Posted on: December 15, 2010 1:57 pm

Sepp Blatter Shut Up or Step Down

This is an ultimatum for FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Do the world a favor. Don’t talk to the media anymore. You’re digging a grave for not only yourself but for FIFA. If you don’t want to do that then step down and run your mouth on your own time. Better yet, retire and disappear off the face of the earth. Pretty sure no one will miss you.

Just a quick Google News search of “Sepp Blatter” reveals the following stories:

CBSSports - Gay Rights Groups Slam Blattter
The Guardian - Blatter attacks "sore loser" and "arrogant" English
ESPN - Blatter Defends Russia/Qatar
Goal.com - Combining 2018-22 Bids Mistake

And these are just the news stories from the past month, not the numerous blogs, columns etc. around the world slamming the decision or reports from other countries of collusion and lies that occured through the bid process. But here's two of those for fun.

HeraldSun - FIFA Lies to Austrailia
CBSSports - FIFA Exec Upset at public WC Voting

All this after the catastrophe that was the World Cup selection process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, won by Russia and Qatar respectfully. For the record, I don't have a problem with Russia winning and I fully expect the 2014 Sochi Olympics to be excellent and the World Cup should be going to Europe as often as possible. But is there any logical reason for the World Cup to be going to Qatar?

The short answer, no there isn't.

Quite frankly I don't believe that Sepp Blatter thinks that the USA is a viable soccer market, despite ESPN shoving the 2010 WC, MLS and the EPL down our throats for the better part of two years now. And despite the fact that the 1994 World Cup hosted by the USA was financially the most successful tournament of all time. But Sepp Blatter wants MLS to move to a similar timetable as European leagues, something MLS said they would look into during the bidding process. Here's how that went.

I am now MLS Commish Don Garber. I run America's top soccer league. I have been expanding successfully to new markets in the USA and Canada. My league has been improving in the world stage despite most of the US international team playing overseas. And now FIFA wants me to play in the middle of winter, meaning a minimum 6-week break from Christmas to Valentie's Day and going up against the following sports: NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NHL, NCAA Basketball instead of MLB and NASCAR. Mr. Garber's response should be along the lines of this, "Mr. Blatter, this recommendation is not in the best interest of the success of MLS and soccer in the USA."

Mr. Blatter doesn't realize this. Nor does he realize the oppurtunity that he wasted by not having the USA host the 2022 World Cup. You see, the current group of USA players like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempset and Tim Howard might be playing in their last World Cup in Brazil 2014. This means that the USA will likely have a completely new team by 2022 and little reason for today's athletes to play soccer over multi-million dollar contracts in the NFL, MLB or NBA. But perhaps a small dream of playing in a World Cup on home soil in 2022 could help spur a new generation of talented players to come through the college or academy systems of the USA national team.

Instead, Sepp Blatter will expect major American media outlets (ESPN) and major corporate sponsors to continue to invest into soccer and the World Cup. But with less than 1 million viewers for the 2010 MLS Cup Final between Colorado and Dallas FC, MLS is struggling on the TV market while the World Cup and EPL have seen dramatic improvement in their ratings.

Sepp Blatter doesn't realize that he needs MLS and its American and international stars more than they need him. MLS would be the perfect league to test out goal line technology that Blatter and FIFA are hesitent to install. MLS players are consistently tartget for loans and transfers and since MLS is a single-entity leauge, MLS technically owns rights to players and has revenue sharing, that means MLS has to sell its best players to make revenue and will rarely get the world's best players in their primes like the old NASL and settles for Thierry Henry well past his prime but still competitive in a lesser league.

Sepp Blatter had a chance to captivate the American audience for the next twelve years. He had a chance to captivate a whole new generation of soccer fans in an emerging market. Instead, he's probably killed any chance for soccer and MLS to gain a major foothold in the USA. The diehards will always be there, but the casual fan will only likely tune in every four years until the USA is knocked out. And that's a shame.

Because it only took one man to ruin the bueatiful game. Only one man's words and one organizations actions that single-handedly turned off soccer to those who actually followed the USA's Cup Bid after their team was eliminated in the knockout stages of South Africa. One man who's ideas to change a league were foiled by his own actions.

