The problem with football in America

I’m sick of the moaning and groaning about football (soccer) here in the States and the fact nobody actually does anything about it. Fans want change in US football? Then do something about it. They tweet all the time about it, they go on podcasts and they shout about how things have to be different. That’s all well and good, but what actual work are you doing to change the game? Crickets are chirping because the thumb is mightier than the pen, or sword at this point. Why aren’t these fans going to take up the actual fight? Look who’s in charge.

Look at the United States Soccer Federation. President, Sunil Gulati, isn’t popular but the only way to get him out is to have an election. And despite being a democratic process, you can keep your job with greasing the palms of your constituents. Think of that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get him out. The other way, is to find some corruption on him and get the DOJ after him. Now, since we don’t have anything dirty on Gulati, and probably never will, the change from the top won’t come. All the ‘yes men’ around him will also allow only his views to be brought up. If you are the leader of something, you know all, or that’s what the common thought has been made out to be. You are being told only the stuff you want to hear and nothing that will change the sport.

Gulati will never do anything to harm the game, despite what FIFA has already done, and will continue to do. So to inflict change on the sport, you have to get off the phones, and create real havoc in the sport in the form of marches, demonstrations and boycotts. Oh wait, that’s going too far, right? Just sit back and continue to tweet is the best option, right? That should do it.

Passive change does not get anything done. People can be ignored on social networking sites and calling into talk shows doesn’t always work. We need to push the envelope – something fans of plenty of clubs in the UK have done over the years as things they dislike start to surface.

So what’s wrong with football in America, you might ask? Well, at Major League Soccer, NASL and USL level the main gripe tends to be about the fact there’s no way for a club to change leagues. The solution? Tweet about it. All the time. Keep in mind the comissioner of MLS is Don Garber, from the NFL. A league, folks, that is known for being big headed, full of itself and determined to tell you what to do. So the fact that the league still has a salary cap, plays favourites and doesn’t want to let anyone that isn’t on the ‘cool list’ in, shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

Let’s not get into the debate about promotion/relegation because it sparks up a lot of ill feelings and I don’t want to bore you, but essentially there are issues in the States, whether it’s about the structure of the league setup or the way some clubs are run financially, fans are worried.

As I said above – the league doesn’t let any team in who isn’t cleared by them themselves. That’s why Major League Soccer is in a relationship with the United Soccer League – they want to pick who joins the league and dominate the selection process. If they don’t warm to your club, you won’t make it into the top league, no matter who you are. How unfair is that?

There’s a lot wrong with sport in general at the moment and football all over the world, but here, in America, we’re beginning to feel the negativity. Concerns are being raised and with the game generally growing and developing more of a reputation for itself here, we don’t want it to come crashing down because of a few dodgy decisions and the fans’ voice being ignored by those in charge.

We, as fans, can’t change things by sitting online or taking a defeatist attitude. One has to be proactive and not take no for an answer. We have to try harder to make the change that we want. It’s a sport plenty of Americans now love, I just wish we joined forces and campaigned in a powerful manner to get our grievances across to those who matter. We are in an era of change. It’s time fans of football in America came together and looked at examples where changes in football have been made due to protesting fans from other countries.

By Stephen Brandt – Liverpool fan – @yellowcardSCB

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