Does USWNT Rout Over Thailand Show Gap FIFA Needs To Bridge?
The USWNT's 13-0 win over Thailand yesterday in the FIFA Women's World Cup was, "to many, a kind of sporting debacle," but if anyone is to blame, it is "probably the sport's global governing body" itself, according to Leander Schaerlaeckens of YAHOO SPORTS. It is "not U.S. Soccer's fault that it plainly invests a great deal more in its women's program than its Thai counterpart does." Being at the World Cup "only benefits Thailand if it has the resources to take lessons from humiliations" like yesterday's match and "act on them." However, the small Thai federation "won't have the means to do that," and FIFA has "no history of providing the necessary assets to developing women's programs that they badly need" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/11). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes if there is "blame to be had, it's for FIFA and the federations that won't put the money into developing programs." The USWNT is the "best team in the world, defending World Cup champions, and it it's not up to them to play down to someone else's level" (USA TODAY, 6/12). USWNT MF Megan Rapinoe said, "There are some teams here that, since the last World Cup, have only played a handful of games, or only the qualifiers. It's embarrassing for the federations, and for FIFA as well" (AFP, 6/12). In Rochester, Steve Bradley notes former USWNT player Abby Wambach was "not as kind to FIFA," calling on the organization to "do more to help developing countries like Thailand" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 6/12).
NOT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD: ESPN.com's Graham Hays wondered why is it the obligation of the U.S. team "to act in the interest of creating a picture of a falsely level playing field." Hays: "Why shouldn't FIFA or the Asian Confederation get blamed for not doing more to promote the women's game in places where it lags behind?" (ESPN.com, 6/11). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote women's soccer is "still a developmental sport around the globe, mainly because national governing bodies have refused to invest in it." Maybe the Thai team "getting crushed" will "spark some soul searching back in Thailand" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/11). FS1's Alexi Lalas said, "Anybody out there who thinks this U.S. team should have taken their foot off the gas, the U.S. team is not here to be anybody's friend. The U.S. team is here to win a World Cup. The U.S. team each and every time the whistle blows is going to score as many goals as possible. It's not their problem if they're playing against a poorer team" ("Fox Soccer Tonight," FS1, 6/11).
SIGN OF RESPECT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman notes the U.S. players and coach Jill Ellis "didn't consider pulling back because they thought to do so would disrespect their opponent." They added that goal differential "serves as a tiebreaker in deciding where teams place in the group stage" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/12). Ellis "dismissed suggestions that the manner of the victory was in any way disrespectful" toward Thailand or "embarrassing for the game" (AFP, 6/12). FS1's Heather O'Reilly said the "best way to show respect" is to keep attacking and play their own game, because other countries "need to improve" ("Fox Soccer Tonight," FS1, 6/11).Ellis said, "I sit here and I go, 'If this had been 10-nil in a men's World Cup, would we be getting the same questions?'" (L.A. TIMES, 6/12). CBS' Tony Dokoupil said if the U.S. men's team had scored 13 goals in a game, there would "be some cartwheeling, some shirt waving" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 6/12).
LEGITIMATE STRATEGY: USA TODAY's Armour writes this is "high-level competition, and the Americans have no reason to apologize for treating it as such." This was the World Cup, "not a rec league tournament" (USA TODAY, 6/12). SOCCER AMERICA's Ian Plenderleith wrote Thailand "qualified for the World Cup, so they have to be treated seriously, no matter how weak their resistance turned out to be" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 6/11). SI.com's Grant Wahl wrote the 13-goal disparity is "fine -- and actually demanded by the way FIFA sets up group tiebreakers" (SI.com, 6/11). THE ATHLETIC's Megan Linehan wrote two facts "can exist at the same time." The USWNT "couldn't ease up in this opener and had to play until the final whistle at 100%." Thailand also "simply was not up to the level of the U.S., thanks to the complete disparity in the investment into their program from their own federation" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/11).
WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH? FS1's Rob Stone said the game "got humiliating." Stone: "You know what I want them to do? Pull it back, knock it around. The throat was stepped on. Thailand was broken" ("Fox Soccer Tonight," FS1, 6/11).CBSSPORTS.com's Roger Gonzalez wrote he understands "wanting to score plenty and have a superior goal differential, but wouldn't seven or eight goals be enough?" After the seventh goal, he "would have pulled the dogs off and had the team play possession" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/11). In Boston, Frank Dell'Apa writes the "greatest rout in the Women's World Cup's 28-year history ... did not exactly help the credibility of the tournament" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/12).