Team USA is 8 for 8, but Calmness Pursues as the USA goes for its Third World Championship

Team USA Men’s National Ice Hockey Team is having a World Championship to remember!

The 2023 edition of the IIHF’s premier event has seen Team USA enter the Semifinals with a record of 7-1-0-0 (22 points), or for you novice fans, a record of 7 wins and 1 overtime win, and 0 losses in overtime and regulation.

The USA enters the medal rounds in Finland’s third city, Tampere, as the favorites off of 2023 results, but not off of historical results.

If people have followed Team USA hockey, you are probably used to the Americans consistently showing signs of being the best nation, only to falter to an often more stacked Canadian, Russian, Swedish, or even Finish side.

Yet, this year, despite being at the annual disadvantage with their North American rivals of not having NHL stars still in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the USA has gotten to historic levels by defeating Sweden in Group A , 4-3 in Overtime, to win Group A, and just beat the Czech Republic 3-0 in the Quarterfinals to stay undefeated!

The rest of the games for the USA have mostly proven to be similar to the Czech game, with a 4-1 win over co-hosts Finland in Tampere, a 7-1 win over Hungary, a 3-2 win over Germany, a 4-1 win over Austria, a 3-0 win over Denmark, and a 9-0 win over France!

These wins have led to a resounding +29 goal differential and an overall 37 goals for to 8 goals against.

And with three wins over the traditional top six in international ice hockey (Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, USA, and Czech Republic), the USA are now once again the favorites to win gold!

But we have seen this story too many times, and this is one huge reason why the American ice hockey community is not getting too hyped for the semifinals.

If we look back to just the previous three major tournaments, we saw similar situations end in vast disappointment.

In the 2021 World Championship, the USA went through Group B with a 6-0-0-1 record and thus was the top seed for the Quarterfinals. While the Russian Olympic Committee (aka: Russia) looked most threatening, it was the relief of Canada looking very bad that warmed the Americans who often had struggled against their northern neighbors. In fact, in Group B, Team USA defeated Canada 5-1!

The Quarterfinal continued this American hegemonic trend as the USA defeated Slovakia 6-1. Yet, to the disappointment of Americans, the Canadians finally came alive defeating the Russian Olympic Committee 2-1 in Overtime.

The USA were thus re-bracketed to play Canada in the Semifinals, and the Canadians got the better of the Americans when it mattered most, winning 4-2. The Americans did win the bronze after defeating Germany 6-1, but it was not the gold Team USA was destined for.

In the 2022 Olympics, the USA closed out Group A with such an impressive record, that many pundits had them as the favorites to win the Olympic Gold Medal, let alone to get at the very least, a bronze. After all, the USA defeated the previous bronze and silver medalists at the Olympics in Canada and Germany respectively. While Finland and the Russian Olympic Committee looked to be the fiercest competitors, most Americans were not expecting any struggle against Slovakia.

Yet, with eyes focused on the future Semifinals, and the USA leading almost the whole second and third periods, the USA were heartbroken when Slovakia scored in the final minute of the third period to put the game into overtime, and then a second period overtime goal sent the Americans packing home. After a 3-0-0-0 start, Team USA were medal less.

The 2022 IIHF World Championship was really the outlier at first for the Americans, yet ended in the same type of disappointment.

The USA entered the Quarterfinal round without much expectation, as the USA barely squeaked by with a 3-2-0-2 record.

This led to a fourth place finish in Group B setting up a date with the hottest team in the tournament: Switzerland.

Yet, the USA defeated Switzerland 3-0! The USA now had confidence yet again.

American ice hockey fans were keen to watch their red, white, and blue in the medal rounds and felt their team was destined for that elusive third World Championship Gold!

However, the USA were crushed in the semifinals after losing 3-4 to hosts Finland, and even lost the third place game 4-8 to the Czech Republic.

This meant that the USA went to two straight major tournaments without medals.

These results represent a microcosm for one of the world’s most talented ice hockey nations, a nation which shares with its neighbor the richest and most popular ice hockey league in the world, the nation which hosts what many consider to be the best ice hockey teams in the world, yet also a nation which boasts immense underperformance at the national team level.

For Team USA, it is one of this continued underperformance that leaves most American ice hockey fans more suspicious than excited for what is to come against the likes of Germany on Saturday at 11:20 am (ET).

In fact, throughout history, the USA has just two World Championship Golds, and just two Olympic Golds in men’s ice hockey, a number that may seem impressive until you realize the World Championship is an annual event, and the Canadians boasts 27 of them, in addition to 9 Olympic Gold Medals, and one of those World Championship Gold Medals for Team USA is actually more of a technicality because the Olympic Gold Medal winner in 1960 also received the World Championship Gold.

The USA (2) may rank #3 all-rime in the Olympics behind Canada (9) and the USSR (7), but in the World Championship, the USA ranks behind Canada (27), the USSR (22), Sweden (11), Czechoslovakia (6), the Czech Republic (6), Russia (5), and Finland (4).

With 9 silver medals and 9 bronze medals, the Americans are not seeking any more medals besides gold this year, but that does not mean Team USA and their fans are not nervous and not lacking expectation.

A good English quote to describe this feelings is “It’s the hope that kills you.”

For Americans, they are too smart to hope for anything anymore when it comes to their national ice hockey team. Instead, Americans will just watch and cheer on their team to win their first World Championship Gold Medal since 1960 in Squaw Valley.

For those in the USA, the game times for the up-coming games are below:

Semifinal versus Germany: 11:20 am (ET) on NHL Network

Final: 1:20 pm (ET) on NHL Network


Monaco is now Part of European Basketball Elite too

Monaco has long been a sporting capital of Europe.

Monaco is world renown for autoracing with its Monaco Grand Prix in Formula 1, its Rally Monte-Carlo, and other events like the recent Monaco E-Prix for electric cars.

In fact, the Monaco Grand Prix is considered one of the three most important races to win as part of the autoracing Triple Crown that also features the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

(James Moy Photography)

Yet, Monaco’s sporting prowress does not end there.

Monaco’s Hercules Meet is an annual IAAF Diamond League meet for Track and Field, while equestrian fans will surely be familiar with the International Showjumping of Monte-Carlo competition that forms a part of the Longines Global Champions Tour.


And of course, just outside of Monaco is the French commune of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, which hosts the ATP Masters level tennis event called the Monte-Carlo Masters, just one level below a Grand Slam.

(ATP 1000)

These events, combined with the famed soccer team AS Monaco who play in French Ligue 1 provides Monaco with a constant display of top level sport.


And outside of the Monte-Carlo Masters in tennis, all of these take place within the 2.02 km² city-state making Monaco probably the most densely elite sporting host in the world.

Yet, in the last eight years, another sport has been slowly coming to garnish the attention of the playground for billionaires!

AS Monaco’s once famous basketball team that had finished runners-up in the French top division back in 1950, had gotten to the French Cup Final in 1983, and had played in European-level competition in the 1970s had just won back to back promotions from the third and second French divisions respectively to join LNB Pro A for the 2015-2016 season, their first appearance in the top level French basketball league since the 1980s.

Given all the events the Monegasque and Monacan people can attend, La Roca Team as the basketball department is called at AS Monaco knew they needed to find a way to rise up from under the shadows of their football department, a metaphor even more accurate once you realize that La Roca Team‘s Salle Gaston Médecin arena is located beneath the soccer team’s Stade Louis-II.

(Communication Department – ​​Manuel Vitali)

Immediately, AS Monaco was able to win the French league cup called the LNB Pro A Leaders Cup in 2016, 2017, and 2018!

(Monaco Tribune)

These trophies provided AS Monaco’s basketball department with their first top tier trophies ever, a farcry from their soccer team who has won 8 French Ligue 1 titles, 5 Coupe de France titles, 1 Coupe de La Ligue title, 4 Trophée des Champions titles, and got to the UEFA Champions League Final before losing finishing European runners-up in 2003-2004. In fact, it was during this first season back in the top level of French basketball play that AS Monaco’s football team won Ligue 1 and made it to the UEFA Champions League Semi-finals.

Still, these three Leaders Cup trophies thus introduced the people of Monaco to a new sport which could give the Principality glory: basketball.

La Roca Team was able to use this momentum to garner more achievements.

Their achievement in the 2015-2016 season allowed for the Roca Boys to compete in the third tier European wide competition called the Basketball Champions League where AS Monaco got third place, and the next season finished runners-up. This second season in the Basketball Champions League also saw AS Monaco regain their highest height in the French top division finishing runners-up.

AS Monaco’s European and French success saw La Roca Team earn a chance to compete in the European second tier EuroCup for the 2018-2019 season. Les Rouges et Blancs would not reach the medal rounds for the EuroCup that season, but once again found themselves as the French League runners-up.

The 2019-2020 season was supposed to be a season to remember, as AS Monaco found themselves in first place in LNB Pro A, but COVID-19 canceled the season. Still, AS Monaco was able to reach their best European result yet, a Quarter-final trip in the EuroCup.

The 2020-2021 season saw a drop off in French League form finishing fourth, but in European competition, AS Monaco Basket was finally able to win the EuroCup!

(© Communication Department / Manuel Vitali)

This brought AS Monaco into the top level of European club basketball, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague!

The 2021-2022 season thus was the first of elite European level basketball in the city-state and it did not disappoint.

AS Monaco finished the regular season at 15-13, making it to the playoffs and losing in the Quarter-finals to 3x European Champions Olympiacos. AS Monaco also finished second place in LNB Pro A once again.

This brings us to the current season for AS Monaco which so far has been historic!

Already, AS Monaco has secured first place in the LNB Pro A regular season with two games still left.

And, on 22 April 2023, AS Monaco won their first Coupe de France de Basket (French Cup) title!

(Monaco Life)

However, it has been La Roca Team‘s European performances that have seen AS Monaco Basket garnish the attention of the whole Principality and the world over!

After finishing 21-13, AS Monaco was able to earn a home court advantage for their Quarter-final matchup with Israel’s most historic club, Maccabi Tel Aviv, as Europe’s fourth best team.

The first four games saw both teams split 1-1 at home, for a 2-2 series tie. This set up a series deciding Game 5 in the Fontvieille district of Monaco at the newly refurbished Salle Gaston Médecin arena for Wednesday 11 May 2023.

And it was in front of Prince Albert II and a sold out crowd that AS Monaco scored another historic achievement, when AS Monaco defeated the 6x European Champions, Maccabi Tel Aviv, 3 games to 2 in the EuroLeague Quarter-finals, with a 97-86 victory!


This earned AS Monaco a trip to Europe’s marquee basketball event: the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four!

The event will take place on Friday 19 May for the Semi-final games and on Sunday 21 May for the 3rd Place game and the Final!

Žalgirio Arena in Kuanus, Lithuania will be the host as AS Monaco will play Olympiacos and FC Barcelona will play Real Madrid.

These games will be televised worldwide and many stars will be present in the crowd, including a possible appearance by Prince Albert II who hopes to visit Lithuania’s second city for the event.

A EuroLeague Champions trophy is fully the goal for AS Monaco Basket and an accomplishment of this magnitude will surely place basketball into the eternal memory of the people of Monaco for generations.

But already, this Final Four achievement has made basketball a mainstay of the Monaco’s sports calendar.

And, with AS Monaco being the expected champions of LNB Pro A for the playoffs, La Roca Team also has another potential historic achievement hanging in the balance and that is the chance at their first French championship later this year.

And for French club basketball, AS Monaco have also brought them up from under the shadows as the Roca Boys‘ 2023 Final Four achievement marks the first time a French league club has made Europe’s marquee event since 1997.

Perhaps the most famous American in Monaco had the greatest quote for the sport that calls his mother’s birth nation home: “In Monaco, there was football, and now there is also basketball” (Prince Albert II).

Surely, the Principality of Monaco is now part of the European Basketball Elite as their club gets ready for a historic matchup with the Greek Champions in Lithuania.

Rare and Deadly SMA Disease Strikes Toddler – Family needs Donations

A young boy by the name of Muhammed (Muhammet) Eymen Kaya in Erzurum, Turkey was diagnosed with SMA Type 1 in February 2023. As a result of this critical diagnosis, Muhammed has been receiving treatment in the Erzurum City Hospital, but in order to continue living, Muhammed will need to be treated in Dubai with a one-time gene therapy treatment, and this specialized treatment costs 2.1 million US Dollars!

The treatment uses the newly released drug called Zolgensma, which was developed in and approved in the USA in 2019. It is the most expensive life-saving drug.

As a consequence of its price, the rarity of SMA, and how new the approved treatment is, there are very few hospitals around the world that use this gene therapy, and as such, Al Jalila Children’s Hospital of Dubai is the hospital where Turkish children with SMA type 1 are treated since 2020.

