Thursday, April 06, 2006

Only in the US media could some no name be used to disgrace soccer

The San Diego Union-Tribune has an article out today with the headline of "Only in soccer: Bribes sorta OK." This hit piece talks about Fanny Amun, acting secretary-general of the Nigerian Football Association, saying that refs are offered bribes in Nigerian game and he thinks they should take them. However he thinks, "Referees should only pretend to fall for the bait, but make sure the result doesn't favor those offering the bribe." Sorta a reverse bribe.

Mr. Amun is free to think what he will, but in an informal poll that I just took, all one people asked if it was okay for refs to take bribes for any reason said no. Now I can only speculate what would happen if I increased the sample size, but I would guess the "no" percentage would stay very high.

Anyway, the article also points out that Nigerian soccer league Chairman Oyuiki Obaseki reprimanded referees for poor-quality match reports, saying that bribery was to blame. So why focus attention on one person in a minor league saying that bribes are acceptable? Because it allows the continuation of the "soccer is stupid" media storyline.

To put this in perspective, if someone from the Edinburgh Diamond Devils came out and said that baseball players should be able to use all the steroids they want, would the Union-Tribune run a headline saying "Only in Baseball: Steroids OK"? No, and with good reason. Edinburgh speaks as much for top-level baseball as Mr. Amun does for soccer (although in top level baseball, one has to wonder if they have been that opposed to steroids over the last few years).

For every step forward soccer takes in this country, there will be those who, for whatever reason, will try to knock it back.


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