Sunday, May 17, 2015

World Cup '94 - The Future

Last year I came across a long lost video that previewed the 1994 World Cup that was to be hosted by the United States as well as launch a new domestic league. The video is VHS and it took me an afternoon to get it transferred into a digital format. Above is a poignant clip about that illustrates both how far behind the US was in the sport, as well as the massive ego the leaders of the sport had (and still have).
"In 1990 we competed in the World Cup for the first time in 40 years... In this World Cup I know that we will compete well. With pride and dignity. The next World Cup we will be competitive. And in the future, 2002 and beyond... It's ours. We have come to play and our boots are tied." - 1994, Hank Steinbrecher, Secretary General of the US Soccer Federation
Over the years (decades) the World Cup has become an odd measuring stick for the United States and the leaders of the sport therein. They seem to see it as the final frontier, of sorts. I'm sure that back in 1994 when Mr. Steinbrecher said that "2002 and beyond, it's ours," he really meant it. And it seams he's made a career of selling that type of message.

After my day of trying to digitize VHS video and put together this post, I looked Steinbrecher up to try and get a read on what he is doing and found a good piece from a couple years ago over at US Soccer Players where it seems he's learned the world is a big place and maybe, 21 years after saying "2002 and beyond, it's ours," he's altered his expectations a bit“ - 
To me it is to be in a position to win," he said. "You could ask some 200 other countries that same question. The real question is how did we play? Did the team represent the Nation well? I am proud of our players, proud of our coaches, proud of our fans and proud of our Federation."
I'm still digesting the preview tape. It's great. It touches on the history of the tournament as well as a few interviews with famous players. On the US side though, it all sounds very "best league in 2022" type stuff. It even covers how soccer is 2nd most popular sport in regards to youth. The video is only about 45 minutes long but it's a nice snapshot of where the US was before MLS got going. I've got it all digitized now and I'm hoping to get more up soon. Maybe.

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