Below, I have provided some very important links to help you understand what SMA is and the necessity of this treatment. It may seem excessive, but when you look through the links, you will understand that this treatment is a necessity. Below are the PayPal and Go Fund Me links if anyone wishes to donate. I have also provided those in the photo, which is translated into English below:

Governor’s Office

22-1495 Özlem Kaya

Fighting SMA Disease

Muhammed Eymen

Let your donations breathe

SMA is a muscle disease that results from gene deficiency and has fatal consequences.

Its treatment is possible with a drug called zolgensma.

Must travel soon to Dubai medicare hospital, with which we have an agreement for treatment. The treatment cost is $1,879,000.

The donations you make for Muhammed Eymen are collected in an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) which is under the permission of the governorship and under protection.

Bank account number: NL24 BUNQ 2068 7308 55

Receiver: SMA Kids

Statement: Muhammed Eymen (Muhammet Eymen)

SMA Kids Foundation

With the Support of Our Heroes


We are!

Governor’s Office

Target: $ 1,879,500 (US Dollars)

Collected: $ 939,750 (US Dollars)

Remaining: $ 939,750 (US Dollars)

T.C. Ziraat Bank: TR27 0001 0001 1260 9726 9650 06

Recipient: Özlem Kaya

Statement: Muhammed Eymen

Overseas Donation (BUNQ): NL24 BUNQ 2068 7308 55

Recipient: SMA Kids

Statement: Muhammed Eymen

Go Fund Me link:

What is SMA and what does it do to the young child with this deadly and painful disease?

SMA (Superior mesenteric artery) “[is] a digestive condition that occurs when the part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach is pinched by two arteries.” (University of Maryland Medical System –,is%20pinched%20by%20two%20arteries)

“Compression of the SMA against the AA can prevent duodenal contents from draining into the jejunum (upper small intestine) hence the inability to get proper nutrition leading to weight loss and malnutrition. Pain from the compression can be debilitating, causing “food fear” and aggravating the condition.” (National Organization for Rare Diseases –

“Children with type 1 have limited movement, can’t sit without support, and have trouble breathing, feeding, and swallowing. Symptoms begin at birth or within the first six months of life. Many children with type 1 do not live past age 2.” (Boston Children’s Hospital –’s%20sometimes%20called%20Werdnig%2DHoffmann,first%20six%20months%20of%20life.)

How rare is SMA?

Last year, a five year old Turkish child was written about in Al Jazeera news for his quest to receive Zolgensma at Al Jalila in Dubai. In that report, it noted how Turkey suffers from an increased rate of SMA type 1 occurrences that sees 1 in 6,000 Turkish children suffer from the disease, compared with 1 in 10,000 children globally. (

Does the gene therapy Zolgensma work?

Yes, it does work. I do not know the statistics myself, but I have read articles that detail the recovery of patients that have received this life-saving treatment. One of these articles you can listen to with the link provided. This audio link speaks of an Egyptian child from Dubai who received Zolgensma at Al Jalila Hospital last year. (

A further link below also provides information on the study completed in the approval process for the drug from 2019: (

Why does Muhammed need this treatment now?

Muhammed is currently less than two years old. This is crucial because the likelihood of survival decreases with every extra day not treated, and the target for doctors is to treat a child with any type of SMA, but especially Type 1, before the age of 2, or at the latest at 2. Now, of course, you can receive the treatment later as well, but again, it vastly decreases your likelihood of survival. Remember, most children with SMA Type 1 die before they reach 2 years old.

This is why early screening for SMA is so important for all children. If you or someone you know is having a child, make sure they are screened for SMA because the sooner you find out, the better for this potentially fatal disease. And, the screening process is quite easy and cheap, which is quite the opposite from the treatment. The link above with the article about the Egyptian child in Dubai goes into great detail about the screening process.

What has Erzurum done for Muhammed?

Now, I know what a lot of you are probably thinking, and that is why is Erzurum, Turkey, or some other entity closer connected to Muhammed not paying for this surgery?

Well, the simple answer to that question is that they are. But, due to high inflation of the Turkish Lira, the people of Erzurum are still seeking help from anywhere they can get to reach the 2.1 million US Dollar threshold they need.

For example, the Governor of the Erzurum Province has opened up a special bank account that allows people to deposit donations directly to Muhammed’s family.

Support groups have done SMS (messaging) campaigns, have held concerts, and have opened up bazaars with approval from both the provincial and municipal governments with the profits from the bazaar and concerts going directly to Muhammed’s treatment.

For this, both Risalettin (father) and Özlem (mother) Kaya are extremely thankful.

You can read more about the efforts in Erzurum with these two links: and

For further information, such as what is Zolgensma or why is it so expensive, a website called did a very good job answering both of these questions. Here are the links for those two answers: and

For links to Al Jalila Children’s Hospital of Dubai and its renowned Zolgesnma treatment, check out this link:

Here are some of the links for Muhammed’s Instagram:

And here is the SMS messaging donation link:

How to spell Muhammed’s name?

You may spell it Muhammet or Muhammed. It is written both ways.

An Easter Eve Miracle sees US Gaelic Football reach its Highest High thus far

The night before Christmas may have not had a creature stirring, but the night before Easter sure did in New York City as the New York GAA began their Connacht Senior Football Championship pursuit.

New York GAA Football Team 2023

The match pitted New York against Leitrim, with New York as the overwhelming underdogs having never won a Connacht Senior Football Championship game ever, while Leitrim had won two Connacht Provincial titles.

But, with the home field advantage at Gaelic Park, with opposition having to travel over 5 hours by flight and surely more by bus, with many time zones past as well, the New Yorkers felt they had a chance!

The Bronx was warring to see their favorite club team, the most historic in American Gaelic Football, take the field.

However, the packed crowed with only standing room and grass seating left would soon feel overwhelmed as Leitrim opened the match scoring the first three points, all frees to lead 0-3 (3) to 0-0 (0).

The traveling Leitrim supporters were happy to be given this early cushion of a lead because only five years prior, Leitrim barely scraped past New York via a one point extra-time win.

The largely pro-New Yorker crowed were not too happy to find their home side down, especially since five years ago New York started off up 1-4 (7) to 0-1 (1), only to lose because of Leitrim’s superior footballing prowress.

So, being down so early seemed like it could be a sign of worse to come.

Yet, New York is not known for giving up and former Dublin star, Shane Carthy, scored New York’s first on a left footed free to make it New York 0-1 (1) Leitrim 0-3 (3). Maybe a change in momentum was to come thought the fans from the Empire State?

And they got their answer three minutes later as both Peter Fox and Shane Brosnan would score frees to level the score at 0-3 (3) to 0-3 (3)!

New York was back!

However, football is football and Leitrim would garner back the advantage just two minutes later to go up 0-5 (5) to 0-3 (3).

Did no one want a goal?

New York would get one back from Mikey Brosnan (18′) on a free, before Leitrim scored again on a free (21′).

Perhaps, the most important play of the first half came on the defensive end when New York’s goalkeeper Mick Cunningham was able to come out to block a Keith Beirne (Leitrim) kick at goal (22′).

In the 24th minute, Daniel O’Sullivan (New York) got a free to bring it within one yet again!

The celebration did not last long as Leitrim put in a good opportunity for another goal that hit the outside netting.

In the 28th minute, former Cork footballer Mark Ellis (New York) was fouled leading to a 21m kick by Adrian Varley (New York) who scored for the home team to make it 0-6 (6) to 0-6 (6). The score was tied once again!

And finally, The Bronx would erupt with joy when their home side finally took the lead in the 33rd minute thanks to a Mark Ellis free.

New York would go into half-time up 0-7 (7) to 0-6 (6).

The 8,000 to 9,000 ruacus New Yorkers were keen for the second half as their beloved Exiles were seeking their first win in twenty-two tries, dating back all the way to 1999.

Leirtim would strike first in the second half with a free from Mark Plunkett (38′) before New York retook the lead only a minute later thanks to another free by Adrian Varley (New York leads 0-8 (8) to 0-7 (7)).

However, not all was good for New York.

The 40s proved to be Leitrim’s decade of minutes as they scored three unanswered frees (42′, 44′, and 46′) to make it Leitrim 0-10 (10) New York 0-8 (8).

Would the hosts be able to come back, or were the country with Irish NFL experience going to go back across the Atlantic with the chance to win Connacht and Ireland still in hand?

Luckily for New York, the 50s belonged to New York as the home team scored two frees unanswered (54′ and 55′) to notch the match back up, now at 0-10 (10) to 0-10 (10).

New York goalkeeper Mark Cunningham came up for a free attempt in the 58th minute and barely missed, but luckily for him, he got another chance at a free in the 60th minute and scored to put the hosts back up with New York leading 0-11 (11) to 0-10 (10).

Leitrim’s substitute Evan Sweeny was determined not to let New York win and he scored two frees back to back (61′ and 66′) to put the visitors back up by a single point!

New York headed into added time down by a single point, but seven minutes were added on!

New York would capitalize on this opportunity with a substitute free from New York’s Jack Reiley (70+3′) to nod things back up at 0-12 (12) to 0-12 (12)!

Yet, this joy was short lived for New York as the visitors retook the lead on another Keith Beirne free (70+5′).

New York headed into the final minute of added time needing at the very least, a free to extend the match!

And New York’s Shane Carthy did it! He scored a free to tie the match up at 0-13 (13) to 0-13 (13)! Never had the number 13 been so lucky for New York!

It was now extra-time!

Leitrim started the better in extra-time with another Evan Sweeney free to go up 0-14 (14) to 0-13 (13) in the second minute of extra-time.

Leitrim’s Oisín McLoughlin looked to score a sure match sealing goal, but once again, New York’s Mick Cunningham was there for a massive save in the sixth minute of extra-time.

This save kept New York within striking distance and New York’s Connell Ahearne would capitalize on a free in the ninth minute of extra-time to bring the score back level at 0-14 (14) to 0-14 (14)!

Then, in the second minute of added time in the first half of extra time, New York went up with another Connell Ahearne free to put New York up 0-15 (15) to 0-14 (14) at the extra-time half time!

Was it dejavu?

Unfortunately for the Big Apple, Keith Beirne was still out there for Leitrim and in the 13th minute of extra time, Keith Beirne would score a free to level things back up!

And that would be it for extra-time as New York and Leitrim would be tied at 0-15 (15) to 0-15 (15)!

A penalty kick shoot-out was next!

New York’s Tiernan Mathers headed to the spot and had his kick saved by Leitrim’s goalkeeper Nevin O’Donnell.

New York’s Mick Cunningham then saved the next kick to close out Round 1 of penalties at 0-0.

Killian Butler (New York) kicked a good kick next only for Nevin O’Donnell to save the shot with his feet!

Keith Beirne then went to the spot to face off against his new archnemis, Mick Cunningham, and Mick Cunningham would prove the better saving another shot at goal! Mick, Mick, hurray! Round 2 of spot kicks ended 0-0.

Next up was New York’s Niall Madine who decided that being on-target was most important as you cannot score if you kick your own ball away from goal. Therefore, Niall Madine kicked the ball with his right foot straight down the middle and scored to put New York up 1-0 in the penalty kick shoot-out! This was also the first goal of the match of any sort!

Leitrim’s Shane Quinn, however, was unable to heed the internal advice given to his opponent Niall as Shane missed the shot hitting the cross bar. New York led 1-0 in the penalty kick shoot-out after Round 3 of kicks.

New York’s Jack Reilly seemed to get the missing infection from Shane Quinn and kicked his chance wide.

Then, Leitrim’s Evan Sweeny hit his chance off the post, which kept New York up 1-0 after Round 4 of spot kicks!

This set-up what would be a story book ending!

22 year old and New York native, Mikey Brosnan, came to the spot with a chance to put his name in American Gaelic Football history, and the sport’s record books with a chance to send New York to the Connacht Senior Football Championship Semi-finals if he could score to win New York its first championship level match!

Mikey Brosnan kicked the ball with power to the top left of the goal net and scored past the outstretched arms of Nevin O’Donnell to win New York the penalty kick shoot-out 2-0, as well as win New York GAA their first Connacht Senior Football Championship match ever!

With this 0-15 (15) to 0-15 (15), 2-0 (P), victory for New York GAA, New York becomes the first county outside of Ireland and Great Britain to ever win a provincial championship match!

From RTE Football

New York GAA and London GAA (Great Britain) compete in the Connacht Province for the provincial senior football championships so they can attempt qualification at the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the most important Gaelic Football tournament! The Connacht Senior Football Championship is part of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

The other teams in the competition across all four provinces are Irish county teams, and thus for the purposes of GAA competition, New York GAA and London GAA are both county teams.

Earlier on Saturday, County Sligo were able to defeat London GAA 2-20 (26) to 0-12 (12) at McGovern Park in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

As such, New York GAA will play County Sligo next in the Connacht Senior Football Championship at Markievicz Park in County Sligo.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket will see County Galway face the winner of the County Mayo-County Roscommon match.

The bracket thus favors both New York and Sligo and should provide for a fun semi-final! Last year, both sides played to a thrilling 0-15 (15) to 1-16 (19) Sligo win at Gaelic Park in New York.

