve that lead, you cant but laugh (UK, Spain and Portugal despitr great traditions and players have an unrivaled record of failure in international competitions, we enjoy their supporters agony, like West Ham supporters, its all about the Pain and the Glory (name of West Ham’s video history), Portugal looking like going out, US playing very intelligent and rather beautiful football. I support the exciting players and thats the US team at this time and in this game, no denying it, good last 5 minutes, USA USA, ha ha.

    oh well a defensive lapse and great cross leaves it 2-2, good game well played USA.

  20. Shingo on June 22, 2014, 8:06 pm

    I have mixed feelings about this Phil.

    I empathize with you, especially when it comes to the Olympics etc., but I think the US has made some very positive contributions to soccer, especially for women, and I think we see this reflected on local sporting grounds where it seems at least as many girls are playing the sport and boys, if not more so.

    The great thing about soccer is how democratic it is. Unlike Olympic events, success doesn’t come with simply pouring money into it. As has been pointed out, some of the more impoverished countries can stand face to face with the most wealthy and often give rise to the most outstanding players.

  21. subconscious on June 22, 2014, 8:48 pm

    Besides international sports competitions, national sports events should be viewed more critically. Chomsky, e.g., considers national sports to be a highly organized attempt to nurture chauvinism and obedience to authority in the population. This also applies to various degrees to international competitions.

    The author mentions the case of Iran’s soccer team. It’s a big nationalist cause there w/ large public support. The public’s reaction to the game vs Argentina appears to be what Rouhani indicated in the cited tweet. However, there have been differing voices. Sadegh Zibakalam, a political science prof. at Tehran University, recently made the controversial wish that Iran would not win, for 2 reasons.

    One was that, as he put it, the Iranian authorities would act similarly to those of the former Eastern Block countries, like the USSR & E. Germany, advertising athletic victories as evidence of the superiority of their system & ideology. The other was the chauvinism & racism that would follow a major win, interpreting it as an indication of the superiority of the heroic Iranian people and their glorious millennia-old civilization, and the like. Therefore, he argued, a loss would avert the ensuing government propaganda and national chauvinism that would contribute to masking the country’s many shortcomings. So, perhaps, sports victories for underdeveloped/developing countries should also be viewed more critically.

    Incidentally, Zibakalam has recently been sentenced to 1.5 years in prison on the charges of propaganda against the Islamic Republic, spreading untruths to confuse the public mind and insulting the judicial authorities. The main culprit for his prosecution is apparently the complaint by the notorious editor of a hardline paper b/c of a letter the reformist Zibakalam wrote him criticizing Iran’s nuclear program as mostly a waste of resources.

  22. Daniel Rich on June 22, 2014, 9:28 pm

    @ Philip Weiss,

    Q: …third world or marginalized nations

    R: I’ve only seen one planet. That term indicates a non-existing picking order and one that originates from a white man’s pov. Never have I heard the inhabitants of countries refer to themselves as ‘third world citizens.’

    • gamal on June 23, 2014, 12:46 am

      “non-existing picking order”

      no Danny the pecking order is very real, but despite the fact that dusty rags are not our national dress and abjection not one of our cherished cultural traditions, with all humility it has to be said that our elites, us “third worldists”, religious, business, cultural have for the most part been the most active agents of our “Marginalization”, which I didn’t realize was controversial, the argument is about causes, Marginal, clearly, is us

      Why white people should feel guilty escapes me? its like you a bit uppity, responsible for what? our sometimes shit situations? We never get any credit.

      it is worrying that western people don’t see how their societies are coming more and more to resemble ours, I am in the Caribbean, its not paradisaical ( ok i surrendered to spell checker) for most, quite the opposite,

      after a while Phil kind of grows on you, getting to express a really sweet sensibility, its the right way to go, respect.

      stunningly beautiful little girls importune ragged old men like me here, made into a nation of beggars and whores, but they are in your face about it too, i gave a one legged man 500jmd(4US), and a cripple confronted me, I brushed him off, He said ” when a man is desperate and he meet some one who could help and he says no, Suck your mother”, I was bereft of retorts, walked backed and surrendered a little from the pecking order from which I benefit sumptuously, because of his abjection.

