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State Department Uses the World Cup to Improve U.S. Image

From the United States Mission to Germany:
A delegation of 30 young soccer players participating in the World Cup Sports Initiative organized by the U.S. State Department will travel to Germany June 21-23 to attend the FIFA World Cup match between Ghana and the United States and engage in program activities in Nuremberg and Frankfurt (Main). The boys and girls, ages 13-18, represent the following 13 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bolivia, China, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda, and Uzbekistan. U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes will join the young soccer players in Nuremberg to attend the Ghana-USA game on June 22.
The U.S. lost its last World Cup game against Ghana a few hours ago. The U.S. game against Italy ended in a draw, which has been a remarkable achievement. Before that game the Chicago Tribune wrote that one player of the US national soccer team made some stupid remarks that will not improve the US image:
Eddie Johnson says he sees similarities between his team and the soldiers he will be surrounded by when the United States stays in the Ramstein Air Base for Saturday's match against Italy in Kaiserslautern. "It's like us in the World Cup," the 22-year-old Johnson told reporters in Hamburg. "We're here for war. We came here to battle. We came here to represent our country. Whenever you put your jersey on and you look at your crest and the national anthem's going on, and you're playing against a different country, it's like you do or die, it's survival of the [fittest] over 90 minutes-plus."
Fortunately the German press -- which many consider biased against the U.S. -- did not use these unsportsmanlike and for the U.S. team untypical comments to reinforce Anti-American stereotypes, i.e. our media is not so bad. Unfortunately one Italian player apparently took those comments seriously and hit U.S. player Brian McBride and caused a "cascade of blood" to flow down his face. The Italian player was promptly set off by the referee. All other games have been much more fair and less violent.
The obviously wrong image in the U.S. of soccer being a girlie sport is declining, man's soccer is increasingly popular in the U.S., and large numbers of Americans traveled to Germany. J of Germany Doesn't Suck took the photograph below and kindly allowed the Atlantic Review to use it.

There is a slight difference in the official English World Cup theme A Time to Make Friends and the German version Die Welt zu Gast bei Freunden, which translates as "The World Is Visiting Friends", but both slogans turned out to be true. The World Cup is a peaceful, friendly mega party for millions of fans from around the world. There is much much less racism, violence, prostitution and sex trafficking than some Americans and others expected. Republican Congressman Christopher Smith's predictions turned out to be wrong. He should note that prostitutes complain about the lack of customers. Soccer fans are too busy celebrating. Let's hope that the next two weeks will be as successful as the first two and that we will continue to see more of the following joyful pictures, while not forgetting the refugees:
Creative Commons licensed pictures:

From: Adrian Christopher Koss

From: agu2000_de

From: Brendio

Check out J's blog Germany Doesn't Suck for his comments on life in Germany as an American expat in general and for more pictures from the World Cup in particular.

Despite all the partying, let us not forget the less fortunate. June 20th was World Refugee Day.

From: Boyznberry

UPDATE: US soccer player Eddie Johnson's comments apparently received more coverage in the U.S. than in Germany. The Nation writes about his bellicose postering mentioned above and opines:
More than half a century ago, Dwight Eisenhower famously said, "The true mission of American sports is to prepare young men for war." This is the undeniable downside of sports: the way teamwork, camaraderie and competition can be used to desensitize a population to the horrors of war. And it is particularly part of the sporting DNA of what Americans call football, where games are routinely referred to as "battles" or "wars," and NFL quarterbacks are "field generals" who throw bullet passes and bombs for the purpose of advancing on enemy territory. (...)
The World Cup has historically aimed to be a counterweight to the passions of war. But Johnson's comments are consistent with the militaristic spirit that some US fans have brought to the games. Without question, England, Poland, Germany and other teams have their share of fringe hooligans, some openly racist. But Team USA's most prominent fan club calls itself "Sam's Army." While the fan club explicitly rejects racism and soccer hooliganism, its website is replete with martial imagery and belligerent anthems.
Johnson's comments illuminate a crucial difference between how Americans and Europeans think about war--and sport. Europeans are not quite so blithe on these matters, having seen the continent decimated twice in the past century by war. It is not surprising that a number of Italian players were alternately bemused and repulsed by Johnson's war talk.
Other players in this tournament have painful contemporary reasons to think about war as something other than a game, particularly the impressive teams from the African continent. Ivory Coast has been wracked by civil war since 2002, and thousands of its 17 million citizens have perished. The Elephants, as the team is called, consists of players from all parts of the country, and is seen by many Ivorians as a unifying force.


At the Zoo on : Europe: "America, improve your image in our eyes or we won't like you."

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So, let’s add this up. American A says something Euro disapproves of, so he commits assault-and-battery on American B’ s face with a vicious elbow during the game. And WHO has damaged the image of their country? The AMERICAN! Not the EUROPEAN! I beg your pardon!

Atlantic Review on : Germany's National Holiday and the "Summer Dream" Documentary

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October 3rd is German Unity Day. It has been often said that there would be less Anti-Americanism in Germany, if Germans would be more patriotic. Anti-Americanism has been described as:inverted nationalism for people who think nationalism isn't cool. (thi

Atlantic Review on : America is expected to win the Super Bowl

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;-) Slate Magazine: According to my research, "football" is very popular among my fellow Americans. It sort of resembles chess, but with a lot more physical contact. Today is, like, the biggest day of the year for football enthusiasts.American


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J on :

Cheers for the mention, mate. The rest of my Ktown photos Can be found here. I wish I would have known about WRD. I definitely would have blogged about it. I promise to next year.