This New York win on Holy Saturday may not seem like a huge deal to the casual fan of Gaelic Football, but for New York, this win is huge.

Recently, New York has seen an uptick in participation numbers and with more and more domestic juniors and seniors coming through the ranks, a momentous win will do wonders for the sport in the Big Apple.

In the past, Irish exiles have dominated New York’s team and still do, but far less than they used to.

This was supposed to make New York’s chances at victory nearly impossible, but the Americans on New York’s team and in the New York competitions have proven to be at a worthy level and have actually elevated New York to never before seen heights!

Furthermore, as Gaelic Football looks to continue its social status as Ireland’s top football code against the likes of soccer and rugby union, it is the growth of the sport in the diaspora that can help push the sport into the wider lexicon of what it means to be Irish!

From RTE Football

Surely, with New York’s 400,000 plus Irish population, and the wider 36 million plus Irish-American population in the USA, Gaelic Football will once again be a topic of debate among many families seeing that their best county team has beaten an Irish county team in senior provincial championship level football.

The future for USA GAA now looks bright once again in football and with growing presence across the nation at all levels of the game including in the universities, we should see more New York victories. And possibly, like their London counterparts, we might see New York play NFL (Gaelic) in the near future.

As for now, most American Gaelic Football fans will be eager to circle the date of the County Sligo match once a date is announced.

The USA Qualifies for the final 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifier

With still one day to go in the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off, the USA have assured their chance to continue to compete for their first World Championship in cricket!

The USA found themselves in a precarious position after their second match where they lost to their North American rivals, the Canadians, by quite embarrassing circumstances for where the USA thought they were: 172 (47.3 overs) to 198 (49.4 overs)! The USA were trying to comeback batting second, but somehow 198 proved to be too many.

The USA followed this result up though, with a historic victory over the UAE where the UAE scored 279 runs from 9 outs and 50 overs, leaving the USA to think their chances at India 2023 were over! But, thanks to 18 year old Saiteja Mukkamalla and some other notable performances, the USA were able to complete their largest chase in limited overs cricket history and scored 281 runs from 5 outs and 49 overs!

Since the USA won their first match of the Qualifier Play-off 231/9 (50 overs) to 151 (41.4 overs), the USA were now 2-1 and possibly in the drivers seat to qualify if they could win their next two matches!

However, their next match was against Papua New Guinea (PNG), a nation that was very equal if not better than the USA in cricket.

Yet, so were the UAE and Namibia!

And, similar to the USA’s wins over the UAE and Namibia, the USA defeated PNG 235/7 to 118 (34.5 overs).

The USA had one last nation to conquer, with the USA sitting at a very healthy 3-1.

That nation was Jersey!

The USA came into this match as the favorites, but this was also the case with the USA-Canada match.

The USA batted first amassing 231 runs from 50 overs. The USA now needed to defend, and the USA found their elite level of play in bowler Ali Khan who was able to get a record 7 dismissals in 9.4 overs bowled with only 32 runs against!

He was in magnificent form and was able to hold the Jersey surge at only 206 runs in 47.4 overs. Ali Khan became the record holder in the number of wickets taken for any Team USA member in senior level play for cricket, while he also became the second-best wicket taker in a single-match for an associate member of the ICC in the ODI format after Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, although Afghanistan is now a full-member.

With the USA victory, the USA secured their advancement to the 2023 ICC Cricket World Qualifier which will pit 10 nations against each other for the final two spots at the October-November 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in India later this year. The USA has gotten this far many times, but has not made it this far since 2005!

The USA had suffered a period of three suspensions due to federation issues, and thus were relegated to the lower divisions of the sport that required the USA to compete in many level of qualifiers, and to become more exceptional at Twenty20 cricket as well.

The USA only became an associate member once again in 2019, and only secured ODI status later in 2019 in Namibia, where this 2023 Qualifier Play-off also has taken place.

The USA finished 4-1 and have won the round-robin group due to their head to head record with the UAE, who is guaranteed to finish second in the group due to their head to head records with Canada and Namibia, after Namibia defeated Canada today. The UAE is currently 3-1.

The Canadians close out their Qualifier Play-off with PNG, while the UAE will play Jersey before the Canada-PNG match to close out their Qualifier Play-off too.

The USA and the UAE will thus both move on to bowl off against 2019-2023 World Cup League Two ODI foes, Scotland, Oman, and Nepal who all finished ahead of them to qualify for the Qualifier without needing the extra Qualifier Play-off, as well as the the bottom five nations from the 2023 World Cup Super League ODI which we know will include the Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies, with either South Africa or Ireland potentially joining these nations to make up the final tenth team.

The event will take place in Zimbabwe from 18 June to 9 July later this year. The USA has yet to qualify for the Cricket World Cup in ODI form, but lately, news has been good coming from USA Cricket suggesting the (US) Americans can ride this momentum following their automatic qualification as co-hosts for the 2024 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup which was the USA’s first ever senior level qualification for any version of the ICC Cricket world championship events.

USA Cricket Steals Massive Win over the UAE

The United States of America (USA) achieved a fantastic chase over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday night, live from the United Ground in Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek.

The USA are competing in the 2023 Cricket World Cup (ODI) Qualifier Play-off with Canada, Namibia, the UAE, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and Jersey.

The top two nations from this group advance to the 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifier, where they will join eight other nations to battle for the last two qualifying spots for the 2023 Cricket World Cup in India this October and November.

The USA started off this group with a big 231-151 win over hosts Namibia on 26 March, but then suffered what felt like a humiliating defeat to Canada 172-198, with the (US) Americans failing to complete the chase.

Today, the USA found themselves down by an insurmountable deficit and if they could not get the job done against Canada with only 198 to beat, surely coming back down from 279 would be impossible, especially against the presumed superior UAE.

Heading into this tournament, Namibia was ranked 17, the USA, 18, the UAE, 19, and PNG, 20. Both Canada and Jersey fell out of the top 20. So, today’s match for the USA was supposed to be their second hardest after Namibia, and yet the USA found themselves at 1-1 needing a win!

The unlikely hero who saved the day was an 18 year old who batted more than a century!

Saiteja Mukkamalla scored 120 runs from 114 bowls to lead the way and was never outted.

29 year old, Monank Patel, also put up a very notable batting performance with 61 runs from 50 bowls.

You can find the scorecard here.

With both Saiteja Mukkamalla’s and Monank Patel’s efforts, the USA were able to secure a come from behind 281-279 win!

The USA now find themselves in third place behind Canada who is 2-0 and Namibia who is 2-1, as Namibia has a superior net run rate to the USA. The UAE sit in fourth place at 1-1, while PNG and Jersey are both 0-2.

The USA did well to only go through 49 overs and 5 outs to get to 281 runs, but also did poorly on defense to give up 279 runs and only achieve 9 outs. The USA needs to get more batters out to achieve a victory in their next match against PNG on 2 April.

You can catch the action live here on Willow TV’s website.

The USA will also play Jersey on 4 April to close out their Qualifier Play-off run and will hope to be in the top two so they can compete later this year for a spot at cricket’s main event this fall.

Some notable achievements were that this was the USA’s largest succesful (winning) chase in a limited overs cricket match ever and Saiteja Mukkamalla became the youngest player to ever score an ODI century for Team USA.

The 2023 WBC Proved Baseball Needs National Team Baseball to Succeed in the Modern Era

Baseball is at a turning point where it will either dwindle into irrelevance except with a smaller and smaller amount of dedicated fans, or it will increase into worldwide relevance that rivals many of the great global games that the world has come to love.

But, the world needs two things from baseball in order to achieve this: one, a home team to root for in the name of a national team, and two, meaningful games!

The World Baseball Classic provides both of these!

Contrary to popular belief, most sports struggle in most countries, but what does not struggle are the top leagues that often feature on TV, and the national teams that those nations root for.

For example, everyone knows that Croatia is a very good nation in soccer, but did you know that the Croatian league only averages around 2,000 to 3,000 fans a game? Yes, the Oakland A’s abysmal 2022 season attendance (787,902 total attendance) was more than the 2021-2022 top level league (500,227 total attendance) for the current third best nation in what many consider to be the world’s most popular sport. Yet, when you look at Croatia’s six home matches in 2021 and 2022 leading up to the World Cup in Qatar, Croatia got over 124,000 people! Yes, in just six home matches, Croatia got more than one-fifth the amount of people their top league attained in 180 matches!

And, you can look at tons of leagues around the world and find the same results and often times, even lower results for attendance.

Yet, what draws many people to sports like soccer, basketball, and others like cricket is the chance to play for their nation and to root for their nation!

In England for example, their domestic cricket leagues often have viewership that peaks at around 600,000 at most with over 1 million people watching occasionally for very big matches, while their viewership for the cricket world cup in both the Twenty20 format and the ODI format often reaches between 3 and 8 million people.

Similarly, in South African rugby (union), the top professional league championship there in 2022 saw 737,500 people watch the event in South Africa as the DHL Stormers (Cape Town) defeated the Vodacom Bulls (Pretoria) in the URC Grand Final. The DHL Stormers were the most watched team in 2022 with a total of over 7.2 million people watching all of their matches last URC season. These are the numbers for the reigning World Cup Champion of a nation with close to 60 million people! Yet, for the South African National Team, the Springboks had over 3.9 million people watching their World Cup Final against England in 2019. And throughout their seven games, they had well above the 7.2 million threshold of the DHL Stormers season in 2022 that included 21 games. And the 2022 URC was consider a massive improvement in viewership. A more staggering number is in Japan where Japan Rugby League One – Division One often stuggles for viewership, but at the World Cup in 2019, Japan as a whole amassed a cumulative viewership of 425 million people and Japan’s 28-21 win over Scotland that sent Japan to the Quarterfinals had a viewership of 54.8 million in Japan alone, making that game the most watched domestic rugby event ever!

These realities show how popular the national teams are in places like Croatia, England, South Africa, and Japan where their national teams regularly outperform their leagues, even with the sports being popular in these nations.

And, just like cricket in England, soccer in Croatian, and rugby (union) in South Africa and Japan greatly benefits from their national teams, baseball also does in most nations.

Now, the WBC since its beginning has proven to be a very big deal in many nations and with each new edition, it has usually gotten more popular.

For example, in Japan alone, the first World Baseball Classic had 60 million people watching Samurai Japan win 10-6 over Cuba in the Championship, a number more than any World Series game ever, and keep in mind this number was just the number of viewers in Japan!

2009 saw more international viewership especially when Japan made it back to the Championship game, this time to play rivals South Korea. In fact, that game still has the most attendance out of any WBC game at slightly over 54,000 people!

2013 saw the rise in the Caribbean Nations where crime started to decrease and blonde dye would run out, while viewership eclipsed many previous records across the Americas.

2017 saw viewership reach unparalleled numbers in the USA, as well as attendance grow to 973,669 people, and this is with remembering that two of the stadiums used in the first round held under 17,000 fans.

But, the 2023 edition has seen the most success yet!

Attendance from the first round reached a whopping 1,010,999 people, which is more than the Oakland A’s and Miami Marlins total 2022 season attendance! Viewership was up all over the world with 62% of Puerto Rican TVs focusing on their WBC matchup with the Dominican Republic, and all Japan games featuring ratings above 42! Japan and South Korea for example had 70 million people watching it, and again, we do not know how many more were streaming the game and what the viewership was outside of Japan.

The WBC Championship also amassed a viewership number in the USA higher than all other WBC games ever. The WBC Championship Game got over an estimated 6.5 million viewers across TVs and streaming in the USA, a number that was over half the amount of viewers for the average of the 2022 World Series with over three million more than the average viewership for the 2022 Wild Card Round Games. The numbers were over one million more than that of the average for the NL Championship Series and almost two million more than the average for the AL Championship Series. As for the the rest of the tournament, the numbers in the USA for the national team have been averaging a rating simular to the Wild Card Series Round. Even more striking was the fact that Japan and Mexico had high viewership numbers in the USA too for their Semifinal. And it must be remembered that most of the tournament was on FS1 and FS2, channels that usually see an average of 300,000 people watch.

But, something more amazing was in-store for the World Baseball Classic in 2023, and that was the importance it played for important people such as players and the press in many areas.

We had seen previous editions of the World Baseball Classic immense the highest levels of a nation such as when former Panama’s President Martín Torrijos told MLB veteran Carlos Ruiz to play in 2009.

But, this edition was even more widespread for these stories.

Let us take Mexico where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador not only was able to get Cuban-born Randy Arozarena Mexican citizenship back in 2022, but furthermore has been getting people across the country to watch the national team via social media and press conferences. He has also been investing into the sport since he took over so that more kids make it to Major League Baseball and the Mexican top summer and winter leagues with new baseball academies being built around the country. Mexico’s success to third place took the country by storm with baseball dominating the front pages of almost all the major Mexican sports media, including on the day that famed Mexican soccer star, “Chucky” Lozano, took SSC Napoli to the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals. This has created a wider spread conversation about how the Mexican media needs to highlight other sports more like baseball, taekwondo, basketball, and American football to name just four sports where Mexico also does well in. In addition, Randy Arozarena’s celebration became widespread across the country which contributed to baseball’s new fame.

