Soccer Takes From Jake: Oh, England

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IN THEORY…
Let’s talk about things that are good in theory. Specifically football governing bodies.

Whether it’s FIFA, US Soccer, The FA (of England), these entities mean well and over the years sure have done plenty of good in terms of organizing the beautiful game, forming leagues, and all that jazz.

At the same time, for every bit of good they do, boy do they have some spectacular transgressions that wash out their mission statements and leave us with a bland taste in the mouth that tends towards bad – like eating anything from Subway.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and/or are choosing to plug your ears, on Wednesday, The FA told Mark Sampson to get to walking. They didn’t give him the boot over the allegations of racial abuse of Eniola Aluko or Katie Chapman’s claims that he dropped her from national team consideration as she was going through a divorce. Instead, he was fired because of his transgressions while he was coach at Bristol City in 2014.

Here’s where things get really stupid.

Those transgressions apparently weren’t deemed to be fireable transgressions – just one that didn’t make him look good (HUH?!). It was only when  Sampson’s now former boss, FA big boss Martin Glenn read the Bristol City report in full  (HUH?!) that he decided to give Sampson the boot.

Oh Marty, why oh why did you just wait until last week to read the Bristol City report? Were you getting annoyed at everyone on social media rightfully tearing into Sampson regarding Aluko and the growing support for her as well as the emergence of Chapman? It’s hard to swallow the idea that the FA simply forgot about this report. Surely as you were getting settled into the job, you’d be told about important things like investigations into your senior national team manager being a scumbag.

When they were talking about today’s events on TalkSport, someone said that the “best” thing for The FA  to do at this point is lay out all their cards on the table. Likely alluding to making that Bristol City report available for the public to read and just see for themselves how bad Sampson’s conduct was. This whole notion of that whatever his conduct was, it wasn’t a risk to the safeguard of players is quite the eyebrow-raiser. If the assertions from the Bristol City report are Sampson was pretty much a scumbag, how is that not a threat to player’s safety and well-being, physically and/or mentally? I’m really going to need an adult to explain that one to me.

It’s one thing to appoint someone with the charisma of a paper towel tube, like Roy Hodgson being appointed to the men’s side. Some might even say it’s hilariously fitting. It’s a completely different thing to know someone has a dark cloud above them and still give them the keys. The FA’s position is, basically: “While we feel Mark Sampson is not a racist, we’ve determined that he was kind of a scumbag.” That is the message The FA, under Martin Glenn’s helm have chosen to close the Mark Sampson era as manager of their senior national team. You and The FA might feel like you’ve done the right thing in dumping him now before more voices get louder and stronger with the receipts, but you put this stain on yourself and reputation of the governing body as a whole by not taking it seriously years ago. Matthew Lawson at The Daily Mail said it best: how can you survive the way this one has been mishandling?

So let’s actually get it all on the table.  Omit the names to protect their privacy if you must, but we the public deserve to read that Bristol City report. Trying to keep it all away from public eyes is only going to heighten the scrutiny and when it’s eventually leaked, things will only be worse. Get it all out now, and let’s have a true accounting. 

Fans are going to trash the governing body executives for all kinds of reasons – not liking who they appoint, corruption, ineptitude, etc. But that’s all standard stuff. When those suits turn a blind eye to genuinely awful behavior, public trust will go out the window for good. If there was any defense for their actions, they need to put it out there, or risk a total collapse of legitimacy. 

We can all concede that overseeing a governing body is not an easy job and there are tons of moving parts. However if you’re involved in the game and when it’s time to actually govern for the right, moral reasons and you don’t – this is what undermines your practices and render the entity as just… good in theory.

WEEK 21 NWSL PREDICTIONS
Hey, back to actual soccer and stuff that happens on the field!

PORTLAND THORNS OVER ORLANDO PRIDE
Reign FC fans might find it weird hoping Portland does them a solid and beat Orlando to keep their playoff hopes alive, but there is incentive for the Thorns to win this in general. They are two points behind the North Carolina Courage and the allure of retaining the NWSL Shield for best regular season record is there for them.

WASHINGTON SPIRIT AND BOSTON BREAKERS PLAY TO A DRAW
They’ll play this game and probably not a whole lot of eventful things will happen.

HOUSTON DASH AND CHICAGO RED STARS PLAY TO A DRAW
The Red Stars need a win to keep their grip on the three-seed but I can see this one being a draw, leaving us at least a little bit of drama going into the final weekend.

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE OVER SKY BLUE FC
The Portland Thorns are right on North Carolina’s heels for that NWSL Shield. While I don’t think Paul Riley’s squad views that piece of hardware as a priority, it sure would do a nice job of trying their championship from last year under a different name together with their new position in NC.

SEATTLE REIGN FC OVER FC KANSAS CITY
Who knows if the tone of the FourFourTwo article will have an affect on the Blues coming into Seattle, but with things in flux and in Seattle’s home finale, they should be amped up. I don’t see a shootout but I can see Seattle throwing everything including the kitchen sink to get the full three points and make that final weekend of the regular season exciting and anxiety-inducing.

So yes, the third and fourth playoff seeds will come down to the final weekend. Hope you remained buckled into the roller coaster that is the NWSL. Here’s your music video break.

Song: “Doing It For The Money” | Artist: Foster The People