Fox Soccer pundits’ memories: a stretch “too tall”

Fox Sports & FS1
Fox Sports & FS1

Not all our soccer pundits agree on who or what is great in our sport—the greatest game, player, coach, tournament, team, and so on. But it does our sport a disservice when someone with an agenda and megaphone of a platform—say the only English-language broadcaster of this summer’s Copa America and Euro in the USA, i.e. Fox Sports—attempts to pass off verifiably inaccurate statements as historic truths.

Last night, during the Canada-Argentina Copa America 2024 semifinals FS1 broadcast, Argentina apologist Stuart Holden (he of the incessant Lionel Messi peans in the middle of any game the player participates in) regaled us with all the reasons why this mostly poorly played edition of the Copa was historic. In short, it was only one reason, the Albiceleste’s quest to sandwich a World Cup win (2022) between the 2021 and 2024 Copa America wins (four years of top-level showings, we were told). According to Holden’s partner, John Strong, Argentina was pursuing a holy grail that would make their current team the “greatest of all time.”

Let’s set aside the questionable “logic” behind playing five Copa America tournaments over a ten-year period (2015, 2016, 2019, 2021, and 2024), which CONMEBOL and FIFA now tell us are supposed to be quadrennial events. Hint, some team came up short in the first three. And let’s set aside the 2022 World Cup set-up of a winter tournament in, believe it, FC Barcelona financier Qatar’s home. Let’s also leave aside the skewed officiating of any game whenever Messi is on the pitch. Instead, let’s focus on soccer history, like Fox Sports should have.

Let’s go way back to 2008 and watch YouTube highlights of the Spanish National Team winning the 2008 Euro, 2010 World Cup, and 2012 Euro (five years of dominance). Let’s move a bit further back and set up the videos of the 1970s Dutch team led by Johan Cruyff who made the 1974 and 1978 World Cup finals (another five-year run) only to run into historically infamous host antics to be denied their back-to-back cups. Some of the Total Football masters’ matches are still used today as coaching aids.

In the early-to-mid 1950s (about six years) the Magical Magyars of Hungary dominated soccer, losing the 1954 World Cup to Germany after the host nation (sound familiar) criminally fouled Ferenc Puskas, the great Hungarian striker—in an encounter between the teams previous to the final—rendering him a limping and nearly ineffectual participant in that last match. Watch what was then dubbed “The Match of the Century” to see how ahead of their time the Magyars really were in 1953. What more modern teams over the ages does their playing remind you of?

In the period 1958-1970 (13 years) the Brazilian National Team won the 1958, 1962, and 1970 World Cups, only missing a win in the 1966 tournament due to such criminal homer officiating—resulting in the tourney-ending injury of someone many consider a lock for the real soccer GOAT—that FIFA (via the IFAB) was forced to establish the card system in misuse today.  

When thinking of the greatest teams, Strong and Holden could have simply searched the record books to find better options than their chosen one. One obvious team that might have stood out, since their network is covering the given nation in today’s Copa semifinal, is Uruguay. You see, the oldest international confederation trophy is Copa America (established 1916) and the Charruas had already won the then-yearly tourney four times before 1924. What was important about that year was that it was an Olympic year and one in which soccer was added to the international competition’s mix.

History tells us that prior to the first World Cup (1930) the Olympics provided the globe with its first measure of the top soccer team playing. Uruguay won the 1924 Olympic Gold Soccer Medal, followed by the 1928 Olympic Gold Soccer Medal, and then they followed that up by winning the 1930 World Cup. Over that period of time Uruguay also won the then-yearly Copa in 1924. Seven years of dominance during which they never lost a game at any of those tournaments.

Papa would argue we have plenty of other teams that could more readily be in the conversation of the greatest soccer teams ever and that putting this Albiceleste side into that talk is stretching them a step “too tall.”

TAGS— Stuart Holden, John Strong, Lionel Messi, Copa America 2024, FIFA World Cup, Fox Sports, FS1,

Shutterstock photo ID: 1756776596, by rafapress.

Keywords: Fox Sports, FS1,  

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