The Bahamas and Great Britain were other nations where baseball has taken off, at least on a relative level in Great Britain. The British National Team was unique in including many baseball players from The Bahamas who decided to represent their parents’ former nation as Great Britain was much higher ranked and thus had a chance to qualify and did. And so naturally, The Bahamas got the WBC fever as a lot of the Bahamian sports media were focused on the British National Team for the four days it played, and basked in their glory when Great Britain upset Colombia 7-5 to win their first WBC game and to earn an automatic qualification to the 2026 WBC! While baseball has been a top sport in The Bahamas for awhile, with prominent Bahamians like Prime Minister Philip Davis being a huge baseball fan, it has suffered in that there is no Bahamian League for adults. But, the WBC has now encouraged The Bahamas to restart an adult league that may become professional in the future. This comes at a time when The Bahamas has built a new 5,000 seat national baseball stadium up to Major League standards in the capital Nassau that opened in December of 2022. In Great Britain itself, baseball featured on the front pages of online news like BBC Sport and even featured in class rooms across England. The British crowning and knighting for a home run celebration became big there too!

The Czech Republic became a baseball nation too for their four days in the competition, and when Japanese star Shohei Ohtani wore the Czech National Team hat while traveling to the WBC Semifinals with Japan, the Czech National Team hats sold out! In fact, 240,000 Czechs watched their national team take on Japan in Pool B making this the most watched baseball game in Czech Republic history.

Despite South Korea’s disappointing exit in the group stage, South Korea also saw a rise in their WBC viewership with the South Korea-Japan Pool B game having the most estimated viewers in South Korea for a WBC game since the 2009 South Korean-Japanese Championship Game.

In Chinese Taipei, viewership was way up and attendance numbers for the games in Taichung were quite impressive for a nation with far less people than the USA and Japan, the other nations who hosted the tournament.

While the numbers everywhere are not in yet, what we also know is that when you include the Quarterfinal, Semifinal, and Championship, the attendance rose to a record 1,306,414, a number more than the Cleveland Guardians, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Maimi Marlins, and Oakland A’s 2022 season attendance. And there were only 47 games in this year’s WBC.

The attendance and viewership across the world has been fun to see, but the respect given to the WBC has been almost equally as important for the WBC.

In the US, and a few other nations mainly Canada, the WBC was often seen as an exhibition by the big personalities in the media because MLB owners would make it very difficult for their players to play and other players would just opt out, and this mainly happened for Team USA.

This affected the publicization and advertising for the WBC that other competitions get when talked about on leading shows and written about in major publications and it also affected its legitimacy.

See, baseball already had a World Cup and was even is in the Olympics from time to time, but these tournaments were never treated as a true World Championship by many, especially in the USA, because MLB players could never participate either because of the International Baseball Federation’s rules (now World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC)), or Major League Baseball’s own rules. So, if the best do not play, how can you give a title for the best nation?

The World Baseball Classic was meant to change that and despite it allowing MLB players, and despite most nations including most of their best players, including Team USA such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey Jr. playing, there were still murmurs that this could not be a true World Championship.

The 2017 WBC mostly changed that because Team USA won, and thus more people grew to like the tournament in the USA, and there also was no longer a need for excuses as to why the USA was not winning.

But, those murmurs still existed, especially among the large voices in the (US) American and Canadian media. And, one of the go-to reasonings was where is Mike Trout?

So, when Mike Trout decided to lead Team USA this year, it already eliminated some of the remaining murmurs. The star batting of Team USA including most of the best players from the USA, and thus the only place to go was to the pitching and managing of the USA, and the other teams.

Yet, after seeing the talent of the other nations, and seeing the importance of the event in places like Japan, the Republic of China (Taiwan/Chinese Taipei), Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and others, it became apparent to many this year that the WBC was no joke.

The fact that every Japanese game saw over 40% of their nation watching their national team games, even with their 8 am matchups with Team Mexico and Team USA, was a testament to how important this tournament is.

There are of course still murmurs, but they keep getting fewer and fewer.

A big reason has been the overall support of the WBC by the players themselves. Mike Trout stated how the WBC was “the funnest experience” he has had on a baseball field, and five of six (R) Dominican players said how winning the WBC was more important than the World Series when asked in an inrerview. When asked after the WBC Championship, Shohei Ohtani said “[t]his was the best moment of [his] life.”

When people who are the best players in the world and others who have won a World Series are telling you how important the WBC is, you realize really how important it is.

This messaging was received by many in the (US) American and Canadian sports media, and on the day of the Championship game, all the talk was of the USA versus Japan Final!

No one could have foreseen either that the final at bat would come with Shohei Ohtani pitching against Mike Trout with Japan leading 3-2, but it did.

This moment solidified the WBC and showed that this really was the World Championship, this truly was the tournament for the best in the world!

On Wednesday, the sports shows from Fox Sports 1 to ESPN all featured post-game talk about the WBC Championship. Those part of the murmuring were quickly silenced such as when Stephen A. Smith silenced Chris Russo on First Take. Undisputed was all over the game with Shannon Sharpe claiming Shohei Ohtani is better than “Babe” Ruth as he struck out three MVPs to win the game. In the meantime, Skip Bayless brought up how it is true many (US) American pitchers were not there, but how the game mattered to “us”, to the USA. They both went on to analyze how amazing the last at bat was because it included the best players. And Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless both agreed how the USA had a lineup better than any and still Japan beat the USA, thus giving their approval to this World Championship too.

Respect was not just way up, but so was revenue. In all three locations where the World Baseball Classic was held, we saw revenues in the high millions, with the WBC itself seeing a revenue of anywhere between 90 to 100 million (US) Dollars.

Yet, how does baseball capitalize on this globalization of the sport?

How does baseball continue to play a role in our lives?

What we have seen from other sports is an expansion of national team competitions.

In some sports, this is mainly done through continental competitions such as in soccer, whereas in sports like cricket, it is primarily done via worldwide competitions. Some sports do both.

Luckily, baseball already has one to two other worldwide competitions they can immideately make into major competitions with the MLB’s blessing.

In November, held in between the Olympics and WBC is the WBSC Premier12, a competition that pits the best 12 ranked baseball nations in a competition that is not meant to be the world championship, but simply another competitive world tournament to get the people interested and attached to their teams. While all leagues are allowed to compete like the WBC, and while it is held in the MLB off-season, the MLB is yet to allow their players to play in it. However, if the MLB did allow their players to play in the Premier12, this would create more attachment and more fans for the national teams and thus create more baseball fans. The next event is likely to be held in 2025.

Then, MLB may be smart to explore the Olympics and including having their players there. Bryce Harper talked about how he wished the MLB would follow the past decisions of the NHL which led to a break in the NHL season for the Winter Olympics once every four years. Similarly, Bryce Harper wants a break in the MLB season for the Summer Olympics. This would add another tournament for national team fans to get behind, thus increasing the amount of baseball fans. Furthermore, inclusion into the Olympics leads to greater funding for national baseball federations around the world, thus increasing baseball’s popularity. But, without the MLB players, Olympic organizers are less keen on keeping baseball in the Olympics hence its limbo position where it was included in 2020, but not in 2024.

Lastly, qualifiers need to allow MLB stars on them, and more nations need to be involved in qualifiers. Right now, there are twelve teams involved in qualifiers directly, and then indirectly, the continental tournaments are supposed to allow for teams to earn their way to these direct qualifiers, but it is not clear they really do. Furthermore, many of these continental tournaments and qualifiers take place during the MLB season, thus once again relegating their importance, and hurting the nations who like baseball the most and thus have MLB players, yet are not in the Top 16 to be automatically qualified for the WBC.

Of course, player safety and the interests of the owners of various teams around the world need to be included, so maybe only one of these ideas is implemented, but a calendar that includes national team baseball in November and March would be really good in growing the sport, as would be more qualifiers to allow more nations the opportunities to prove their nation on the field.

The more nations involved means the more popular the sport and the more fans of the game.

And, due to the scarcity of games for each nation over a four year cycle, it would create an atmosphere of meaningfulness or urgency, which is what Colin Cowherd stated provides for the highest ratings in baseball such as with MLB playoff baseball, the College World Series, and Little League World Series.

Therefore, an international schedule from 2023 to 2030 would be smart to look like this:

November 2023: Initial Qualifiers/Continental Championship

November 2024: Initial Qualifiers/Continental Championship and WBSC Premier12

November 2025: Final WBC Qualifiers

March 2026: WBC

November 2026: Initial Qualifiers/Continental Championship

November 2027: Initial Qualifiers/Continental Championship and WBSCPremier12

July-August 2028: Olympics

November 2028: Initial Qualifiers/Continental Championship

November 2029: Final Qualifiers for WBC

March 2030: WBC

Edwin Díaz’s Injury had nothing to do with the WBC, stop acting like it does!

After another historic day in the fifth edition of baseball’s world championship, there appears to be a force of MLB fans and commentators who are now signaling caution because Puerto Rico and New York Mets Edwin Díaz was injured after a celebration after their win over the Dominican Republic.

But, as a baseball community that includes even those that dislike the WBC for some odd reason, we must be smarter to not play into these very dumb narratives by people who make their money being loud mouths and jerks on TV and in the media.

It is nothing against these personalities as they are often very entertaining to watch, and when they are talking about an issue that does not really matter, it can be quite fun.

But, when these voices start talking about things that could have disastrous impacts for the future of a sport, we must raise caution and engage in actual intelligent debate.

We must realize that these people create revenue by shock value.

So, when people such as those at Bar Stool Sports or ESPN suggest that players should not be allowed in the WBC because of this injury, we must ask the question too if they believe that MLB players should not be able to celebrate after an MLB game, at a birthday party, buying a house, at church, at the car dealership, in the hotel, etcetera.

It is one thing if the pitcher in question got injured doing something unique to the WBC, but he did not.

They act like the WBC put out an artificial mountain slope and made the players ski down a hill. Do they not realize that tons of players have been injured at Spring Training?

I understand it is unfortunate as a Mets fan to lose a key player, but you have to understand the long-term plan of this event. Baseball cannot grow unless it creates new fans and it simply cannot be done to the amount it needs to if it is only the MLB that is on TV.

Baseball struggles for relevance because it is often irrelevant. This is nothing against the sport at all, and actually, I quite like it and I hope it does not change. Let me explain.

With globalization, we now have access to all sorts of sports including our own. And, if you like sports, you will often have the opportunity to watch a FIFA World Cup or continental qualifier in soccer in the summer that only includes like 10 games, the NFL in the fall that only includes like 17 games, the NCAA Tournament in the early spring where every game is vitally important, the NBA and NHL playoffs in the late spring and early summer, as well as the ending to the top soccer leagues around the world, and this is only scratching the surface.

The point is, all of these other events are far more relevant than a random Rockies versus Dodgers game in mid-June that is likely to have zero impact on the season!

And then, when the MLB does become very relevant at the end of the season and in the playoffs, you have football! I mean, how can you not watch college football where every game is basically a knockout game and the NFL which again, has 17 games?

And think about other nations and other hemispheres? If you are in Europe for example, it is already tough enough to watch sports from the Americas, but then you are going to get up or stay up late to watch the Angels play the A’s for the third time that week?

But, once every four years, or three years or six years depending on the context, the World Baseball Classic comes around and tears this thinking to shreds.

All of a sudden, not only does baseball become more relevant than the other professional sports, but it becomes even more relevant than the NCAA Tournament because this is for your nation and instead of happening every year, it happens again, once every four years!

But, it is these pundits that hold back the tournament’s potential in the US, and now are threatening the tournament’s future with horrible takes.

Already, these pundits are overly disrespectful by pretending that this is an exhibition tournament or by pretending that if the USA does not win, that somehow that is because their “best players did not go”, even when you have an actual country where almost their whole A-team has not been allowed to play for them just south of the US (Have these pundits heard of Cuba?).

If people truly love baseball, they should want the sport to reach the highest popularity it can. They should want to visit São Paulo and Lagos, and see professional baseball there like you see professional basketball and soccer.

But these people do not care about the growth of baseball. They care more about making a hot take, than about the fact that this tournament has introduced baseball to school children in England. They care more about looking cool and edgy, than the fact that on almost every major newspaper in Mexico, baseball was number one on the sports page on a day that famed Mexican Chucky Lozano helped SSC Napoli reach historic territory in the UEFA Champions League. Simply put, they care more about their MLB team than about baseball itself!

And, if they succeed with their goals, whether they actually want them or are doing it for show, they will display exactly why baseball has failed to grow to its potential while sports like soccer and even cricket keep creeping higher.

