By Mike Meraz
By Mike Meraz
The revolution will be televised. It’s on ESPN2.
The Union of European Football Association is the premier soccer league across the world.
Their champions league final, which is the best teams in the UEFA, was just played between Manchester United and Chelsea.
The match up would essentially be the Yankees playing the Red Sox in the World Series.
Man U and Chelsea are two of the biggest soccer teams in England. For them to play each other in the Champions League Final is bigger than any super bowl in the United States.
It’s bigger than Yanks vs. Sox, and even Celtics vs. Lakers.
It’s no secret that soccer has not really caught on here in the United States.
The fact that the Champions League final was even televised on ESPN2 was a major deal. Though it was most likely due to the fact that Chelsea and Man U were in the finals.
Still though, the question remains, why is soccer such an irrelevant sport in the US when it is obviously the most popular sport in the world?
A recent trip to Ireland over spring break helped shine a little light on the situation.
After spending just a few hours with some Irish sports fans, theipassion for soccer could be quickly seen.
You can’t walk into a pub in Ireland and not see some kind of soccer game or soccer story on the TV.
We were fortunate enough to arrive on a big game day that featured Liverpool.
I had no idea who to root for but because of all the passion shown in the bar made me root against Liverpool.
The passion these fans had for their game was far greater than that of any American sport.
Talking with many die hard fans, one thing they cannot stand is the “American’s version of soccer.”
They claim it to be too slow and also state that not enough talent is in the MLS to make it exciting and competitive.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons MLS has not caught on throughout the country.
All of the best players in the world flock to the UEFA to play at the highest level.
All of the Ronaldo’s and Ronaldhinos of the world are already competing in the UEFA.
It’s a similar situation to the NFL trying to spread it’s game to Europe when they created NFL Europe some years ago, a watered down version of the NFL.
Well NFL Europe has all but disbanded and has been a complete disaster.
The NFL is at it again however, this time their taking real NFL games to Europe.
Perhaps the fans will respond differently to official NFL games. But would this strategy work for the UEFA?
Do they even have the desire or need to spread their game to North America?
The sport is such a success throughout Europe that they really have no need to try to expand outside of it.
The only other time that the American public seems to be interested in soccer is during the World Cup, which only happens once every four years.
There’s just something so invigorating about country vs. country, just like in the Olympics.
Perhaps this is another one of the reasons for the UEFA’s success.
Although their players are not necessarilly from the country they are playing for, they still represent their country in things such as the champion’s League and the EURO 2008.
Will soccer ever catch on the United States and take it’s rightful place with the other major sports of the country?
The upcoming EURO 2008 tournament should be a good indication of the state of the sport in America.
It is the UEFA’s version of the World Cup.
The top sixteen teams are selected by country through a series of qualifiers and compete to be crowned champion.
Among the teams selected are Germany, Spain, Italy and France.
The three week long tournament will be held in Austria and Switzerland starting on June 7.
It will also will receive full television coverage from ESPN up until the championship match on June 21.
This gives Americans another chance to not only see the best soccer players in the world, but to pick their favorite European country and become a fan for three weeks.
If that’s not enough to entice the casual sports fan to watch, maybe the fact that there will be no Beckham sightings throughout the tournament will.