Rocco B. Commisso: “It’s just shameful, shameful that the largest country economically in the world, with more kids playing this game than any other country.” (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
It seems that a day won’t go by without Rocco Commisso criticizing something about U.S. Soccer.
During halftime of the Cosmos’ scoreless draw with FC Edmonton Saturday night, the Cosmos owner and chairman of the North American Soccer League board of governors hurled more salvos at the federation, ripping the U.S. national team’s performance in particular and the organization in general in wake of its elimination from World Cup qualifying.
“It’s just shameful, shameful that the largest country economically in the world, with more kids playing this game than any other country,” he said during a pre-taped interview with Cosmos TV announcer Ed Cohen on MSG. “We have 70,000 fields I checked out and we go and lose to a team from Trinidad & Tobago, had most of the people playing there were substitutes. It’s just incredible that we get to that level.
“The problem is that we have set our goal just to the mere fact of getting into the World Cup as opposed to winning the World Cup.”
That might be much easier said than done because only a handful of teams have managed to win the World Cup since the competition started in 1930.
The Americans lost to the Soca Warriors in Couva, Trinidad Tuesday night, 2-1, as their World Cup hopes were dashed. They failed to reach soccer’s promised land for the first time since 1986.
ICYMI: Rocco B. Commisso's Half Time interview on MSG Networks.#USSF #USMNT #USSoccer
由 New York Cosmos 发布于 2017年10月14日
Video courtesy of the Cosmos’ Facebook page
When asked by Cohen what had to change, Commisso replied, “Let’s start with the statements that were made as recently as a few months ago where Bruce Arena says he won’t take any players from the NASL. Well, two players from Trinidad play in our league, down in North Carolina, the other in Jacksonville. And we all of these phenomenal players who play in MLS and look where they got us.”
Commisso was referring to Jacksonville Armada defender Kevan George, who played the entire game, and North Carolina FC defender Kareem Moses, who was an unused sub.
Then Commisso again took aim at the powers that be at U.S. Soccer.
“Let’s start at the very top,” he said. “U.S. Soccer is led by people that never played. And that’s critical in my opinion as to where we are. We’ve been in the World Cup. The World Cup has been around for 80-90 years and we’ve won a total of six games during that entire period of time. Unacceptable, unacceptable, given how many kids we have playing soccer. The women have done extremely well largely because we started women’s soccer here in this country with Title IX. But men’s soccer has gotten nowhere. I thought with the revolution the Cosmos started back in the seventies where we had the like of Pele, Beckenbauer, Chingalia … I thought frankly that the revolution would continue where the us would be at the highest pinnacle of worldwide soccer and we have not accomplished that.”
The Cosmos started a youth soccer boom in the late seventies, which led to the U.S. qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in 40 years in 1990. Historians have noted that many countries have played the game at a high level for close to a century. As opposed to many other nations, in which soccer is the lone or leading sport, the United States has several major team sports, including baseball, American gridiron football, basketball and hockey.
Commisso, however, was not finished.
“We got to make sure that going forward, that people that know this game, people that love this game, people who are there because of the passion of the game, as opposed to going there and try to make money out of the game,” he said. “They are in charge of U.S. soccer.
“The mission of U.S. Soccer is to promote soccer at all levels. It’s not to pick sides and who’s the better league or not. There are huge conflicts of interest.”
Commisso then used a non-sports analogy to make his point.
“It’s like the board of health has a deal with McDonald’s and competition coming about from the pizza stores with hamburger joints and whatever,” he said. “And the board of health, they have this deal with McDonald’s, that says, ‘Let’s shut down all the competition with McDonald’s.’ That’s exactly what’s happening here. They want to shut down our league, they want to shut down our team because we provide a threat to the MLS and frankly to the two New York teams here.”
New York City FC averages 22,648 per game at Yankee Stadium while the Red Bulls are at 20,922 at Red Bull Arena. They play in the 22-team Major League Soccer.
The Cosmos average 4,662 per game at MCU Park in Brooklyn. They play in the eight-team NASL.
Through written statements twice this week, Commisso asked for the resignation of U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.
The NASL has asked for a temporary injunction against U.S. Soccer, which took away the league’s Division 2 status for 2018. A ruling in United States District Court, Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, N.Y. is expected on or before Oct. 31. The league also has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the federation.
“In a few weeks we’ll know where were heading,” Commisso said.