For example, baseball is far popular in Japan and South Korea than soccer, but in soccer, fans of Japan and South Korea get to see their nations’ A team compete more than once or twice every four years so of course that is going to have an impact on the standing of soccer against baseball in the country. But still, despite these facts, the World Baseball Classic provides just enough opportunity for national pride that these two nations continue to be baseball first nations, especially Japan.

Or take Mexico where baseball is the most popular sport in much of the north of the country. Do you think it can continue to be if all of a sudden their favorite team, Mexico, stops playing in top level competition?

There is a major reason why Panama is now arguably a soccer nation and that is because top level baseball did not exist for Panama until 2006 and did not exist from 2010-2022.

And look at the Philippines! Did you know the Philippines used to be a baseball and basketball nation, but now it is really only a basketball nation. Baseball lost a country of 100 million people simply because of neglect, and yet they still neglect the Philippines to this day, a country that has embraced soccer as of late due to the success of their women’s soccer national team.

What we need is more international baseball with national teams and not less!

And we need more with MLB players allowed.

Imagine if the WBSC Premier12 had MLB players, and if the continental championships as well as the qualifiers for the WBC were in a month MLB players could compete?

Or imagine if the Olympics allowed MLB players as well?

This would add even more examples of baseball when it is extremely relevant, and it would give more nations a chance at winning a top level competition.

The truth is, these nations get more pride and care about baseball more when they know it is a legitimate tournament with MLB and Nippon League players available.

And, the USA does too as well as Canadians. And they really would care more if their sports media actually marketed these competitions for what they truly are!

As it is, on ESPN and TSN, the WBC has been the #1 or #2 story for a lot of the night and early morning, even with the the NCAA Tournament starting on Thursday.

It might be true that an embrace of more international competition could lead to less of a monopoly on the world market for the MLB, but it would also create more opportunity for baseball players. Take for example The Bahamas and Great Britain who are both keen on creating professional leagues following the success of Team GB and its Bahamians this last WBC.

Or take for example the fact that because there is only one competition where baseball includes the top MLB players, this means it is extremely tough for countries like Brazil to invest in baseball when they actually have really good players?

Or what about nations like Peru who surely could become good at baseball, if given more opportunities to play top level baseball?

This is why the World Baseball Classic is so important because it allows just enough international baseball to expand the sport across the globe.

So, if you want to live in a world with more baseball, give the world more baseball and do not take our world cup away!

I can tell you this, if the Detroit Tigers were playing the New York Mets at 6 am, I would not be watching, but Italy against Japan in the Tokyo Dome with Super Mario themed Italian fans, of course I am going to be watching. It is exciting.

As to the irrelevance of the 162-game MLB season, it is an exaggeration, but it is also good. The reason it is an exaggeration is because first off, the MLB averages an insane amount of people to each game that rivals the top leagues in any sport outside of the NFL, and the total MLB attendance is second to none by quite away followed by the Nippon League! So, it is inappropriate to call it irrelevant. And, it is good because it allows more people to be able to afford to go to these games because the quantity is so high. With inflation, I can honestly say baseball is a God-sent and being able to turn it on TV every night is an amazing gift that like our families, we often take for granted. But, it is true that most people tune the MLB out until the playoffs or towards the end of the season, minus maybe a week to week update.

And, so, the World Baseball Classic does not only allow baseball to grow overseas, but also to grow in the USA and Canada that already have Major League level baseball, because the more people that get to watch high-stakes baseball in March, the more likely there will be more people watching lower-stakes baseball in July. After all, it is still baseball, and it is very exciting.

In the end, Italy played in a World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal and got a call out by a famous singer from there, and an Italian-born player got a 9th inning hit. The Italians might have lost 3-9, but against Japan in the Tokyo Dome and in the Quarterfinals, one can only say that baseball is likely to continue to grow in Italy too.

Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here

It was never supposed to be!

South Sudan at a World Cup?


There is no way!

We are talking about a nation that has gone through over 68 years of continued warfare!

A nation with over two million people dead from war, with even more displaced people including more than two million refugees!

We are talking about a poor nation with starvation and drought, a nation divided, and a nation lacking financial resources!

And, to make matters more unlikely, we are talking about a new nation barely over a decade old!

So, how can it be possible that South Sudan qualifies for the Basketball World Cup against the likes of much bigger nations like Egypt, Senegal, DR Congo, Tunisia, and Cameroon?

Well, if you are asking that question, you must not be familiar with the role basketball plays in South Sudan!


As you can tell from the intro, South Sudan is a country ravaged by warfare.

Both Sudans sit in a region of the world that is very ancient. It was home to what many people have called Nubia and Kush over the years and it became known for pyramids like Egypt!

Both Sudans became Christian nations in the 500s, and held onto their Christian Oriental Orthodox religion while nations like Egypt became conquered by the Muslims and Arabs.

In the 1500s though, both Sudans went through sudden transformation. 

Northern Sudan saw an Arab and Muslim conquer that changed the Sudanese people for the rest of time, thus far. And northern Sudan also became a majority Islamic nation. While northern Sudanese were always much lighter in their skin tones, resembling most Egyptians, the Arab admixture added an extra layer of lighter skin.

Southern Sudan, meanwhile, saw an influx of Sub-Saharan Africans (Blacks) of mostly the Nilotic ethnic group during the 1500s. While southern Sudan had always featured dark skinned people, this migration further solidified the already existant phenotypic divide between both Sudans. These new Sudanese had their own indigenous beliefs they brought with them, making this region mostly of these faiths.

Therefore, Sudan would be no longer Chrisitan, and the divide between the people became wider.

However, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Sudan became conquered by Egypt and the United Kingdom alike. 

The Egyptians made sure the north stayed Arab and Muslim, spreading Arabic even more. The British, meanwhile, re-introduced the south to Christianity by bringing in Western Christian missionaries. The British also promoted the English language and soon, southern Sudan became home to mostly Catholic and Anglican Black English speakers while the north became almost universally Muslim Arabs speaking Arabic. 

Thus, when Sudan became independent in 1956, there already was a Civil War between the two going on. The north promised to give the south autonomy and power-sharing in order to incorporate both Sudans into one, but the north reneged on this agreement extending the First Civil War to 1972. The Second Civil War started in 1983 and continued to 2005. But, during, in between, and after these wars, wars between the north and the south, as well as war with terrorist and rebel groups pursued, on top of the ethnic violence present especially in the south.

Luckily, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed onto in 2005 that gave the south autonomy and the right to hold a referendum. When South Sudan did in 2011, the South Sudanese people voted 98% to become independent, making South Sudan the newest UN-member state. 

Despite this accomplishment, war with the north, with others like Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, war with a rebel group, and ethnic violence has continued to plague the nation. 

Sporting Prowress

During this era of warfare, South Sudanese people began to dominate basketball overseas. 

The Nilotic peoples that make up a majority of South Sudan are among the tallest people on average in the world.

Notable basketball stars became known throughout the world like the NBA’s tallest player ever, Manute Bol (played in the NBA from 1985-1995).

Other players also came to dominate the NBA like Luol Deng (played in the NBA from 2004-2019) who was a 2x NBA All-star.

And plenty of South Sudanese people dominated in elite leagues outside of the NBA.

Yet, despite having potentially one of the most talented national teams, South Sudan did not exist as a national team until recently and thus, these players either played for no nation or chose another such as one they moved to. 

For example, Luol Deng became Great Britain’s best basketball player. 

While Luol Deng is retired now, other South Sudanese basketball players play for other nations to this day such as Thon Maker, Deng Adel, and Mangok Mathiang, who have all played in the NBA and currently represent Australia. 

Therefore, it became evident to many that South Sudan could succeed in basketball one day, but only if they put together a national team.

South Sudan National Team begins play:

Right away, South Sudan created a team and played the Ugandan League Champions in 2011, losing only by two points, 84-86. 

This loss was considered good because while South Sudan were expected to become very good one day by its people, no one expected it to be soon because the generations old enough to play at the professional level were already playing for other national teams as mentioned before. Furthermore, South Sudan was not yet a FIBA member nation and thus they had to wait to become members before they could enter into international competition. This lack of recognition kept these early South Sudan National Teams not able to compete at their highest levels as it was very difficult to recruit the diaspora when there was no chance to play in any major competitions. 

In 2012, South Sudan joined FIFA (soccer), and finally, in 2013, South Sudan became a FIBA member.

Now South Sudan was elgible for international competitions. 

Unfortantely though, South Sudan had to miss the 2014 Basketball World Cup in Spain as qualifiers had already started before they were even allowed to compete in FIBA competitions. 

Therefore, their first crack at basketball glory would be for the 2019 Basketball World Cup in PR China.

South Sudan begins FIBA play:

The road to Beijing started in 2017 in Cairo, Egypt where South Sudan, Rwanda, Egypt, and Kenya battled to qualify for the last 16 of both AfroBasket (Africa’s championship) and World Cup Qualifying for Africa. 

South Sudan would lose their first game to Egypt, and then defeated Kenya 68-66. This set up must win game with Rwanda, but South Sudan fell short!

South Sudan would have to wait for the 2023 World Cup. 

With this came many changes, and Luol Deng became the South Sudan Basketball Federation President in 2019. 

South Sudan’s 2023 run (thus far):

In 2020, South Sudan began their quest to qualify for their first World Cup and first AfroBasket, for the second time.

South Sudan entered a group featuring Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Eritrea, and Burundi, defeating all the nations by quite a lot, except Kenya, their sole loss. This 4-1 record kept South Sudan from advancing, but South Sudan got another chance in an extra pre-qualifier.

In the next round, South Sudan played in a group with Cape Verde and Chad, but once again, South Sudan finished in second with one loss, this time to Cape Verde, as South Sudan defeated Chad by quite a lot.

South Sudan was supposed to be eliminated, but then something happened with Algeria as they were unable to play in the next round.

South Sudan was next in-line and thus their World Cup and AfroBasket hopes continued.

In November of 2020 and February of 2021, South Sudan battled with Nigeria, Mali, and Rwanda. South Sudan finished 3-3 in this group with 2 losses to Nigeria and a loss to Rwanda, but also a win over Rwanda and 2 wins over Mali, finishing second in the group.

South Sudan was now qualified for their first major tournament, AfroBasket 2021. And, with this achievement, Luol Deng and the South Sudan Basketball Federation recruited Royal Ivey, a long-time NBA player and current Brooklyn Nets assistant coach as their head coach. Things were looking up for a revamped South Sudan.

South Sudan was drawn into a group with Cameroon, Uganda, and Senegal. South Sudan won their first game as Cameroon had to forfeit due to health issues. In the next game, Senegal dominated South Sudan, setting up a game with Uganda where the South Sudanese were not favored. Remember, it was only a decade ago that South Sudan failed to beat Uganda’s best club team, let alone the Uganda National Team. However, South Sudan did win, winning 88-86! The Round of 16 saw South Sudan defeat Kenya 60-58, and then South Sudan fell to eventual champions, Tunisia, 65-80 in the Quarter-finals.

South Sudan celebrates their 88-86 win over Uganda to finish second in their group at AfroBasket 2021 (photo from FIBA).

Now South Sudan had more confidence for the World Cup Qualifiers.

In the First Round, South Sudan finished first in their group with a 6-0 record in front of Tunisia, Rwanda, and Cameroon.

South Sudanese players ecstatic after their first victory over Tunisia, 72-64, in the First Round of Qualifiers (photo from FIBA).

In the Second Round, South Sudan started off with a 66-69 loss against Senegal, but then would win 101-58 over DR Congo, 85-65 over Egypt, and 83-75 over Senegal. This 83-75 win over Senegal secured South Sudan a place in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with two games left to play in the qualifiers. South Sudan finished the qualifiers on Saturday and Sunday with an 82-61 win over DR Congo and a 97-77 win over Egypt.

South Sudan National Team Celebrates Qualifying for the World Cup after their 83-75 win over Senegal in Alexandria, Egypt (photo from FIBA).

South Sudan thus finished the official part of World Cup Qualification with an impressive 11-1 record, the best in Africa and tied for the best record worldwide, even in front of the likes of defending World Champions Spain and the defending Olympic Champions USA. Most importantly, South Sudan qualified for the FIBA World Cup for the first time!

South Sudan National Basketball Team now features elite players they once did not have. After Luol Deng took over, the focus on recruiting all eligible players became paramount and with Royal Ivey as the head coach, the South Sudan National Team soon became the best ran on the continent.

Unlike many other national teams, when Royal Ivey is busing coaching in the NBA during the qualifying windows that the NBA and Euroleague do not take off for, the South Sudanese simply bring in Luol Deng as their interim head coach. So either way, South Sudan is being led by NBA talent.

South Sudan is still without some top players though. For example, Los Angeles Lakers power forward, Wenyen Gabriel, is eligible for the national team and is yet to join.

But, now that South Sudan is in the World Cup, surely many more South Sudanese eligible players will be attempting to play for their nation.

