April Commentary

“Copa America Centenaro and 2015 FIFA Corruption Case”

This fall the 100th anniversary of the premier international soccer competition for the America’s is taking place for the first time in American soil. The competition celebrates the one hundred years of the CONMEBOL (Confederation of South American Football). This will be the 45th installment of the tournament that started in 1916, where the North American soccer federation the CONCACAF will be invited to participate for the first time. It’s surely to be a huge deal as CONMEBOL President Nicolas Leoz said “Hopefully we can organize a big event, because we have 100 years and we want to celebrate big”.  In order to fully understand the importance of this competition we must look back into the rich history of the Copa America. The first edition in 1916 where Uruguay ousted Argentina 3-1 for its first of a record 15 Copa America crowns. Uruguay would dominate the 20’s and 30’s until an era of Argentine brilliance lead the Albicelestes to seven consecutive coronations in the 40’s and 50’s. Around 1964 however the exceptionalism of Brazilian soccer was demonstrated by rising stars such as Pele, Falcao, Rafinha, and Juan Guanso Lomes Perez Sousa. The Copa America usually set the tone for a successful campaign in the world cup which Uruguay and Argentina would lift twice and Brazil a record five times. The following decades would see these powerhouses battle each other for scattered titles and new up and coming challengers such as Bolivia and Peru would take the cup home each twice. Moving on to the modern era, Brazil has dominated the majority of the competition, however Uruguay claimed the title anew in 2011 and Chile won its country first Copa in 2015.

The teams participating officially announced for the tournament, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF confirmed that all ten CONMEBOL members will be joined by six CONCACAF teams in the tournament. United States and Mexico will automatically qualify. The other four spots will be given to Costa Rica, the champions of the Central American Football Union by virtue of winning the 2014 Copa Centro Americana, Jamaica, the champions of the Caribbean Football Union by virtue of winning the 2014 Caribbean Cup, and Haiti and Panama, the two play-off winners among the four highest finishers in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup not already qualified. The group seeds and match schedule were announced on 17 December 2015 the USA (Group A) were seeded as host, Argentina (Group D) were seeded as the highest FIFA-ranked team in the CONMEBOL region during December 2015. According to Soccer United Marketing, Brazil (Group B) and Mexico (Group C) were seeded as they were “the most decorated nations in the last 100 years in international competitions from their respective confederations”. However, there has been criticism for not including Uruguay, which won two World Cups and is the Copa América all-time leader with 15 championships, or Chile, which is the defending Copa América winner.

This tournament however highlights the 2015 FIFA corruption case where U.S. federal prosecutors disclosed cases of corruption by officials and associates connected with FIFA, the governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer. On May 2015, fourteen people were indicted in connection with an investigation by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) into wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. The United States Attorney General simultaneously announced the unsealing of the indictments and the prior guilty pleas by four football executives and two corporations. The investigation mostly revolved around collusion between officials of continental football bodies CONMEBOL and CONCACAF (Caribbean, Central and North America), and sports marketing executives. The sports marketing executives were holders of media and marketing rights for high-profile international competitions including the Americas’ FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments, and showpiece tournaments CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa América. CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, also serving president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, was arrested in connection with the investigation, as were two sitting FIFA Executive Committee members: Eduardo Li of the Costa Rican Football Federation and Eugenio Figueredo, formerly of the Uruguayan Football Association, and former CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leoz. The investigation lasted several years, with the first arrest, of former CONCACAF president Jack Warner’s son Daryll, made in July 2013.In total, seven current FIFA officials were arrested at the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zürich on May 27. They were preparing to attend the 65th FIFA Congress, which was scheduled to include the election of the president of FIFA. They are expected to be extradited to the United States on suspicion of receiving US$150 million in bribes. There was also a simultaneous raid on the CONCACAF headquarters in Miami, and later, two further men handed themselves in to police for arrest: Jack Warner and marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco. Two further arrests of FIFA officials at the hotel occurred in December 2015.The arrests case triggered Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany and Switzerland to open or intensify separate criminal investigations into top FIFA officials for corruption.

In all the pending one hundred years anniversary of the Copa America is sure to captivate soccer fans around the globe. This of course doesn’t mask the huge stain on FIFA’s reputation which will need every bit of excitement and praise from the tournament to make amends to billions in racketeering and brides it’s been indicted for.