J on :

[url=] Second try for the rest of my Ktown Fanfest photos[/url]

Possum - At the Zoo on :

Let me see if I've got this straight. Some 13-to-18-year-old kid, in his clumsy way, says something Euros don't like, and he has damaged the image of of America, right? You have no sense of how ridiculous that is? Then I say that we send no more kids over there. That's too big a responsibility for them -- carrying the whole image of America on their back, so that if they say or do some dumb kiddish thing you Euros see a chance to throw one of your fits about, it becomes an international incident. What was the Italian kid's name? I wanna know it so I can plaster the story on the web and tell how he damaged the image of Europe. You named the American. Why didn't you name him? I thought violence was worse than talk. So, didn't he do much worse damage -- TO THE IMAGE OF EUROPE? That violent Italian kid gives us an image of Europe as violent, unable to control its temper, and so emotionally unstable they are liable to blow a gasket just because you said something Euros don't want you say. Not a good image of Europe. You Euros had better start repairing your image in our eyes, or we won't like you. So, be careful, if we're displeased with you, we may throw a fit. So, hop to it. Perform better from now on. We'll be watching and be sure to give you a judgement of yourselves. Seriously, there is nothing we can do about our image IN YOUR EYES. It's a work of art, created by you Euros. We can't possibly repair as fast as you vandalize it.

Mr Kennedy (Kennedy) on :

"The World Cup is a peaceful, friendly mega party for millions of fans from around the world." Then who the hell were those Germans and English rioting and fighting at the World Cup that I saw on my TV screen? Oh right. I was watching Fox News so obviously they made a phony tape that put the Euros in a bad light by showing the rampant violence at this year's - and other year's World Cups. Because we all know that Fox News is all lies, unlike the truthful state-run media that is so common in Europe.

JW on :

I think you are spot on in describing how credible Fox News is.

Joerg on :

Get your facts straight! The soccer player is not a "13-to-18-year-old kid", but an adult. I will take a break from responding to your uninformed and angry comments. [url=]I am still waiting for a serious response to my reply on your Gitmos comments. Don't run away. Explain to us, why you think that Murat Kurnaz should still be in Gitmo. Explain to us why you think he wants to murder you. Perhaps we should arresst you, because you obviously hate Europeans and liberal Americans and you might want to murder us as well.[/url] If a German soccer player had said these things abroad, he would be eaten alive by the German and international media. The US player wasn't. So be glad. Our media isn't as bad as you think it is. Of course, the Italian hurt his country's image, but this blog is not about Italy. Stop acting like a beleidigte Leberwurst. The closest translations is "Don't act like a prima donna", but that's not 100% it. Since you claim to be such a Europe expert, I am sure you can find out yourself this meaning.

Possum - At the Zoo on :

You got your reply to your last change of the subject on Murat. I said I don't know about his particular case and don't care. I find my government far more credible than those who assume the innocense of all these prisoners. And I suggested that the long negotiations with Germany over realeasing him to you may well be due to Germany's track record of setting free terrorists who murder Americans. Now, is there some other inmate at Gitmo you think I personally must be able to prove the guilt of before daring to suggest that my government has the right to hold him as as an enemby combatant? The same countries screaming are also the ones refusing to take their people back and screaming all the louder if the US gives them back to a country with a reputation for mistreating prisoners. Catch 22. You are the one running away. You continue that argument here. You keep changing the issue. You are resorting to ad hominem attacks.

Joerg on :

"I said I don't know about his particular case and don't care." Then don't comment on it. "I find my government far more credible than those who assume the innocense of all these prisoners" As I told you [url=]Some officials of some branches of your government consider many detainees innocent[/url], but you refuse to acknowledge that and you run around and start new attacks on perceived anti-Americanism everywhere, whenever your run out of arguments like at the Gitmo discussion.

Don on :

I thoght the subject was soccer, not Gitmo? I really love 'Miss Liberty' in the photo, the guy on the left. Wow. The US reaction to the World Cup may well help our image in Europe - as good sports. It helps in a way not to care too much about 'futbal'(sic). For most of the world this is deathly serious but not so for most of us Yanks. So it's just a big party for those kids - and unlike the Brits I'm pretty sure they didn't seek out Italian or Czech fans to incite into a fight......

ian on :

I don't know why people keep going on about Football, when there are far more important issues to be thinking about. Like Bruno the Bear, murdered by the German state.

Jabba the Tutt on :

"He should note that prostitutes complain about the lack of customers. Soccer fans are too busy celebrating." Everyone's in a great mood, they're probably getting it for free. Look for a mini-baby boom in 9 months. ;^)

bk on :

the name of the italian kid: daniele rossi. he lives in rom and looks like a german. blond with blue eyes, i'm serious! he didn't throw an ellbow because he heard about what eddie johnson said, but because he is a retard who gets red cards for stuff like that all the time. one more thing about fighting "soccer fans" from germnay poland engand and the netherlands: you can't really stop them and they are not interested in the game.they make appointments not even near the stadiums where they can do what they like, fighting. they use soccergames as plattforms so that they get some attention.

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