The route to the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia may have not been likely, but South Sudan challenged themselves to be ahead of schedule and are now one of the last 32 nations in the world to have a chance at basketball supremacy.

For South Sudan, sport and basketball are synonymous and this accomplishment proves this statement more than anything ever could.

In the end, it was a just qualification, for one of the nations that cherishes basketball the most will get to see their nation represented at the sport’s marquee event: the World Cup!

Congrats South Sudan on qualifying for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup!

The highlights of South Sudan’s World Cup Qualifying win over Senegal!
The people of South Sudan celebrate their wins and qualifying! They love South Sudan and basketball!

The World Celebrates as Kuwait turns 62

Ten years before Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan bequeathed the world with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there was already a new nation in the Gulf, the State of Kuwait.

Map of Kuwait from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

And it was this nation that paved the way for the UAE and other Gulf nations to use their independence to create immense wealth and freedoms for their citizens and the expatriate communities that have come to live on the Arabian Peninsula.

The UAE’s, Qatar’s, and Bahrain’s story is perhaps one of emulation of Kuwait.

Modern Kuwait began in a similar fashion to the other Gulf States.

Having been a battleground for influence by various colonial powers from the Ottomans to the Portuguese and to the British, Kuwait, like the other Gulf States, quickly fell into protectorate status of the British Empire in 1899.

Before oil was found, Kuwait was a merchant capital for long distance ship building and pearling, a very similar culture to that of the pre-oil Gulf.

And similar to the UAE, Kuwait became known as a diverse and free society, welcoming to the outside world.

Arabs, Persians, Africans, Jews and Armenians would call this protectorate home, as Kuwait quickly became a center of religious tolerance in the region.

Oil would be found in Kuwait on 22 February 1938, twenty years before the first commercial discovery in the then Trucial States (UAE), one year before the discovery of oil in Qatar, and actually six years after the discovery of oil in Bahrain.

Kuwait always appeared a decade or more ahead of the UAE and other Gulf States in the Twentieth Century, but thank God it did because it provided a blueprint for the UAE and the other states to follow.

Kuwait would soon use their oil wealth to create master plans and increase employment by diversifying their job sector to increase the wealth of all Kuwaitis.

Kuwait became very liberalized for the region, retaining their Islamic culture.

These cultural traits continued once Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah was able to lead his nation to independence in 1961. 

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah signs documents of independence on 19 June 1961. The Indepence Day was moved to 25 February, the date in 1950 when Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah became the Sheikh of Kuwait, so that way people would have an easier time celebrating in the warm winter instead of the hot summer (from KUNA photos).

Following this, Kuwait entered their Golden Era. 

It became known for freedom of the press, women’s rights, and even parliamentary democracy.

Kuwait became a football powerhouse too, winning the 1980 AFC Asia Cup, qualifying for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, and coming home with a point in a difficult group with Czechoslovakia, France, and England.

A great story about the Kuwaiti Camel at the World Cup 1982 can be found on this link here.

Again, another accomplishment almost a decade before the UAE’s 1990 World Cup run, and many years before Qatar’s 2022 debut and 2019 AFC Asia Cup win. Bahrain is yet to accomplish either.

These Kuwaiti accomplishments also went into construction.

As Dubai and the rest of the Gulf started reaching the sky, Kuwait City also began as coincidentally, both Dubai and Kuwait City began with their first tall structures in 1979, and then the Gulf all started their building booms in the later 1990s and 2000s.

Night image of Kuwait City by Ibrahim Muhamed.

While the UAE and other nearby nations like Qatar and Bahrain continue to improve in their world standing, Kuwait continues to persist as a successful nation.

Kuwait has had to fight for their independence with neighboring states cementing their legacy as a warrior people, a nation to look toward in achieving freedom.

And on 25 February, we can look once again to Kuwait to celebrate their 62nd year of independence on Kuwait National Day.

The success of the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and plenty of other nearby states can thank Kuwait for their intuition that spurred their nations to economic prominence. 

And Kuwait is not yet done breaking records. Kuwait 2035 is a plan to continue to improve the nation by creating a new port, new city, and the world’s tallest building! Kuwait, in line with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will create the City of Silk or Madinat al-Hareer and in this city will sit the Burj Mubarak al-Kabir! The port will form a key part of the Belt and Road Intiative, cementing Kuwait’s place as a key ally of the two most powerful nations: the United States of America (USA) and the People’s Republic of China. The USA has also helped on building infrastructure that connects Kuwait City to the City of Silk across the Kuwait Bay, and continues to provide military security for the State of Kuwait. The new city will be a free trade zone, using different and more liberalizing laws friendly to business to make Kuwait another connector of East Asian and Middle Eastern trade.

Photo from Tandeem Group.

And in 2019, Kuwait opened the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Causeway, the world’s fourth longest bridge, using Kuwaiti, French, South Korean, (PR) Chinese, and (US) American expertise to shorten the former two-hour drive to just 30 minutes for those wishing to navigate what will become Kuwait’s two main cities.

Photos are from The National.

So, we will continue to see Kuwaiti enginuity as the 21st Century continues, displaying that Kuwait, like the neighbors they became an example for, will continue to be an elite nation.

We may think of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Manama, and Doha, but keep thinking Kuwait City and now the City of Silk too.

To all Kuwaitis, have a blessed National Day.

Flag of Kuwait.

FSM, Palau, and RMI have now all signed MoUs with the USA

On 10 January, 12 January, and 10 February, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) respectively all signed onto memorandum of understandings (MoU) with the United States of America (USA) that will see Palau and FSM receive twice the funding they previously received under their Compact of Free Association (COFA) with RMI receiving quadruple the amount of funding they previously received under their COFA agreement.

These MoUs are very important as it keeps the COFAs in place at least nominally until the US Congress and the other nations’ congresses approve of these deals, hopefully by later this year.

The COFA were deals intituated by President Ronald Reagan that came to light officially for FSM and RMI in 1986 and under President Bill Clinton for Palau in 1994 that gave the United States exclusive military presence in a sea and land combined area that when combined with the US territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), includes contiguous territory the size of the continental US.

Sea Territory in Purple is where US has sole exclusive military jurisdiction (legally). In addition, there is more US exclusive territory in Oceania either not seen in the map or not highlighted such as Hawaii in the top right corner.

This allows the US to patrol most of the world’s commons to make sure free trade, democracy, international law, and the largest global commons in the Pacific Ocean are preserved from certain nefarious actors.

The timing comes at a point when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has sought to control and influence the Pacific to fall under their sphere. In addition to this, FSM’s and RMI’s COFA deals end in 2023, while Palau’s ends in 2024.

The COFA States are the closest countries to the USA and share the same military, the same postal service, and many other services that connect all four nations to each other.

Some notable facts include that these states often have a higher percentage of their citizens serving in the US Military than most US States, and these states often have their citizens educated in the USA.

The USA is still trying to create longitudinal and latitudinal straight line chains of defense, that effectively see US territories with Guam, CNMI, American Somoa, Hawaii (US state), and other territories of the US such as Wake Island and Midway Island combined with nearby foreign nations to host US Military or US allies like Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom (UK), France, Japan, South Korea, and the Republic of China (Taiwan; unofficial ally) to patrol these waters to protect against illegal activity by other countries and groups. By creating these straight line of defense, the USA can better protect the Pacific Ocean and its nations quest for freedom, Christianity, and democracy.

Recently, the US signed a deal with the Philippines that will see more US Military stationed in the nation in more locations.

Furthermore, the US is hoping to keep the ASEAN nations under their sphere as they hope more ASEAN nations can work out their differences to confront certain adversarial nations together.

Recently, Vietnam and Indonesia did just that.

In addition, the US hopes to keep the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) under their sphere, and hopes to keep this confederation together. Recently, we heard good news about this too as Kiribati is set to rejoin.

By creating more allies across the Pacific, the USA can keep up a deterrent that would make war less likely. In addition, the US can also make it so that if a war were to break out, that the USA would be heavily prepared with their allies.

A key piece to this puzzle is maintaining an advantage within the bounds of international law, to encourage other foes to follow the law or risk bad press, less influence, less trust, and less allies.

By making sure the COFAs stay in place, the USA can make sure they keep a superior advantage in the Micronesia region.

Croatia’s Next 4 Years Should be Excellent

The Croatian National Football Team had another good World Cup, their 3rd top 3 finish out of 7 they have been eligible to compete in as an independent nation so far.

In the 2022 edition, Croatia finished 3rd Place after a great 2-1 victory over Morocco.

But, what is more impressive is how Croatia was able to rebound after finishing 2nd in 2018 with what many thought to then be an old team.

On the 2018 team, Croatia featured 7 players over 30 years old, 4 players that were 29, and 3 players that were 28. In the starting lineup, Croatia featured 5 30+ year olds, and 4 of those were considered 4 of Croatia’s top 5 players, including their top 2 players: Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić. The other 3 players were star striker Mario Mandžukić, star goalkeeper Danijel Subašić, and the only starter not considered one of Croatia’s main players being starting left back Ivan Strinić. All of these 30+ year olds were not expected to be elite anymore or as good, or starters, or even playing come 2022.

In addition, other starters were 29 such as another one of Croatia’s key 5 players, star winger Ivan Perišić, and starting center-back Domagoj Vida. Both of these players relied on their speed in their positions so they were both expected to not be elite for the 2022 FIFA World Cup anymore.

But, Croatia’s fear of being too old for the future were not done just there yet.

Another starting center-back was Dejan Lovren at 28, and other key players were what many considered to be the captain off the pitch and a rotational player, then 32 year-old center-back Vedran Ćorluka, and another rotational player, then 29 year-old left back, Josip Pivarić. None of these players were expected to be back, or to be very good.

But then, it got even worse because Croatia’s #2 striker, Nikola Kalinić, was 30, and also sent home, and then another key Croatian midfielder, Milan Badelj, was 29. These two were not expected to be back either.

Therefore, Croatia’s World Cup stars from 2018 that were expected to be back consisted of then Croatia’s #3 striker, who became the #2 and a starting CAM, Andrej Kramarić at 26, starting winger Ante Rebić at 24, starting right back Šime Vrsaljko at 26, rotational midfielders Mateo Kovačić (24) and Marcelo Brozović (25), plus promising young defenders Tin Jedvaj (22) and Duje Ćaleta-Car (21). Also, a #2 goalkeeper, Dominik Livaković (23), was considered a future starter, but no one was quite sure he would be good, let alone anywhere close to the man that won them two FIFA World Cup penalty kick shootouts, Danijel Subašić!

Other players expected to battle for a spot were wingers Marko Pjaca (23) and substitute goalkeeper, Lovre Kalinić (28). Midfielder Filip Bradarić (26) was also considered a potential future player.

But the point is, Croatia’s 2022 hopes seemed to fall upon Andrej Kramarić, Šime Vrsaljko, Ante Rebić, Mateo Kovačić, Marcelo Brozović, Tin Jedvaj, Duje Ćaleta-Car, and Dominik Livaković.

None of these players at the time were considered to be as good as any of the top 5 Croatian players. And therefore, it was predicted that there would be a huge drop-off.

And to the critics’ credit, Croatia first competitive match after the 2018 World Cup Final was a 0-6 loss to Spain in the newly created UEFA Nations League!

Croatia looked doomed.

But, Croatia rebounded and by the end of the group, Croatia almost past through to the Semi-finals, barely losing out and then were relegated (ended up staying in the top division due to a re-formatting of the UEFA Nations League). It was a very tight group which saw Croatia tie England, beat Spain, and lose after a 1-0 lead over England away, that would have seen Croatia through to the Semi-finals as group winners. These results suggested Croatia were still an elite team, minus that strange 0-6 loss.

However, Croatia went into the next UEFA Nations League losing big, 1-4 against Portugal and 2-4 against France. Furthermore, Croatia finished the group 1-0-5 barely staying in the top division by winning a tiebreaker over Sweden.

After this 2019-2020 UEFA Nations League, Croatia appeared lost.

Croatia had other peculiar performances, both earlier and after, in friendlies and qualifiers such as a 1-2 friendly loss against Tunisia, close 2-1 wins over Jordan (friendly), Georgia (friendly), and Azerbaijan (European Championship Qualifiers), as well as a 1-2 loss against Hungary in European Qualifiers.

And in the World Cup Qualifiers prior to the European Championship, Croatia struggled against Slovenia losing 0-1, and against both Cyprus in a 1-0 win and Malta in a 3-0 win. Croatia would also go onto tie Armenia 1-1 and lose to Belgium 0-1 in friendlies.

Yet, all these lack luster results could not curb the fact that Croatia had qualified for the European Championship on top of their group, getting wins over Hungary (3-0) and Wales (2-1), plus a 4-0 win and a 3-1 win over Slovakia.

In the European Championship, Croatia would finish 1-1-1 in their group with a 0-1 loss against England, a 1-1 tie with the Czech Republic, and a 3-1 win over Scotland.

