World Cup victories can boost economies and decide elections – but not in the US
Wednesday June 7, 2006
The United States always feels challenged by the World Cup. Unlike the Olympics, where Americans tend to dominate, the US has rarely shone in the tournament, although it famously defeated England in 1950. It is an 80-1 long shot this time and may struggle to overcome group stage opponents Ghana and the Czech Republic, let alone Italy. For Americans used to winning, there is something vaguely shocking about this.But US soccer-related insecurity is political and cultural, too. For four weeks, the world shows its back to the number one nation. The usual hierarchies of power are turned upside-down; the agenda is no longer Washington’s to command. It is not often that old enemies, such as Mexico, or relatively new ones, such as Iran, get the chance to “beat” the US. But either may do so in Germany if their teams progress.
While football has gained in popularity in the US in recent decades, and “soccer moms” have become a key electoral target group, the land of the Super Bowl and the World Series still finds it hard to accept the “beautiful game’s” global supremacy. World Cups usually give rise to a spate of newspaper stories reassuring American readers that their national sports still have international appeal.”
Simon, Simon, Simon. I have to tell you that you have completely misread the situation in the US. The overwhelming majority of people here don’t give a rat’s ass about soccer. It barely registers on the national scene.
It is not a matter of insecurity because frankly if it was important to enough people we could easily become a dominant force. We have the resources and the talent. It just isn’t all that interesting to most Americans.
On a side note I have to say that I wouldn’t want to see any election influenced by the results of a sporting event.