Again, the world is watching the World Cup • Brooklyn Paper

Again, the world is watching the World Cup

To the editor,

I trust soccer fans are enjoying The World Cup of Soccer, Russia 2018. Not only are we privileged to watch the top athletes of the world, but we can also observe the finesse of European soccer contrasted with the rough play of teams from other parts of the world. Of course, we are also subjected to the “pick-up style” soccer of low-rated countries. The tournament — good, bad or indifferent — is wonderful to watch, especially for those who play, or have played, the game.

One such low-level game was the opening-day match between host country Russia (ranked #64) at the time of selection and Saudi Arabia (ranked #53). It was a mistake-prone match that made some of us cringe; not that we could do better — even in our prime. Fans witnessed too many stray passes and too many players out of position resulting in shoddy coverage. Russia won 5-0, to the applause of the hometown crowd, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There were originally 16 teams in the tournament, expanded to 24 in 1982, 32 in 1998 and there will be 48 in 2026. Then-FIFA President Michel Platini stated: “The World cup is not based on the quality of teams because you don’t have the best 32 teams at the World Cup…It’s a political matter so why not have more Africans? The competition is to bring all the people of all the world. If you don’t give the possibility to participate, they don’t improve.” So sad that affirmative action is also evident in soccer. I loved Platini as a midfielder for Juventus and for the French National Team, but not so much as a FIFA politician. It is during this capacity that he was banned from soccer for ethics violations.

Even with its low ranking, Russia was chosen to host the games. Why Russia? Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter stated that there were bribes involved in the selection process. Blatter and other FIFA officials are currently serving bans from participating in “any FIFA activities due to bribery and money laundering.”

Let’s go back to team rankings at the time of the selection. Only 23 of the teams in the tournament were within the top 32-ranked teams; the rest are representations of areas of the world that FIFA wants in the tournament. I’m aware of the rules and thinking according to FIFA, but it lacks common sense. For example: Why should No. 64-ranked Russia participate, but not No. 9-ranked Chile?

The nine teams that should have been in the tournament (and their rankings) are Chile (9), Wales (13), Italy (17), Slovakia (19), USA (28), Northern Ireland (20), Ukraine (24), Turkey (27) and The Netherlands (29),

The nine teams that should not have been in the tournament are Russia (64), Panama (60), Morocco (56), Saudi Arabia (53), South Korea (51), Australia (50), Nigeria (44), Japan (40) and Senegal (33).

My original intent was to write an op-ed letter about the World Cup and stay away from writing about sleazy politicians, but I ended up writing about sleazy FIFA officials.

All things considered, however, Russia 2018 is not so bad, when compared to South Africa 2010, where the home team was ranked No. 119 and we had to endure the childish and annoying Vuvuzela horns. A corruption investigation revealed that FIFA officials received $10 million in bribes to award host nation honors to South Africa.

The next tournament will be in Qatar (currently ranked No. 98) that has a population of 2.7 million people — about the same as Brooklyn’s. In a country where the temperature during World Cup season ranges between 88°F to 107°F (about 31°C to 41°C) the government has already issued a dress code warning, especially to females, which in part, forbids sleeveless shirts and short pants. FIFA is considering playing Qatar 2022 during the winter, but that would interfere with legitimate soccer leagues such as the Premier League and Serie A. Good luck, paisano!Elio Valenti

Bay Ridge

Let’s seek peace

To the editor,

Dear Mr. Lobenstein, I just read your letter in last week’s Bay News, and do not understand how you can compare Donald Trump to Jesus Christ. Although President Trump may have had some success in improving the chances for world peace in his meeting with the North Koreans, if he continues to oppose cleaning up the Earth’s environment, there may be very few people left to enjoy world peace if it does come about.

From what I know of Christ, although I am Jewish, I do not believe he would ever have separated immigrant children from their families, nor locked up their families in refugee camps. Nor would he have sent immigrants back to their home countries to be killed or starved to death. I wonder, if Jesus were alive today and he tried to get into America to avoid persecution, would Donald Trump have sent him back to Israel to be crucified?

I think that Christians, Jews and people of other religions should oppose any actions of Trump and his supporters that put either citizens or immigrants in danger. The Jewish organizations that I belong to feel very strongly that, although we do not worship Jesus, we must believe in what he stands for, and we are all appalled by what our President is doing. People of all faiths are trying to help the immigrant children and families that Trump has pulled apart. I hope we all, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. will do everything we can to help improve life for all, citizens and non-citizens, and that, someday, we can all get along peacefully together.Elaine Kirsch


A call for change

To the editor,

On Tuesday June 26, 2918 we will be going to the polls to vote for candidates to run in November to represent us in Congress.

The one race that I have been watching, since it’s my Congressional District is NY CD-11 between current Congressman Dan Donovan and former Congressman Michael Grimm. Being a Democrat (I’ll be voting for Max Rose in the primary) I find it unbelievable that Michael Grimm, a convicted felon who was fired by the FBI, is leading Dan Donovan by 10 percent. Michael Grimm threatened to throw a reporter from NY1 News off the balcony of the House for asking him a question he didn’t like. He stole money from his workers at his Manhattan restaurant and kept two sets of books and days after being reelected, and after proclaiming his innocence, he pleaded guilty and went to prison for 7 months on felony charges. He was involved in an incident in a nightclub in Queens and blew his FBI cover when he got the NYPD involved. There are additional problems with his running for this position. If elected, Grimm, who represented this district for two terms, would be able to get a government pension after he completes his fifth year in Congress. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this man to have my tax dollars because I feel that he’s only running to complete that fifth year and be eligible for that pension. Additionally, because of his felony conviction, Congress may choose not to seat him and not allow him onto any committee to work on. Therefore, he would spend his time in Congress not allowed to help the residents of CD-11.

I also have a problems with current Congressman Dan Donovan in that he has refused to have a Town Hall with the voters in this District, has accepted the endorsement of Donald Trump, a man (as reported in the Washington Post) who has lied to the country over 3,000 times, is a racist and a bully.

As I stated, I am a Democrat and will be voting for the Democrat in both the primary and general election in November. Were I Republican I’d rather write in even my own name than give my vote to either of these men.Rosalie Caliendo


Editor’s note: On Tuesday, Dan Donovan defeated his opponent, a convicted felon.

Spare the children

To the editor,

When I see these small children being taken away from their mothers it just breaks my heart. What type of society have we now become? I don’t remember when the Pilgrims came to America, did the Indians take their children away and give them to other tribes? I don’t think so. So when we see the Statue of Liberty saying, ‘take in your tired, your hungry’ and so on it means nothing now. How many ethnic groups left their home countries to escape violence and religious persecution to contribute to society in America?

I wonder how the Trump supporters can support mothers having their children taken away and possibly never seeing them again. Is it that difficult to imagine the emotional trauma these children will suffer? Does your religion condone this type of lack of concern? When the word ‘alien’ is thrown around like these people are from outer space then where did the relatives of the trump supporters come from? The only true and real Americans are the “Native Americans.”John Snow

Brighton Beach

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