Sunday, June 19, 2011

Road to Brazil off to rough start

As hard as it is to believe, the road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has already begun.

This week marked the first qualification match, as Belize took on Montserrat. Belize is a tiny coastal nation in Central America popular among tourists. Montserrat is a Caribbean island that languishes in the bottom five of the FIFA world rankings, in large part because most of the island was devastated by a volcano in 1995 so they have more important things to worry about than soccer.

Belize won the match, 5-2, getting a hat trick from Deon MacCauly. It was played at a neutral site in Trinidad because Montserrat doesn't have a stadium that meets FIFA standards.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for controversy to strike. The second leg of the home-and-home series has been postponed after Belize's soccer federation and government couldn't see eye to eye.

After the FIFA embarrassment the last few months with bribery charges and the like, is it really that difficult to keep the seedy underbelly of the sport away from its grandest stage? Apparently it is.

Hopefully this can get resolved and we can get back to the games being the focus sooner rather than later.

It seems only 150 people attended this first qualification match. If I had the means, I personally would have enjoyed being there. Neutral site or not, lack of fans or not, there's nothing quite like that World Cup implication.

So while 2014 may be far down the road for pretty much all of us, in a sense it's really not.

- Chris Lillstrung


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