If he can't understand soccer in America, why should we trust him to run soccer internationally?

Category: Soccer
Posted on: June 22, 2010 6:27 am

Open Letter To Sepp Blatter, Pres. of FIFA

Dear Sepp Blatter,

I have quite frankly had it with this World Cup. I have had it with you and your assistants that run FIFA. I have had it with trying to watch these soccer matches for the past two weeks.

I can put aside the constant droning of the vuvuzelas. I can put aside the stampede before a Nigeria-North Korea friendly that you say you had nothing to do with. I can put aside the fact that half of the stadiums can be practiced on because FIFA wants to keep the fields in game shape. I can put aside the fact that no one liked Adidas’ new soccer ball.

But I can’t put up with your referees. I’m done.

The world has asked you for video replay. You’ve shot them down. The world has asked for extra officials behind the penalty area, and you’ve experimented and shot that down too. Now your World Cup has turned into a catastrophe because your officials don’t know what they’re doing. There have been a total of ten red cards so far in this tournament. Half of which are highly suspect in my opinion as a USSF referee. Germany’s Miroslav Klose was sent off in the first half against Ghana for a two tackles that weren’t all that bad in my opinion. Brazil’s Kaka received a dubious second yellow card after a nice bit of acting from an Ivory Coast player. But you won’t over turn that I bet since your appeals process is a joke too. Switzerland’s Valon Behrami was given a straight red for an elbow that wasn’t today vs. Chile, again, thanks in part to another Oscar winning acting job. And Australia can’t be happy with you since they’ve had two red cards and neither of them were all that impressive. Tim Cahill was given a straight red for a challenge against Germany and Harry Kewell was sent off for a deliberate handball on the goal line the definitely wasn’t deliberate (penalty, probably, but any higher and the ball is hitting of his shoulder, which isn’t a handball). And FIFA’s already upheld every suspension except for Kaka’s to my knowledge.

And don’t get me started on the USA-Slovenia ending or Emile Heskey going studs up into Tim Howard’s ribs or the card-fest that was the aforementioned Germany-Serbia game. But Mr. Blatter, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Not holding your referee’s accountable in your sport doesn’t go over well with fans, especially in the USA. But to have the head of refereeing (Jose Garcia-Arnada, FIFA) say that he’s “very, very satisfied” with the officiating so far at the World Cup is a joke.

That means FIFA is very satisfied that most of its games are being affected or ruined from poor officiating. FIFA is very satisfied that the USA, Australia (twice), Switzerland and Germany have all been screwed out of potential wins in this tournament. FIFA is very satisfied that half of its referees shouldn’t be officiating on the sport’s biggest stage. FIFA is very satisfied that referees Koman Coulibaly (Mali, referee of USA-Slovenia) and Stephane Lannoy (France, referee of Brazil-Ivory Coast) were unable to attend Monday’s media session because they were travelling. That, Mr. Blatter, despite what you and your cronies say, is unacceptable.

The only people having a worse tournament than FIFA referee’s are probably, France, England, Italy and the ESPN commentators for the Mexico-Uruguay game. That’s it. That’s the list of people/teams doing a worse job than you. And England and Itlay are questionable.

Now, I don’t know whether you’re trying to kill soccer in America. But did you see the ratings for the two USA World Cup games yet? We’re watching (sort of). And maybe some of us are trying to watch the other games too, but most of the country has probably given up by now. They don’t understand what’s going on. American’s cannot grasp the fact that referees are not help accountable for their actions. When Jim Joyce robbed a pitcher of a perfect game, he owned up to it. When Ed “Guns” Hochuli missed a call that would have clinched a Chargers win, he manned up to his mistake. These are two of the best referees in their respective sports. The NHL has largely been proactive with its rule changes, with hits to the head and the “Sean Avery  rule” for goaltender interference just off the top of my head. I’ll leave Gary Bettman’s idiotic we’re not playing at Sochi 2014 out of this for now and his failure to capitalize on the amazing Olympic hockey tournament. (Whoops.) But dare I say that FIFA is taking a page out of the book of Bud Selig and MLB?