      “Never have I heard the inhabitants of countries refer to themselves as ‘third world citizens.”

      clearly you’ve not been to Harlesden or Dalston recently, also sadly both three (anti-semiticism) and 4 (Islamic extremism) are makruh,

      but you are so right, it is one world and eventually you are going to rue, don’t we all already, letting all those hard won by Trade Unions rights your ( and my) heroic great grand parents fought for, the real great generations were those Union organizers and old ladies cooking and caring for the infirm and the young, kindness can be a civilization too, a lot of female working class culture is like that, a whole ideology of strength, health, nurturing, accepting and freeing. In the end we all depend on those women.

      I sacrifice goats in-front of a papier mache Idol (washer woman rampant, Innana/Nut rub a dub style), do you know of a better way to ensure Humanities survival and the continuous flourishing of civilization? would chickens be acceptable?

      • Citizen on June 23, 2014, 4:50 am

        @ gamal

        Sports, teams, rooting for whom? Brings up the happenstance of one’s birth, by whom, where, when, complicated by happenstance of one’s rearing, cultural propensities, etc. Much more of this world get their main protein from insects, than not… caviar was once a poor man’s daily diet, abuse of resources, and who is not wedded to whatever privilege they have (always?) known? Which team(s) would Rachel Corrie have rooted for in this world cup? Is Sheldon Adelson watching this World Cup? Do you think he feels he did not earn whatever privilege he enjoys? Israel’s not playing, so who’s he rooting for? The chant, “USA, USA!” leaves me cold, but look how all fans paint their faces, wave their flags & symbols…. growing up in small town USA, every little town had its HS colors, symbol; these days families are less rooted in the local; seems this is true around the world, yes? These days, “the wandering jew” has lots of goy company, yes? The world becomes more and more “rootless cosmopolitan”? Triple that due to FTAs and internet?

        Football. What are the hands for, balance only? Why is American football still called so? Consider the quarterback and goal kicker.

        It’s true soccer has been a boon to American girls. To boys too? “Soccer moms.”

      • Daniel Rich on June 23, 2014, 4:54 am

        @ gamal,

        I went to Tokyo the other day, but that was business, not pleasure and not comparable to the places you mention, but still, I’ve never heard anyone refer to him/herself as ‘third world person.’

        As a vegetarian [a choice I can afford] I can’t tell you what animal to sacrifice. I would offer a tomato, apple or orange and put it in the ground, so the next generation will have something to eat. Not really food for thought, but alas…

        I used ‘picking’ to amplify the fact that most of us have a choice, hence not the one based on a chicken model [pecking].

  23. Palikari on June 23, 2014, 12:05 am

    I supported Spain, but they pathetically lost.

  24. wondering jew on June 23, 2014, 8:08 am

    The 1964 winter olympics were the first international sport to draw my attention as a kid. at the junior congregation on saturday when i arrived early i asked another kid who he was rooting for. this was in canada in winnipeg and i was rooting for the US, my family came from the US, Chicago and Peoria and St. Louis and as an American in a foreign land, I was doubly conscious of my American citizenship. But this kid told me that his father was of Russian origin and was rooting for Russia and I was quite shocked by this allegiance.

    Phil Weiss’s anti American bias does not shock me nearly as much as that kid’s father’s pro Russian allegiance. I root for the St. Louis cardinals, but I can tell you their team from 1968 and also the Mets team from 1986 much better than I can tell you about today’s St. Louis Cardinals. I hope soccer grows in popularity in America, so that America’s cultural assimilation into the world proceeds a little easier and quicker, so therefore I root for the American team. That is a rationale. It’s more like when I see the stars and stripes painted on spectators’ faces, I find myself rooting for the same team as those painted people.

  25. Liz18 on June 23, 2014, 9:00 am

    Here’s more evidence that the World Cup is not the seemingly “level playing field” that people claim. Not a surprise, but sad nonetheless.

  26. mariapalestina on June 23, 2014, 11:25 am

    I thought I was the only one who just about always pulls for the other side when the U.S. is in the game.

  27. jewishgoyim on June 23, 2014, 10:02 pm

    “Rooting against the US!” What an interesting concept. You make it sound like the US is this huge soccer juggernaut.

    I always thought you were more likely to side with the weak and the afflicted! ;-)

    There is no need to root against the US soccer wise. They will meet their fate in due time. And yes, France will win this world cup because we have the best coach (if not the best President). :-)

  28. goldmarx on June 24, 2014, 7:01 am

    Given Phil’s anti-American rooting interest, maybe he should support banning the US altogether from the World Cup? That would certainly make things easier.

    How bad can the World Cup be when Israel is absent? Hooray!

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