Want to make soccer a “top sport” in the USA, Mr. Infantino? Here’s your checklist

Let’s say this first about the White House visit by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro: The “red card to the media” stunt was disgraceful. Maybe Infantino is unaware that the current occupant of the White House has incited hatred toward the media — not just the usual complaints about unfair stories but a deliberate outright undermining of the work they do, leading to death threats and quite possibly playing a role in the murder of five people at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis — but Cordeiro sure as hell knows, and he ought to be apologizing.

Now, let’s move on to the interesting stuff Infantino said. Basically, he wants the USA to contribute more money to … I mean … become a greater power in world football.

We certainly have a lot of work to do along those lines. Cordeiro needs to get busy putting out the fires in youth, pro and adult soccer (in that order, if he needs to prioritize, though delegating people to solve all three is fine). We’ll never be a top-down country like Germany, but we need to get people on the same page. For more on that, read … every other post in this blog, pretty much.

But before you leave, Mr. Infantino, may I please draw your attention to the following?

1. The 2022 World Cup is a human rights disaster. At this point, I’m frankly not sure I have the stomach to watch it.

2. The 2022 World Cup will be held when fewer Americans will be watching it. You can try to go head-to-head with college football and the NFL, but I don’t think it’s going to turn out well, particularly given No. 1 on this list.

3. FIFA still doesn’t get it when it comes to women’s soccer. Progress on some fronts, perhaps. Plenty of countries give their women’s national team no support. Some are still banning or abusing lesbians. It’s time to hold these federations accountable rather than sitting back because you need their votes.

4. Clean your own house. That means, for example, letting the people who are trying to fix FIFA’s many issues do their jobs.

We can’t hold FIFA accountable for everything — the diving epidemic is an issue for referees and leagues. But you can’t simply expect the USA to make soccer bigger here because you say so. U.S. Soccer can only do so much, even if they’re doing everything right. (Again, they’re not, and we’re aware of that and trying to change.)

Some of this falls on you and your colleagues in Zurich.

Best of luck.

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