Unlikely Allies Fight American Soccer’s Common FoeUnivision host Fernando Fiore smacks down White House Correspondent’s soccer ignorance
by Chris Enger | Thursday, May 24, 2012
There is no secret of the rivalry that exists between the American (USSF) and the Mexican (FMF) soccer federations. The rivalry also exists between the leagues, the players and the fans. From the “dos a cero” chants to Landon Donovan “relieving himself” on the field in Jalisco, from the Gold Cup win over Mexico by the United States in 2007 to the two subsequent US humiliations in the last two Gold Cup finals at the hands of Mexico 5-0 and 4-2.
Where the rivalry is most heated is among the fans. Each fanbase lays claim to having the better national team and the better professional league. Games between the two large fish in the pool full of minnows aren’t just for the bragging rights of the National Team but also for their respective professional leagues.
In the United States, soccer fans of both leagues fight a common foe: media ignorance.
While running down President Obama’s schedule on a MSNBC segment, NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd saw the MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy were being welcomed to the White House.
“As you can see, he … welcomes the Major League Soccer champions?” he mentions in a mocking tone and continues sarcastically, “All you LA Galaxy fans out there … does this mean Beckham shows up? I’m not sure. Is he really a member of the Galaxy or not?”
Todd then cut to break adding, “… no more soccer references.”
Gee, thanks Chuck.
Thankfully Fernando Fiore, host of Univision’s sports show Rebublica Deportiva and anchor of their World Cup coverage saw the segment and tweeted out (translated from Spanish): “I’m watching MSNBC and the commentary of Chuck Todd about the LA Galaxy visit to the White House is derogatory. Why? Ignorance.”
Fiore followed it up in English, “@chucktodd @dailyrundown if you do NOT know anything about Soccer, @LAGalaxy and David Beckham, investigate and THEN make a comment. Gracias.”
[side note: pssst Chuck, you do know your company, NBC, has the rights to broadcast Major League Soccer matches, right? I don’t know if NBC and NBC Sports passed out a memo to the “talent” on the other NBC broadcasting networks saying they bought the rights to MLS, but you may want to look into it so you can refer the few watching your show to the network broadcasting the games. #Synergy]
It was stunning to see such an ally publically go after a soccer-ignoramus like that. It was especially stunning to receive support from someone who could have easily jumped on the “American soccer sucks” train and taken a jab as rivals tend to do.
[full disclosure: Fiore does work for Univision who also owns the Spanish language rights to MLS matches in the United States.]
Rivals becoming allies? Soccer never ceases to amaze me.
What’s becoming less surprising but still wonderful is despite the soccer haters (i.e. Chuck Todd, Jim Rome), the people who spew soccer rancor for no reason other than that they can, soccer is starting to take a foothold in America.
MLS may not be that anchor just yet but you can’t deny soccer is starting to take more of a presence in the States. Look no further than last Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final. The trending topics on Twitter that afternoon were all Champions League related. Surely there wasn’t anything else on, right?
With the NBA playoffs on, the Preakness build up, and the NHL playoffs semi-finals being aired, most of the trending topics in the United States that afternoon were soccer related. Either our soccer loving immigrants have more access to Twitter and other social media networks than the rest of the country or all Americans are starting to enjoy The Beautiful Game in years where the World Cup isn’t being played.
Sadly, soccer fans still battle the old media types who view soccer like the Dursley’s treated Harry Potter. Soccer is the adopted kid forced to live below the stairs of the United States media outlets.
Check out the tweets of Michael Whitmer of the Boston Globe who moans he must have upset someone at the Boston Globe because he had to cover the New England Revolution match.
Excuse me Mr. Whitmer, you are paid to cover the sports in the New England, and by sports I mean ALL sports. Just because you aren’t a fan of soccer doesn’t mean you don’t have to respect the sport and its fans like you would for the other sports your paper covers.
These old media types simply fail to see the trending soccer revolution among the younger generation. In March, ESPN/Luker released a poll showing pro soccer in the USA to be the second favorite sport among 12-24 year olds (first favorite sport among Hispanics). Luckily, some of the key media decision makers putting soccer matches on the air are noticing.
Of all the major sports in the United States, soccer has benefited the most in the digital internet age. Access to all sports has increased but there wasn’t a time when football and basketball weren’t on television. Maybe it was a game or two, but a game or two were always on.
For a soccer fan, it was near impossible to get information on a soccer club and find any soccer matches on television.
Now, you can watch loads of soccer matches and teams from most of the the world. All it takes is a little initiative Chuck.
Football, basketball and baseball will continue to have their seasons but North American soccer fans can now follow the sport year round making soccer unique among its competitors.
To the Chuck Todds, Jim Romes and Michael Whitmers, I’m not asking you to drop every sport you watch to focus solely on soccer. I’m not even asking you to enjoy the sport. All I ask is for the mutual respect the sport deserves among the major sports here in the United States.
To Mr. Fiore, I thank you. Thank you for publically coming to the defense of MLS. In time the Chuck Todds of the media will need to update their perspective on soccer because the game is on the rise here in The States and comments like his last week now sound both petty and uneducated.