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World Cup 2014: Don’t Expect FIFA to Drastically Change Concussion Protocol

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Safe to say FIFA’s current concussion protocol is a huge problem, but do not expect FIFA to be too concerned about it.

The way team doctors have dealt with concussions during the World Cup is abhorrent and antiquated and in the World Cup Final things were no different.

In the 17th minute German midfielder Cristoph Kramer received an NFL-type hit to the head. After a brief and laughable medical examination Kramer stayed on for about another 14 minutes until he fell on the pitch. The midfielder, who was in a daze, had to be helped off by the team doctors.

This is one of three alarming incidents of players remaining on the pitch after absolutely brutal blows to the head. 

In the semifinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands, Argentina midfield Javier Mascherano violently butt heads with the Netherlands’ Georginio Wijnaldum. After the contact, Mascherano was seen stumbling and holding his head with a look of bewilderment as if he had no idea where he was. And by the look of things, he probably didn’t at that point in time.

In group play, Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Pereira took a brutal knee to the dome in his squad’s match against England. The collision left him out cold for a short period of time, but Pereira objected to being subbed out despite orders from the team doctor.

What happened in all three occasions? They remained on the pitch and kept playing either until the end of the match or until they had trouble standing up on their own.

I am not a doctor and I can’t confirm whether these in fact were concussions. But if it looks like a concussion, stumbles like a concussion, it very well might be a concussion.

Granted, these are grown men making decisions for themselves. They know that the World Cup happens every four years and they will make every possible effort even if that means putting themselves in serious danger.

Players should not be the ones making decisions of whether or not to stay on the pitch after sustaining a serious head injury, but they did in these instances. As a result, there have been calls for the presence of independent doctors not affiliated with the country.

As serious as this problem appears to be, FIFA has exhibited very little focus and action when it comes to other very glaring issues. Whether it is turning the blind eye to racism or slavery-like conditions, they just do not care. They do not have to care because they have not been held liable for their deplorable actions.

Seems that with an organization like this, the only way for changes to occur with concussion protocol is if something drastically tragic happens on the pitch. Second Impact Syndrome is a very, very real thing, but do not tell FIFA that.

Actually do tell FIFA, they will disregard what you are saying anyway. 

Filed under FIFA SOCCER FUTBOL FOOTBALL WORLDCUP WORLDCUP2014 CONCUSSION URU NED GER ARG ENG

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My Response to Keith Olbermann’s “How to Make Soccer Work in America” Monologue

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(AP/Matt Dunham)

“Is this the World Cup that will turn the tide and make soccer relevant to more people in the United States?”

This question (or ones similar to it) has overwhelmingly and annoyingly been the topic of discussion since the United States lost Tuesday’s elimination match against Belgium.

Even Keith Olbermann, who is no aficionado of the sport, offered his take on how to increase soccer’s popularity in the U.S.  

Although I usually enjoy his opening monologues, I found myself fundamentally disagreeing with almost all of his ideas.

Here is a quick summary of his points with my thoughts on each:

1. Stop Imitating the British

Olbermann first says that the United States and soccer fans need to stop “imitating” the British’s vernacular and overall culture when it comes to the sport. He specially mentions the use of the terms “pitch (instead of field), “nil” (instead of zero),” and “kit” (instead of uniform).

Olbermann also believes soccer fans should “lose the scarves.”

There is some flawed reasoning behind this because soccer is a game that did not originate in the United States, unlike baseball, basketball and football. Subsequently terms such as “nil” or “kit” are going to be often used by soccer fans. 

The equivalent would be to ask why we use the word “love” for tennis. Why do not we just say “Serena Williams is up 30-zip?”

Using these terms, is not being British Fan Jr., it is just understanding the roots of the game and willfully deciding to use them.

An increase of popularity of the sport will not be contingent on whether soccer fans do or do not use certain soccer words that derive from British football.  

2. The Need for American play-by-play announcers

There are not many play-by-play announcers in any sport that I find more enjoyable to listen to than Ian Darke. He is the utmost professional and his knowledge of the sport is unmatched. Not to mention he was on the mic for two memorable calls in U.S. Soccer History.

I personally have enjoyed watching soccer matches more because of Ian Darke. He expresses a genuine interest in seeing U.S. Soccer do well and that is reflected in his commentary of the matches.

Although it would be nice to see to have an American play-by-play, Darke always has done a stellar job.

3. Lay off Elitism 

This point I actually agree with. Soccer fans tend to have a condescending tone when speaking about or explaining rules to others who do not know the sport. 

4. Calm Down

I would not say Soccer fans are any more fanatical than the most extreme baseball, basketball, football or hockey fans. People in general need to calm down.

5. Change MLS Team Names (FC Dallas, NYCFC call them the Yankees)

Sports fans are seldom concerned with team names. The connections fans share with a team is usually involved with geography, family influence or attachment to an individual player.

Fans do not pledge allegiance to a team the way some people select game for the NCAA tournament; based on the superior team name or mascot.

Olbermann says he does not like the NYC Football Club name and that they should have considered naming the team, “The Yankees” because they will be playing in Yankees Stadium.

So MLS clubs should not name themselves the New York City Football Club, but they should name themselves after a baseball team. But of course.

6. Stay away from FIFA

For someone of Olbermann’s intelligence it is shocking how he can grossly oversimplify this. He says it in such a matter of fact fashion that he makes it sounds like something this complicated can happen overnight. 

The statement is like saying why don’t athletes just stay away from the NCAA? It is not that easy.

Trust me, there are not many people that despise FIFA more than I do. What they are allowing to happen in Qatar, just adds to the laundry listen of overall corruption which includes enabling racism, housing bribery and displacing thousands of poor Brazilians.

But FIFA is an umbrella organization and it would probably take decades for something like that to happen, if it were to happen at all.

And staging a World Cup here in the United States as he suggests is being irrational considering the MLS cannot even acquire world-class superstars until they are past their prime.

That expectation, as pleasant as it sounds, is not at all reasonable.

7. Won’t somebody think of the children?

Olbermann states how there is an increase in popularity of the sport among teenagers partly because of the emergence of the FIFA video game.

I do not really understand how this is a point to make soccer work in the U.S. It already is working.

This demonstrates the growing popularity in the exact demographic that soccer needs to reach.

These seven “tips” do not address what will make soccer more relevant in the U.S. The only thing that will increase the popularity for good is advancing very far in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

In the mean time, acquisitions of talent and strengthening of the MLS will have to do.

And trust me, these minute, fairly insignificant nuances of the sport definitely will not be the game changers.

Filed under USA USMNT WORLDCUP SOCCER WORLDCUP2014 BRAZIL FOOTBALL FUTBOL