Croatia appeared to be below an elite team level, a level expected to possibly make a World Cup, and then battle for possibly a Round of 16 spot. This was not expected to be a top team and their match against Spain in the Round of 16 in the European Championship seemed to suggest this at first. Croatia found themselves down 1-3 with less than 10 minutes left, only to get two goals before the end of regular time to take the match into extra time. Croatia went onto lose 3-5, but this match gave Croatian’s hope that maybe Croatia could be an elite national team again.

Croatia would follow this up with a very good finish to their World Cup Qualifying and an even better UEFA Nations League Group Stage for the 2022-2023 edition.

Croatia would finish their last 6 matches 4-2-0 in the qualifiers with two ties against Russia (0-0 away) and Slovakia (2-2 home), and then four wins over Slovakia (1-0 away), Slovenia (3-0 home), Cyprus (3-0 away), Malta (7-1 away), and Russia (1-0 home). These results qualified Croatia for the 2022 World Cup.

Croatia then had friendly matches against Slovenia (1-1 tie) and Bulgaria (2-1 win) in Qatar, before their Nations League first match for 2022-2023. Croatia opened up with a 0-3 home loss to Austria, but then followed that up with a 1-1 home tie against France, a 1-0 away win over Denmark, a 1-0 away win over France, a 2-1 home win over Denmark, and a 3-1 away win over Austria to win Group 1 with a 4-1-1 record. The Croatians were now elite again, at least temporarily.

Croatia’s 1-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia as a final warm-up before the 2022 FIFA World Cup served as a question mark.

Would Croatia do well or not?

But, of course Croatia had a very difficult group! Belgium was the #2 team in the World, the defending 3rd Place winners at the World Cup (2018), Canada were the best team in World Cup Qualifiers from North America, and Morocco were a top African side.

Croatia would tie Morocco 0-0 and go down early to Canada. But their 4 goals to win 4-1 over Canada and their subsequent 0-0 tie against Belgium meant that Croatia were through to the knockout stages.

Shootout victories over Japan (Round of 16) and Brazil (Quarter-finals) displayed that Croatia were once again one of the best teams in the world, a title they have had for a while according to many, but one they have only definitively been labeled as in 1998, 2018, and now 2022.

Croatia did suffer a very difficult Semi-final loss to eventual 2022 World Champions Argentina, 0-3, but it was not a match seen as Croatia being bad, but more of Lionel Messi being so good, and Croatia being a bit unlucky, and to many, ripped off on a bad call that led to an opening goal against. And Croatia’s 2-1 3rd Place Match victory over Morocco brought Croatia back up to their high status.

But now, Croatia must focus on their next tasks. One, they must qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Next, Croatia must rebuild their roster for the next World Cup.

And the way Croatia must start rebuilding is how Croatia did it this past 4.5 year cycle for the next 3.5 years. Croatia must use the European competitions to bring in new players and to find a solution to their goalscoring problems.

However, the development might need to be a bit delayed, as Croatia have a chance this June to win their first competitive trophy as an independent nation as they play in the UEFA Nations League 2022-2023 Semi-finals, and hopefully Final. A trophy in this competition could serve as a confidence booster and an extra sense of comfort in the future as Croatians will be able to look back on this success as a champion, a title they most wish to hold for a World Cup.

Furthermore, not only does Zlatko Dalić need to find new players, but also needs to re-engage with those who have fallen out of favor or were not on the 2022 World Cup team.

For example, had Croatia had another speedy center-back like Southampton’s Duje Ćaleta-Car, Croatia might have been more able to defend a speedy attack like Argentina better. And, either Ćaleta-Car or Gvardiol could have helped out in one of the full-back positions. AC Milan forward Ante Rebić also needs to be brought back, as does VfL Wolfsburg forward Josip Brekalo, SL Benfica striker Petar Musa, Bologna FC midfielder Nikola Moro, US Lecce defender Marin Pongračić, and backup goalkeeper, Hajduk Split’s Lovre Kalinić. Even Šime Vrsaljko who is retired currently could be brought back into the mix as a right back if he decides to comeback.

Furthermore, players that were already on the team should be given matches including US Sassuolo Calcio center-back Martin Erlić, Bayern Munich defender Josip Stanišić, Dinamo Zagreb center-back Josip Šutalo, Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Luka Sučić, and Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Kristijan Jakić.

Josip Šutalo (22) and Josip Stanišić (22) started in the 3rd Place Match and both played very well. Kristijan Jakić also played in the 3rd Place Match as a sub and did well while in.

Martin Erlić (24), Luka Sučić (20), Ivo Grbić (26), and Ivica Ivušić (27) all did not receive any appearances in the 2022 World Cup, but undoubtedly received a valuable experience.

Lastly, a key factor, maybe not for 2026, but definitely for future World Cups after will be Mateus da Silva who is currently 12, and plays in CR Flamengo’s system in Brazil. His father, Eduardo da Silva, is Croatia’s fourth all-time leading goalscorer with a goalscoring efficiency only surpassed by Mario Mandžukić for players who have played many matches for Croatia. Eduardo and Mateus, plus the rest of their family were seen rooting for Croatia over Eduardo’s native Brazil during the 2022 World Cup. Mateus is presumably eligible for both Brazil and Croatia. So, the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) should look into bringing Mateus onto the U-17 National Team in a few years time.

There are many more Croatians that are likely to feature in the National Team conversations in the future such as SS Lazio midfielder Toma Bašić, Hajduk Split midfielder Luka Ivanušec, Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Martin Baturina, and Hajduk Split forward Stipe Biuk. A revamped career by Empoli FC forward Marko Pjaca and others like Cagliari Calcio midfielder Marko Rog could spark the team as well. Lastly, Ante Palaversa is a player still with potential playing for ESTAC in Ligue 1 on loan from Manchester City as a CDM.

With Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovačić, Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozović, Torino FC midfielder Nikola Vlašić, Atalanta BC midfielder Mario Pašalić, Stade Rennais midfielder Lovro Majer, all of the defenders except Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, and all of the goalkeepers coming back, Croatia look ready to strike another World Cup run. Even with Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida and the forwards, they too could come back as all these players will be anywhere from 31 to 37. Of course, it may be too much to hope for Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Luka Modrić, Ivan Peršić, Andrej Kramarić, and Ante Budimir to come back as they will all be 35+, with Luka being 40, and the others being 37 or younger. But, if Perišić could make a surprise comeback, that could go along way in strengthening the attack. Either way, it is good that Croatia’s oldest spot are their forwards because that was their worst performing players so a change should help.

Furthermore, Croatia should look to revamping their 4-2-3-1 formation they brought back for the 3rd Place Match and used throughout the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In addition to testing and priming other formations, Croatia needs to continue to improve upon this 4-2-3-1 formation as it works very well for them.

Therefore, the future is bright for Croatia. And keep in mind, there are many Croatians coming up we have yet to hear of. These players may be the next Mario Mandžukić or Davor Šuker, which is exactly what Croatia needs.

It is important to remember that many of the players that were expected to lead Croatia again in 2022 after the 2018 FIFA World Cup did not feature in the 2022 edition despite their high class skills as other players had come up that were also very good. So, some of these players may be replaced by even better players in 3.5 years time.

So, Croatia nor Croatians need to lose hope for their national team if the press get negative or the results get bad. What we saw over the last 4 years is a Croatian side that is consistently improving for their most important competition, the World Cup. However, I think all Croatians would enjoy more consistency and more success including European trophies in future in-between years, in addition to successful World Cups like the last two.

However, Croatians must continue to hold themselves to a high standard, and not for the “we are a small country” mindset as that has blinded Croatia in the past and continues to do so in many other things besides association football.

The point is that Croatia should continue to dream for the World Cup because their ceiling does not exist. Croatia should become FIFA World Cup Champions in the future, and it could come as early as 2026. That is what Croatia is capable of, and if they continue to work hard, be humble, not overlook any nation, be disciplined, celebrate each victory, be patient, and continue to develop, Croatia should be World Champions sooner rather than later. In other words, as long as Croatia keeps being Croatia, and improves just a few of their negatives, Croatia will be World Cup Champions in the future!

Mexico 🇲🇽 Should Seek Improvements, but Should also Seek Perspective

The last two years have been awfully horrible for Mexican football as Mexico lost the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup finals in the Summer of 2021, finished behind Canada and lost the head to head to both Canada (0-0-2) and the USA (0-1-1) in 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, and to throw in insult to injury, American clubs overtook the Mexican domination of the CONCACAF Champions League when Seattle Sounders won it in 2022.

For all in tense and purposes, the USA were now the Kings, or dare I say it, the Presidents of North America, and for many people, even Canada was now better than Mexico!

So, understandably, Mexicans did not have much faith in their team to make the knockout rounds.

And the lost opportunity 0-0 tie to Poland and the disappointing 0-2 loss to Argentina left Mexico with not just a feeling of disappointment, but also a reality of disappointment.

For Mexico, one has to remember that they have been one of the most consistent and decorated national teams in the history of the sport, but their fans’ expectations often leave good performances under valued. However, going into their last match of Group C against Saudi Arabia, this time, their fans’ feelings were much more legitimate. It really was an abysmal situation for such a talented nation.

But, Mexico really left it all on the pitch and played a match that we all remember the usual Mexico would play.

They dominated!

While the 1st half was a scoreless tie, Mexico had many chances that easily could have gone it. The Saudi Arabian goalkeeper, Mohammed Al-Owais, had a very good match.

But, in the 2nd half, Mexico came alive!

Henry Martín scored in the 47th Minute and then Luis Chávez had what probably would have been the Goal of the Tournament had Mexico advanced with an unbelievable free kick goal in the 52nd Minute.

In the meantime, Argentina came alive, which meant that instead of just winning, Mexico needed to win by many goals, or have Argentina win by many. Luckily for Mexico, Argentina needed to keep scoring too and they scored in the 46th Minute.

With the way Mexico were playing, two more goals seemed doable, which is what the Mexicans needed to advance out of Group C!

But, Mexico would have two goals called back for offsides, including one that was probably just a shoulder blade or a toe offsides! Heartbreaking indeed.

But you could feel it. Mexico was playing with passion! The Mexican fans were supporting with passion. And once again, the neutrals were tuning into Mexico hoping to see a comeback from a side that has given the world so many spectacular footballing moments in the past.

The Mexico we have all grown to expect was back!

And then, in the 67th Minute, Argentina scored again!

Now all Mexico needed was for either Mexico or Argentina to score one more goal!

Mexico and Poland were tied on almost everything, except fair play points, as Poland had less yellow cards, so essentially, Mexico could have hoped for Polish yellow cards too.

Mexico kept pushing and gave it everything they had!

While Argentina dominated Poland with 23 (12) shots to Poland’s 4 (0) and 74% possession to Poland’s 26%, Mexico dominated Saudi Arabia with 26 (11) shots to Saudi Arabia’s 10 (2) and with 61% possession to Saudi Arabia’s 39%. And these stats were not even fully telling of the Mexican and Argentinian domination.

However, just like Mohammed Al-Owais was having a match of the tournament, so too was Poland’s goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczęsny, who had already saved a penalty kick from Argentina’s Lionel Messi in the 1st half.

And as the Argentina-Poland match finished with Argentina winning 2-0, Mexico finally conceded after pushing so far up, and went onto win 2-1. Mexico was eliminated.

Mexico won the battle, but lost the war as many people commented across social media.

But, while this is true, it sort of is not.

And this is where Mexico needs to seek both improvement and perspective.

See, Mexico needs to seek improvement because they are too good of a football nation and too big of a football nation not to be challenging for a World Cup.

Yes, Mexico has issues with drug cartels and corruption, but frankly, there are plenty of Latin American nations, such as Brazil and Argentina, that are actually in statically worse positions than them on issues regarding overall livelihood.

And, while Mexico does have less people than Brazil, they have more than 70 million more people than Argentina, and that is not even including the Mexican diaspora where a lot of the money and player pool comes from for Mexican football, particularly from the USA.

Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven/Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral in the Zócolo/Constitution Square; from National Geographic.

So, for Mexico, it is not that they do not have the essentials, they do!

And in terms of talent, let us really look at the numbers.

Mexico had gone to 7 straight knockout rounds at the World Cup, a record only surpassed by Brazil (8, now 9) in that span. In fact, Mexico only did not go to more because after their 1986 Quater-final and overall 6th Place finish, they were banned from the 1990 World Cup during the Qualifiers.

Mexico had also won an Olympic Gold Medal (2012) in that span, and not by using the loophole non-European and non-South American nations have gotten to use since the 1930s, and a Confederations Cup (1999)!

And, at the continental level, Mexico has dominated even more, winning a record 11 North American Championships, only third all-time in continental championships behind Argentina and Uruguay, both with 15.

Mexico lifting the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup Trophy; From DW.

And as far as club football, Mexican clubs have won a record 37 continental championships in North America, far more than any other country at the club level, with Argentina having 25 as the second closest.

CF Monterrey lifts the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League Trophy; from MLS.