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March Commentary

By Daniel Fonseca

“U.S.W.N.T sues American Soccer Federation”

Throughout the passing of time mankind has surpassed previous limitations found its way through evolution by exceeding in the fields of commerce, social stratification, globalization and the rise of technology. However, one constant has always been a step behind in advancing accordingly: women specifically, gender equality, which has been perennially set on the back burner when it comes to social advancements. These inequalities have translated onto every facet of female life in America including sports.

 

Recently, the US women’s national soccer team had a number of key players (5) (Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan and midfielder Megan Rapinoe) sue the U.S Soccer governing. It is known that the American soccer federation pays both men and women for international matches, historically the women’s team has been dominate in staking their claim as the most successful women’s international team by winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, becoming the most successful team in that competition with three total World Cup wins. Comparatively however, the men’s tem has been underperforming having never won a FIFA World Cup and are generally seen as mediocre compared to their female counterparts. The case was submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because the five players aforementioned cited US soccer in wage discrimination while on international duty, stating that “they earned as little as 40 percent of what players on the United States men’s national team earned even as they marched to the team’s third world championship last year.”[1](NY Times) This disparity in wage is a testament to the wage gap reflected in the American workplace today where women earn on average 79 cents to the dollar of what a male would earn at the same position. Thus, US soccer’s wage disparity infringes on the 2004 “Americans for a fair Chance” Bill which “provides qualified individuals (both men and women) with equal access to opportunities. Equal opportunity programs, equal payment opportunity along with recruitment, outreach, and training initiatives, which have played a critical role in providing women with access to educational and professional opportunities they would otherwise have been denied despite their strong qualifications.”[2] Clearly, US women’s soccer has the strong qualifications to be paid equally as the men given their illustrious reputation as one of soccer top contenders, however the wage gap still persist in sports and American society. Economists have found that ultimately the wage gap hinders the American economy because pay discrimination for women equates to low wages, resulting in a lowered average income due to the income inequality. In addition the gender gap harms the US economy by hindering over half of its working population from earning a salary given to the other half of the population. This undeniable harm hurts all of us in the long run and this is exactly what US women’s soccer is addressing. The wage gap it is largely a debate that is advocated by pro women empowerment feminist institutions, which appeal as radical and uncomfortable to the patriarchal American social fabric. However, team USA sheds the light on the issue by voicing a problem through powerful female figures that are respected by both male and females, the US women’s team.

Hope Solo, one of the team’s captains and one of the five players to call out the US soccer federation was quoted saying that “The numbers speak fir themselves, we are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships, and the U.S.M.N.T gets paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships” [3].(NY Times Paragraph 4). The response by the US soccer representatives was stating that the U.S.M.N.T produced higher revenues, through attendance that was twice that of the women’s team. In addition to television ratings, “were “a multiple” of what the women attract, according to Sunil Gulati, the U.S. Soccer president. A federation spokesman, Neil Buethe, called some of the revenue figures in the players’ complaint “inaccurate, misleading or both.”[4] For example, women earn $30,000 each for making the World Cup team compared to $68,750 of the U.S.N.T in addition the U.S.W.N.T earns a maximum of $99,000 compared to the $263,320 collected by the men’s.[5] (NY Daily paragraph 5). The biggest example of income discrimination come from the women only earning 2 million from their world cup trophy money compensation while the men collected 9 million after having a disappointing World Cup campaign going 1-2-1 the year before in Brazil 2014.

Finally, this issue highlights a major social flaw in the American socioeconomic atmosphere. There can be no doubt that women need to be empowered for the promotion of mankind as a whole. However, there is also no denying the plurality that feminism advocacy by the US women national team has in positively affecting the lives of women both sports and the workforce. This can be seen by increase in work place opportunities which allows the fortification and competitiveness of the workplace, boost in the economy which helps improve the lives of both men and women, and finally a loosening of the gender roles and gender discrimination which in effect allows fluidity between both men and women to take upon alternating roles at both the home and workplace.

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/sports/soccer/uswnt-us-women-carli-lloyd-alex-morgan-hope-solo-complain.html?module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Soccer&action=keypress&region=FixedLeft&pgtype=article

 

[2] [2] http://www.civilrights.org/equal-opportunity/fact-sheets/women.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

 

 

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/sports/soccer/uswnt-us-women-carli-lloyd-alex-morgan-hope-solo-complain.html?module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Soccer&action=keypress&region=FixedLeft&pgtype=article

 

[4] http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/women-national-team-calls-foul-soccer-article-1.2583405

 

[5] http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/women-national-team-calls-foul-soccer-article-1.2583405