The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, June 15, 2020

The anthem, Trump and FIFA; Canada is coachless and looking forward to the big reveal for World Cup 2023. Plus links and Mark Parsons on The Challenge Cup

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The anthem, Trump and FIFA

I cover a lot of different sports, so I pay attention to a variety of things. But really, with the exception of the dumpster fire that is Major League Baseball, lots of stuff is happening in the woso world (and soccer in general) so I’ll cover over the high points.

First off, the anthem issue

U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors did the right thing and voted to repeal its anthem policy this past week. I wrote about the vote here, and Cindy Parlow Cone’s reaction from Saturday here.

It is my understanding from two sources that Parlow Cone took the lead on this, broaching the possibility of striking the policy the week before. Cone and new CEO Will Wilson took part in a video conference with some 70 percent of the USSF staff to talk about race and discrimination.

As for the Tuesday call with the board that that effectively repealed the policy (it will be voted on), there were three players who voiced their opinions. And those opinions were not necessarily unified.

Parlow Cone apologized for the policy on Saturday in the board’s public session.

“I want to again personally apologize to all the black people as well as other minorities for us not being leaders in this fight. I want to affirm that your experiences in our country are real. That I hear you. That I see you. And that I believe in you. We are committed to doing better to help fight racism and discrimination in all its forms. Policy 604-1 was just the first step. We will continue to engage with our players, our staff and soccer stakeholders to help us be a positive force for change going forward. And this is not about short term initiatives. This is about writing these ideals into our DNA, so they are forming every decision we make moving forward.”

Parlow Cone also told ESPN that she apologized to Megan Rapinoe, who was the target of the policy after she kneeled in solidarity with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Oh, and the policy change garnered the attention of Congressman Matt Gaetz, who once took a Holocaust denier to the State of the Union. Gaetz tweeted that he was “drafting” legislation that requires the players to stand or federal funding will be cut.

I have questions. First Amendment? What funding exactly?

I tweeted about FIFA’s rules against “third-party’’ intervention in soccer. FIFA hasn’t been afraid to use the rule: In 2015 it banned Indonesia from competition when its government meddled in the federation.

Perhaps it’s posturing. “Drafting” is pretty far off from “Actually Introducing”. But President Trump responded to a tweet about Gaetz’s outrage: “I won’t be watching much anymore!”

FIFA weighed in on Monday, when asked by the AP’s Rob Harris.

"FIFA strongly advocates for tolerance, mutual respect and common sense when such important matters are debated. FIFA has a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of all forms of discrimination in football, as outlined in the FIFA Statutes. We must all say no to racism and no to violence.”

Tempest in a teapot, IMO. Any Gaetz legislation would go no where in the current climate.

Kenneth Heiner-Moller leaves Canada

So Heiner-Moller went to the Danish Federation as head of coaching education, a position he’ll officially take on Sept. 1.

It feels kind of weird, because the Olympics are still on the horizon and Canada qualified under him.

But here’s hoping the Canadian federation hires a woman. For The Equalizer, Harjeet Johal pointed to Rhian Wilkinson, the former Canadian player who served as assistant to Heiner Moller.

And of course, one of the comments under Canada’s official tweet about the move suggested Jill Ellis. Because, as I’ve mentioned here before, Jill Ellis is going to be a candidate for every single coaching job going forward, even if she’s not.

Brazil drops out of the 2023 World Cup sweepstakes

My AP colleague, Mauricio Savarese in Brazil, broke the news that the Brazilian federation was dropping its bid for the World Cup, and throwing its support behind Colombia.

FIFA also revealed that the joint bid from Australia and New Zealand ranked atop the governing body’s technical evaluation report.

One note, I have not been able to take a deep dive into the individual bids or the report. I plan to for a future version of The IX. Stay tuned.

Share The IX


LINKS!

(Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! apeterson@ap.org.)

Harjeet Johal for the Equalizer on what comes next for the Canadian national team after Heiner-Moller’s departure.

I cannot recommend enough this All for XI piece from Bria Felicien on Black NWSL players.

Also for All for XI, Kim McCauley says there’s more to do after settling the anthem issue. And McCauley again with great advice: Call out media companies about women’s soccer coverage.

Jeff Kassouf writes about NWSL players who have felt the impact of racism in society.

AP story on gains that women’s pro soccer is making in Spain.

Megan Rapinoe’s hometown newspaper looks at her appearance with Stephen Colbert.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly looks that the national teams that pose the biggest threat to the USWNT’s dominance. Connelly also assessed the USWNT a year out of the World Cup win.

CNN took a look back at the USWNT’s 13-0 win over Thailand.

The Sydney Morning Herald on the opportunities to grow the women’s game presented by the World Cup.


