Villa and Ardiles World Cup Decision: More Thoughts

150px-Ardiles14-08-2006

I’ve written a piece on the decision of two Argentine legends who both played club football for a time in Fort Lauderdale to back England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

Let me give more explanation as to why the decision bothers me. In 1982, when the Falklands War broke out both Ardiles and Villa were met with hostility throughout England in a way that would not happen in the United States, say had we broken into war with Argentina. Villa literally fled to south Florida to play for the Strikers, the team I served as a ball boy for at the time.

With a large Argentine community in south Florida, Villa felt comfortable, and cries of “Villa!, Villa!” rained over Lockhart Stadium. When the US broke into a war with Serbia in 1999, the Kansas City Wizards had two players that were born in Serbia. Neither faced any large scale hostility on the road. In 2000, two Iranian players, Mohamed Khakpour and Khodobad Azzizi played in MLS and received a warm welcome.

There are countless more examples of the generosity of American fans towards foreign footballers. The USSF, must leverage this situation into a positive for the US bid. With a large number of NASL players still playing a key role in FIFA now, if a choice for 2018 comes down to the US vs England, the credibility of England’s bid is stronger because of the prominent footballers backing it. This is despite the fact that on the surface, the US has a better infrastructure for hosting major events, better stadiums, and an ethnic mix of peoples that made the 1994 World Cup the most successful in FIFA history.