The reality of international soccer - anti-American bias

International soccer is an artistic expression painted by referees on a canvas of grass with athletes as brushes.

Neither current public comments of frustration or the reactions of American players sufficiently explains how international referees create and render the game of international "soccer."  The referees do not specify any foul when they are called. So "offsides" or "tripping" are never named when they are called by a referee. The referees do not have to provide any clarification apart from where the kick shall proceed from as it re-enters play.

Referees can decide when the game ends. Referees can issue yellow cards and red cards on the basis of pure discretion. Linesmen do not over rule or have independent authority and can be over ruled or ignored on any flag they offer.

It is not a coincidence that the Germans were called so poorly in their recent match. Germany is the European hegemon in soccer and they will be destroyed if at all possible from the artistic perspective of the international referee.  Germany's recent bailout of Greece and its increasingly dominant financial position earns the wrath of grudge-driven referees from a global community that largely views itself as unfairly aggrieved  by such powers.

Imagine for a moment what a game involving Israelis would be like. International soccer is always essentially a statement by international referees in reference to their subjective political sentiments.  As in so many other sports, many teams would simply refuse to play-- in deference to their powerfully held anti-semitic views.  Such attitudes are far more normative to the general practice of international soccer than Americans tend to imagine.

I was a FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) certified referee. I have refereed hundreds of games and love the sport.  Nonetheless, the collision of international politics and sportsmanship is powerful and it leaves far more professional wreckage on the field of play than the American public used to 'instant replay' and the general norms of fair play would expect.

I laughed recently when I read a Los Angeles sportswriter suggesting America forfeit our games so the world won't feel so bad about our general hegemony:

"I love the World Cup. And I love America - it's my hometown! But I would not love to see America win the World Cup. 

Frankly, we don't need another feather in our already overstuffed cap. And considering soccer is the world's game - and most of the world is at odds with America at any given moment - I think it might be a nice idea for Uncle Sam, in an effort to promote world harmony, to lie down in South Africa."

--What gullible American nonsense!  Zero games are played outside the US where the referees are not actively working to undermine, embarrass, and hinder the American team.

Little was said in the Slovenian game about the ball hitting an American player in the face and the referee giving a yellow card disqualifying him from the next game!?  Apparently the referee was alarmed that the ball nearly bounced off his face and into the Slovenian goal.

Moreover, the international referees license violence against American players which is also quite visceral because of the nature of international politics and the global public euphoria at ‘beating the Americans.'  When Mexican fans recently chanted "Osama" while hosting the US team, they also treated American fans braving the scene to peltings with batteries.  Much like the Israelis, Americans are not viewed as fully moral equals to other nations in the minds of soccer's ruling authorities.

Soccer remains a valuable international tool for fostering dialogue.  Despite this, Americans would do well to understand the widely disseminated contempt toward them that makes the subjective reign of soccer referees a wildly artistic endeavor designed to communicate the proper subjective political ends.  For the majority of international referees, it is unimaginable that Americans would be worthy of equal and fair consideration on the playing field given their conduct in the global sphere.  Soccer is for these referees an opportunity to make a lifetime artistic achievement in expressing that widely held pathological sentiment.  The Slovenia game was but one more masterpiece in a massive global soccer art gallery sanctioned and built by FIFA.


Ben Voth is the chair of Communication and director of Debate at Southern Methodist University and a former FIFA-approved soccer referee.

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