Tweet of the week


Five at The IX: Mark Parsons

Thorns coach Mark Parsons addressed the media a while back about his team preparing for the Challenge Cup. Thought everyone might want to check out what he said.

Question on who was with the team and who is being quarantine, and the status of training.

Parsons: I'm not going to be specific because we've got moving parts. So I think in the next few days I'll be ready to be specific. We're getting close up. It's been a period where we're going through multiple stages. So we've had the individual training, voluntary, to small group training. And that day came around quick. It took weeks, but it it felt like it come around quick. We worked through that. Now we're getting back to the full team. So there's been a different quarantine period where people were traveling from, and when they got here. So it's still messy. We're getting closer. We're getting really close to having everyone that's healthy available. But throughout this process, and we've gone through those important stages, is understanding where each individual player is, each individual person is, their feelings about everything. Also where their physical and their bodies are at. The group has been incredible. And it's been one thing that they're doing their programs and they're working and they're putting in such incredibly hard, important work, But getting people back onto a soccer field is different to the individual work. So, yeah, we work through the stages. Everyone's a bit different. We're slowly getting to a clearer picture.

After Parsons confirmed everyone was with the team, including Lindsey Horan, he was asked to clarify is those players were quarantined before practicing.

Parsons: Yes, and the quarantine protocol following expert's advice and in coordination with the medical task force, and the league and the governing bodies, it has evolved. But yes, quarantine period has been depending where people come from. This needed to happen.

Question about where the players are at.

Parsons: Understanding where everyone is individually, as a person and then as an athlete, has been the process and that's not going to change. I've been telling the players that constantly, that that's the most important priority and it's going to be fluid. For us is to switch off for a second and I think that everyone's now perfect and ready to go -- this is a situation where it will constantly evolve and people may feel more comfortable or may feel less comfortable. Right now, the vibe is very positive. Everyone is just so happy to be back on the field. And it's been great to see the quality work the players have put in. They've put in some fantastic work. And now that's the platform. Now, every day we have to push on and we'll obviously get excited to think about soccer and competing again.

Question on the format of the tournament and how preparing for it is different than prep for a regular season.

Parsons: Really excited by the structure, the format, I think more impressed with how the league has worked with the clubs, and the league has worked with player associations. I think on new commissioner has just been a fantastic and important leader for us. And if you look throughout the organizations, what player reps have done, representing the team and communicating, our owners and front office. Because you've seen the quality of the people and their priorities throughout this process, wherever we landed I'm going to be OK as a coach. The competing on the soccer field is this simple part. Health and safety is always going to be No. 1, physical health and safety, mental health and safety and the emotional state of where everyone's at is always going to be No. 1.And the way the commissioner has has driven this process been very impressive. [00:05:20][51.5]

Question: You mentioned that some players are still making decisions and that things are evolving. Are you able to say whether you have any definite nos or yeses?

Parsons: No. Way too early and way too early because of the -- the only mentality that we're very passionate about to have, the only mentality in this period is to provide as much information for the players and the staff. Because staff members are just in the same place as players, obviously the only difference is players are going to expose themselves during game day more than staff. But it's important for us to think about every person that could be involved and provide the information, and players to have their time and space to be able to think about what is best for them. So the answer is no. We've got more of those conversations going forward. Everything looks positive. Where we're at right now is we know that we've got a high number of (players) wanting to be there and wanting to compete. And there's just some things that we'll continue to talk about these next few weeks. I want to be clear here, the people that I feel I could guess today are definite yeses, we've got to keep seeing how every step goes and every phase goes and how this process evolves. Same with the people that might need to see that from themselves before they feel more positive. Generally, we're in a great place, but our mentality throughout this is respecting everyone and letting them have the time and information to be able to make their own decision. Now, at some point, to be very clear, at some point we need to know. I'm preparing for a tournament. We haven't decided that day, and we haven't obviously shared that date. But when we talk about that possible date, it's going to involve the players, like everything has throughout this process, and see where how they feel about what date that is.

Question: When North Carolina came up on the board, what was your reaction?

Parsons: (Laughing) We knew it. You knew it's was going to happen. And I just hope its a really exciting game. There's so many storylines for Thorns playing a lot teams in this league. So it's a high probability it's gonna be a fun storyline, playing the champions is always going to be fun. It's a team we've got great history with, and to come off the bat and be able to go at them, I think it's a huge positive. And I think the only thing is, and I thought this maybe two years ago when the Thorns and Carolina were distinctively the two strongest. It felt like we were always playing each other, always playing each other first and we were facing each other in the championship, where it was an important rivalry and we don't want to overcook it. But it's cooled off, right? We didn't make it to a championship. We've got a few other teams chasing us as well. So it's a great game. Great game for the league. Great game for this country to see right off the bat. We're excited for it.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women's Soccer
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By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon  Freelance Tennis Writer
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