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Might I remind Ms. Solo that Briana Scurry was once considered the best goalkeeper in the game.

And, if she is now passed her prime, this is simply part of being a professional athlete.



Ugliness in the Beautiful Game

The United States Women’s Soccer Team Loses to Brazil

By Amin Sharif


I divide sports fans into two categories: those who love football (soccer) and those who don’t. The former are the majority of sport fans in the world. The later are mostly myopic American males. These are men who think that the World Cup is something to pour a bottle of beer into while at a tailgate party. They have no idea that more people watch the World Cup than the Super Bowl, baseball, and basketball play-offs, and the Stanley Cup combined. Not even the appearance of a phenomenal talent like David Beckham, perhaps the most famous athlete in the world, will bring these American men to the game.

When it comes to soccer, they just don’t get it. And, since the number of African-American males who have an appreciation for the game is minuscule, I often find myself with no one with whom to share my passion for the game. I feel like a lone addict with no one to share my high.   

Presently, the best men and women’s football teams in the world are attempting to qualify for the next World Cup. So naturally when the United States National Women’s Team was scheduled to play Brazil, it was a game that I knew I had to watch. The United States team is a juggernaut, ranked No. 1 in the world and the winner of 51 straight matches. The team includes Wamback and Lilly—threats to score at anytime and from anywhere on the pitch. Their goalkeeper, Hope Solo, has been phenomenal. She has not given up a goal in over three hundred minutes.

On the Brazil side stands the formidable Marta and Cristiane—a deadly duo whose abilities with a soccer ball is unmatched. They are to women’s soccer what Serena and Venus Williams are to tennis. Marta is a particular deadly foe and is considered by many to be the best female player in the game. Thus, the stage was set for a clash between arguably the two best teams in female football. It was the kind of game that make fans of the “beautiful game” salivate.

But all the anticipation and expectation for this monumental showdown were soon dashed when Greg Ryan decided to start Briana Scurry as goalkeeper and not Hope Solo. This seemed to be a huge blunder, as Brazil went on to defeat the United States 4-0. In NFL terms such a score would be equivalent to losing the Super Bowl by a score of 63-0. It was a humiliating defeat by any standard.

What was perhaps more disturbing than the score of the game were the comments of Hope Solo after the game. She flatly stated that if she was in goal instead of Scurry that she would have prevented many of the goals scored by Brazil. Such comments are typical of American athletes who constantly cry for the ball or to be put in the game regardless of the situation. Solo’s comments were wholly unfair to Scurry and simply don’t reflect the facts of the game. For what Solo fails to acknowledge is that even if she prevented every goal scored by Brazil’s team, the US side did not score a single goal—and you can’t win if you can’t score. Casting aspersions on one’s coach and by implication on Briana Scurry may be emotionally satisfying but shows a lack of maturity on Ms. Hope’s part. But there is a lot of that going around today—just ask Mike (Bro. can you light that joint for me?) Vick.

Might I remind Ms. Solo that Briana Scurry was once considered the best goalkeeper in the game. And, if she is now passed her prime, this is simply part of being a professional athlete. But, when Briana was on top, she was a thing of beauty. She was a part of the1999 national team that won the World Cup which put American women’s football on the map. She was an Olympic gold medalist. And, she has 54 shutouts in her career.

This is a black woman, who along with her teammates, made women’s soccer fashionable. Without her, no one but a few diehard fans would even care if Ms. Solo was in goal against Brazil. And what of the Brazil team that beat the US team, Ms. Solo talks as if it was a given that the US would even beat them—an assumption that reflects the height of arrogance when one considers the talent of the Brazilians. 

One can easily dismiss Ms. Solo’s comments as a momentary lapse in judgment of a disappointed young woman. She may wake up tomorrow or the next day and regret her statements. She may even apologize and go on to have a great career. But, there are too many self-absorbed athletes in the world today. And if Ms. Solo does not want to be counted among their numbers, she had better spend some time reflecting.

After all, you did not win a single game by yourself. There were ten other players who made the US team great. Instead of pouting over not being played, she should be consoling her teammates and preparing for the next match. If it is all about the team then she will show up and be ready to do her best to help them win their next match. But, if it is all about her, then she will continue to complain and let her teammates down when they need her the most.  

posted 28 September 2007

Think Twice Before Attending A European Soccer Match—International soccer has been plagued for years by violence among fans, including racial incidents. But FIFA, soccer’s Zurich-based world governing body, said there has been a recent surge in discriminatory behavior toward blacks by fans and other players, an escalation that has dovetailed with the signing of more players from Africa and Latin America by elite European clubs.

Players and antiracism experts said they expected offensive behavior during the tournament, including monkey-like chanting; derisive singing; the hanging of banners that reflect neofascist and racist beliefs; and perhaps the tossing of bananas or banana peels, all familiar occurrences during matches in Spain, Italy, eastern Germany and eastern Europe.Racist behavior at soccer matches is primarily displayed by men and is fueled by several factors, according to experts: alcohol; the perceived “us versus them” threat of multiculturalism in societies that were once more ethnically homogenous; the difficult economic transition of eastern European nations since the fall of the Berlin Wall; and crude attempts to unnerve opposing players during bitter, consuming rivalries.—StreetsideInvestor

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Watch “Soccer’s Lost Boys” (Vanguard Documentary)

Consider this a companion piece to Baff Akoto’s Football Fables documentary, which we’ve profiled on this blog. I’ve yet to see it, but in watching Baff talk about it in interviews, I feel like I have a good sense of what to expect from it. Currently playing the film festival circuit, it should come my way eventually. The below 45-minute piece is courtesy of Current TV’s Vanguard series, titled Soccer’s Lost Boys. It explores the more disagreeable elements of the sport’s global popularity – something that’s been termed “the new slave trade.”

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You gotta move

               Lyrics by Mississippi Fred McDowell  and Rev. Gary Davis

You got to move
You got to move
You got to move, child
You got to move
But when the Lord
Gets ready
You got to move


You may be high
You may be low
You may be rich, child
You may be po'
But when the Lord gets ready
You've got to move


You see that woman
That walk the street
You see the policeman
Out on his beat
But when the Lord gets ready
You got to move


You got to move
You got to move
You've got to move, child
You've got to
But when the Lord gets ready
You got to move.

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Bill Moyers Interviews Douglass A. Blackmon

Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008)

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Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power

By Zbigniew Brzezinski

By 1991, following the disintegration first of the Soviet bloc and then of the Soviet Union itself, the United States was left standing tall as the only global super-power. Not only the 20th but even the 21st century seemed destined to be the American centuries. But that super-optimism did not last long. During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the stock market bubble and the costly foreign unilateralism of the younger Bush presidency, as well as the financial catastrophe of 2008 jolted America—and much of the West—into a sudden recognition of its systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed. Moreover, the East was demonstrating a surprising capacity for economic growth and technological innovation. That prompted new anxiety about the future, including even about America’s status as the leading world power. This book is a response to a challenge. It argues that without an America that is economically vital, socially appealing, responsibly powerful, and capable of sustaining an intelligent foreign engagement, the geopolitical prospects for the West could become increasingly grave. The ongoing changes in the distribution of global power and mounting global strife make it all the more essential that America does not retreat into an ignorant garrison-state mentality or wallow in cultural hedonism but rather becomes more strategically deliberate and historically enlightened in its global engagement with the new East. Q&A with Zbigniew Brzezinski

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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