Yes, you are. Your sport has a problem and yet you are more enthralled with the human element of the game rather than getting the call right. Any appeals that both your sports have end in failure, so why bother appealing cards or protest games in MLB? Why are the processes there? Why even have them if it is impossible for someone to win. You want to know why baseball isn’t the number one rated sport anymore Mr. Blatter? Do you want to know why soccer will never be more than a second tier sport in the USA?

Because you’re doing nothing to attract fans to your sport right now. At least not in the United States. You had a great chance to keep a large soccer following in this country, ESPN has been shoving soccer down our throats since 2009 with MLS, the Confederations Cup, 09-10 EPL and other European leagues and even more MLS. And in less than two weeks you’ve already had the worst World Cup in my memory. I thought in 2002 you were cracking down on embellishing? I thought in 2006 you were going to judge studs up tackles more harshly? I thought in 2010 you would have your referees in order.

I guess I was wrong. And that’s a shame. Because there are 300 million people in this country, which means right now there are 300 potential million soccer fans. And even a certified referee cannot explain to them what is going on.

Category: Soccer
Posted on: November 19, 2009 10:35 am

MLB & FIFA Need Instant Replay

France's Thierry Henry blatantly handled the ball in an offside position before passing to set up France's game-winning goal in extra time against Ireland yesterday. I'll give him a pass on the first one, probably inadvertant, but it's still a hand ball. The second was completely intentional and it led to a nifty pass to William Gallas for the goal.

The baseball world watched as crews of umpires missed call after call in the month of October. Baseball won't be expanding it's use of instant replay anytime soon either, but when it was used in the postseason, it quickly and correctly made calls without slowing down the game. One of the chief arguements against baseball replay is that it will take to long. Really? Unless the camera angles aren't all that great, should be pretty cut a dry. He was out a first, the outfielder trapped the ball and the runner missed home plate. Shouldn't take more than a minute in a game where half the time is spent warming up anyway.

So I ask the great representatives of FIFA and MLB. For the love all that is great in sports, please institute a greater instant replay system. Just hire a guy in to sit in a booth and watch the ESPN or FOX feed and if there is a problem, ask the TV production guys for a replay and then relay it down to the refs. It's not hard. Everyone will love you for it. Really, they would. The players secretly will like it because they know the game is being played fair and the fans will love it because they love the game anyway.

And this goes double for soccer. I am personnally sick and tired of players trying to flop, dive and do what ever is needed to draw a foul. Anytime there's a freekick in a dangerous area, have that guy in the booth determine if there was enough flop to negate the foul. Again, shouldn't take that long, the clock doesn't stop in soccer anyway. Teams usually take 30 seconds to line up the kicks anyway and in that time a referee in a booth should have more than enough time to tell the ref on the field that it's a good call or not.

Baseball needs to expand it's calls in the field. Any close play at a base, interference, trapped catches, etc. NOT Balls or Strikes. QwestTech or whatever it is should be banned. If TV wants to show us a top-down view of the ball crossing the plate fine, I'll allow it. No more of laser-guided GPS strikezone stuff. I'm going to complain about my guy striking out anyway, I don't need to see whether the or not Blue is right, ruins the moment.

To be fair to baseball, it did take steps to solve its October woes. FIFA needs to establish some kind of replay rules for International competitions -- World Cup, Qualifyers, Confederations Cup, Regional Competitions, etc. Let the top leagues (EPL, Primera, Bundesliga, MLS) decide their own rules for replay, but maybe help with some guidelines in the international game. Review all goals, free kicks in the attacking third and potential red card offenses and flopping. Seems pretty simple. Maybe start fining teams and players who flop intentionally, clean up the game a little bit.

Either way, the nation of Ireland mourns. And while the prospect of rooting against France is great (kind of like rooting against Duke in March), I'd still rather have the Irish playing in South Africa next summer.

But it is so much fun to bring up the whole "Freedom Fries" thing again.

- Eagle
Category: General
Tags: FIFA, MLB, Replay
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com