This nation has been legit!

But, they still are. And this is what Mexicans should understand when looking at the failure to reach the knockout stages.

When we look at Mexican football, most of us, Mexicans included, think complacency.

Mexico has been so blessed to be a consistent Top 10 team in the world, but now, after losing two continental finals, one continental club final, and failing to get out of the Group Stage at the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Mexico will be keen to fix what is broken.

All Mexicans will be investigating and trying to come up with a way to spark change.

And for a reference point, the best World Cup performances Mexico has had have come after either group stage elimination or failures to qualify for the World Cup, as well as World Cups they have hosted.

In 1966, Mexico (0-2-1; 2) finished 3rd place in Group 1 behind England (2-1-0; 5) and Uruguay (1-2-0; 4), and in front of France (0-1-2; 1), leaving Mexico in 12th place overall out of 16 Qualified nations.

And then in 1970, Mexico (2-1-0; 5) hosted the World Cup and finished 2nd in Group A due to a drawing of lots as a tiebreaker behind the USSR (2-1-0; 5), and in front of Belgium (1-0-2; 2) and El Salvador (0-0-3; 0). Mexico would lose in the Quarter-finals against eventually runners-up, Italy, thus finishing 6th overall.

In 1982, Mexico (1-3-1; 5) failed to qualify for the World Cup, finishing 3rd place in the 1981 CONCACAF Championship behind Honduras (3-2-0; 8) and El Salvador (2-2-1; 6).

But, then in 1986, Mexico (2-1-0; 5) hosted the World Cup and finished 1st in Group B, in front of Paraguay (1-2-0; 4), Belgium (1-1-1; 3), and Iraq (0-0-3; 0). In the Round of 16, Mexico beat Bulgaria 2-0, and made it to the Quarter-finals, failing to advance against eventual runners-up West Germany on penalty kick shootouts, 1-4, after a scoreless draw, finishing in 6th place overall.

Therefore, as co-hosts for the 2026 World Cup with the USA and Canada, Mexico should expect vast improvement and a run at the World Cup.

But even more importantly, Mexico are actually in a much better place than so many other nations.

For example, the worst two years of Mexican football for some time will most likely see Mexico finish in the Top 20 of the World Cup, 2nd place in North America for the Gold Cup, Nations League, and World Cup Qualifiers, as well as a Mexican club winning and finishing 2nd place in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Combine this with the fact that Mexico were knocked out of the World Cup by the closest of margins and have earned the respect of pundits worldwide, as a nation that should have advanced and were unlucky too, Mexico needs to realize that their 32 year low is many other nation’s high point in their whole history.

This is not to say that Mexico does not need changes.

Rather, what this is to say is that Mexico should not feel ashamed, rather they should feel motivation to conquer more than they previously have.

Because, when looking at all the variables, this nation has the expertise to do so.

And what is even more spectacular from a purely home-grown point of view is the fact that Mexico featured 25 Mexican born players of the 26 total, and 17 played in LigaMX.

And, their Group C performance was done without star player Jesús Corona who suffered an injury before the World Cup started, as well as star youngster Diego Lainez, and featured a Raúl Jiménez who is still recovering from a horrific injury.

These facts show that Mexico is not really in the dust bin of history, rather it is a nation that is still seeing massive success, just not at the level Mexico itself is used to.

And the last point is the fact that because the USA is doing so well, many Mexicans find this as a detriment to their ego of being the top team of the continent, plus, it is their rival. However, improvement from the USA and other CONCACAF nations is a major plus for the development of football in Mexico for competition outside of the continent. As LigaMX and MLS collab more, there will be more money and better competition, creating better players. And, the same goes for revamped and expanded CONCACAF competitions at both club level and national team levels.

These facts show that the nation to have qualified for the fifth most World Cups all-time (17), and one of only eight nations to have won two of the three most important world tournaments (World Cup, Olympics, and Confederations Cup), is still a thriving football nation. This perspective should signal to Mexico that this elimination can and should be a chance to reevaluate to the level needed to reach World Cup Semi-finals and further.

What if California had a World Cup Team?

The 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup begins this Sunday at 8 am Los Angeles time, but while those in the USA’s most populous state will be keen to watch the USA play on Monday (11 am) and their former country Mexico play on Tuesday (8 am), Californians could be calling another nation home too.

And no, I am not talking about another of their former countries, Spain, who plays on Wednesday (8 am), but I am talking about a California National Team!

At first thought, many would look at this and think that California would not be able to produce a respectable squad because the USA itself often fails to produce a Top 10 team.

However, when compiling a list of 26 players, it quickly becomes apparent that a California National Team could do real damage in North American competition, paving the way for a chance at qualifications for the FIFA World Cup itself.

Here would be a list of potential California players from the Top 2 leagues in the US and the top leagues from around the world, plus the corresponding nation they currently represent. In bold would be my 26:

My Top 26 in bold
Rest of the player pool; *** players’ teams and nationalities are updated from this October, so may not be accurate at the time of reading this article

In addition to these players, there are many more players that are in the youth levels of various club teams like the San Diego born 12 year old Cristiano Ronaldo Jr. In addition to youth players, there are plenty of senior level players that would qualify for a California Men’s National Soccer Team but are not listed here because they were not born in California. For example, LA Galaxy goalkeeper Johnathan Klinsmann was born in Germany, but grew up in Newport Beach. There are plenty more eligible players and some like Johnathan Klinsmann are sons of former greats.

Cristiano Ronaldo Jr. after signing for Manchester United as a youth player; from

Now, where would this team rank?

Just looking at my starting 11 in a 4-3-3 formation from current FIFA 23 ratings, this is how the California National Team would rank on the video game:

GK: Josh Cohen (NA; ~70)

LB: Julián Aruajo (70)

CB: Ryan Hollingshead (71)

CB: Aaron Long (73)

RB: Alex Roldán (66)

LCM: Sebastian Lletget (70)

CDM: Luca de la Torre (71)

RCM: Cristian Roldán (75)

LW: Michael Hoyos (69)

Striker: Haji Wright (69)

RW: Paul Arriola (73)

GK: 70; Defense: 70; Midfield: 72; Attack: 70; Overall: 70; ☆☆☆

Purely off of current FIFA 23 ratings, my starting 11 would be a 70 overall rated side, with a 3 star rating. This would probably be Top 10 in North America, and definitely Top 16 which would qualify California for the Gold Cup.

In the context of World Rankings, this California side would probably rank some place between #50 and #100 just off of talent alone. With good results, this team could rank even higher.

While Cristian Roldán will be the highest rated player, my 26 will be notable because it will include some big name European based players including UEFA Champions League and Israeli Liga Leumit goal keeper Josh Cohen of Maccabi Haifa, Turkish Süper Lig star striker Haji Wright of Antalyaspor, and Spanish LaLiga midfielder Luca de la Torre of Celta Vigo.

Cristian Roldán provides the match winning assist in a 1-0 CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarter-final Victory over Jamaica as fellow Californian Matthew Hoppe scored the match winning goal; from CONCACAF’s website.

In addition to the European based players, Michael Hoyos will be included who is a journeyman across many leagues in South America playing in the top domestic leagues and the Copa Libertadores.

Michael Hoyos scores for LDU Quito in a 1-1 home draw with Barcelona SC in the Ecuadorian Seria A; from

Brandon Vazquez and Milan Iloski will lead the team in club level goal scoring with Brandon Vazquez scoring 18 goals and assisting on 8 in MLS competition in the 2022 season and Milan Iloski scoring 22 goals and assisting on 6 in USL Championship competition in the 2022 season. Haji Wright is on track with these two so far in the 2022-2023 Süper Lig season scoring 9 goals and assisting on 1 across just 12 matches for Antalyaspor.

Haji Wright scores in a 3-0 home friendly win for the USA against Morocco; from Getty Images.

The biggest weakness appears to be defense, but I picked my players off of the eyeball test and in match statistics and when looking at the starting back 4, all of them play at a high level. Their FIFA ratings really do not do them justice. For example, Alex Roldán is rated in the 60s, but was an MLS All-Star in the 2021 season and starts for El Salvador as their best player. He consistently causes trouble for teams like the USA and Mexico. This level of play should warrant a rating in the 70s like his brother Cristian Roldán. And then, for Julián Araujo, he is a 2x MLS All-Star (2021 and 2022) and has played for both the USA and Mexico National Teams at the age of only 21. Maybe his 70 rating is accurate, but as he gets older, he is expected to reach an 80 rating, suggesting he probably plays somewhere between these two ratings.

Alex Roldán playing for El Salvador at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup; from Seattle Sounders Twitter.

And then Josh Cohen is not in FIFA 23 and so I just assumed a 70 rating, however it could be higher or lower. But, his experience this UEFA Champions League Group Stage suggests he is better than a 70 rating.

Josh Cohen and his Maccabi Haifa earn a clean sheat 2-0 victory over Juventus FC in Group H of the 2022-2023 UEFA Champions League; from

Now, another method to judge the players would be off of in match ratings. We can see the starting 11 below:

GK: Josh Cohen (6.4)

LB: Julián Aruajo (6.87)

CB: Ryan Hollingshead (6.74)

CB: Aaron Long (6.83)

RB: Alex Roldán (7.03)

LCM: Sebastian Lletget (6.86)

CDM: Luca de la Torre (6.50)

RCM: Cristian Roldán (7.09)

LW: Michael Hoyos (NA ~ 7.0)

Striker: Haji Wright (7.08)

RW: Paul Arriola (7.09)

*Haji Wright’s rating comes from the Turkish Süper Lig, Michael Hoyos does not have a rating to be found, Luca de la Torre’s rating comes from Spanish LaLiga, and Josh Cohen’s rating is from the UEFA Champions League in a group which featured PSG of France, SL Benfica of Portugal, and Juventus of Italy. All other players’ ratings came from MLS play.

Now, for the coaching staff, I have selected some key people born in California to run the program. Again, there are key people who moved to California and have lived in the state that probably would coach for them like Cobi Jones, but to make things less complicated, I just chose those born in California.

Cobi Jones has been a key member of the California and USA Soccer communities as a player, coach, and announcer. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in Southern California and played for UCLA and the LA Galaxy; from Fox Sports.

For Head Coach/Manager, Landon Donovan would be the man. He currently manages San Diego Loyal in the USL Championship, the second division. For General Manager and Assistant Manager, I would have Tony Beltran, the current Assistant General Manager for Real Salt Lake of the MLS. Nick Rimando would be the Goalkeeping Coach as he was a long time MLS All-Star and US National Team player. And Carlos Bocanegra would be the Technical Director (and Scout), a position along with Vice President that he fulfills with Atlanta United in the MLS.

Head Coach Landon Donovan in match; from San Diego Loyal SC.

There would be many more faces on the staff, such as multiple assistant coaches and set piece coaches, but these will be the main faces.

And surely former German and US National Team Head Coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, would be involved given that he has lived in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach for a very long time. If Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger can become California’s Governor and thus Head of State and Head of Government, surely a German born soccer genius can become California’s Head Coach or an assistant.

Jürgen Klinsmann as US Men’s National Soccer Team Manager; from

Now, is all of this just made up for nothing?

Actually, it is not. There is a California National Team part of the California Football Federation, a member of the World Unity Football Alliance (WUFA), a FIFA for non-FIFA members. There are others like the WUFA such as CONIFA. Each of these generally holds a World Cup for their member nations. CONIFA is notable for featuring sovereign-states and claimed but not recognized sovereign-states such as Kiribati and Northern Cyprus.

From California Football Federation.

In the WUFA, most members are former countries, often brought together by those who wish to re-create their nation.

California is an example of this and the California Football Federation is largely connected to the broader Calexit Movement, a movement which wishes to make California an independent and sovereign-state like it was for a few weeks after the Bear Flag Revolt.

California Republic is declared an independent sovereign-state on 14 June 1846 in Sonoma; from

Hawaii also has a national team widely supported by those that want to bring back the independent Kingdom of Hawaii that existed until the 1890s. They play in CONIFA.

Surely, Honolulu-born and US international Bobby Wood would be a key player for them, and Hawaii would probably do well in their Qualifiers because they would probably play in Oceania meaning that Hawaii with their actual full lineup could legit be the #2 team in their continent.

But, back to California, where over 38 million people call home, as well as the soon to be World’s 4th largest economy with a huge soccer culture.

In this great state, we see major clubs like the LA Galaxy, LAFC, and the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as giants in the second division like Orange County SC and Sacramento Republic, and then when you throw in college, high school, and other youth levels, you start to see the soccer ecosystem that could transform California into a World Cup nation, especially with the expanded format to 48 teams.

LAFC celebrate their 2022 MLS Cup Championship, and were also 2022 MLS Supporters’ Shield Winners. Meanwhile, LA Galaxy have the most MLS Cups (5) and Maccabi Los Angeles have tied for the most US Open Cups (5); from MLS.

In fact, California would be poised to have their own professional league system and their own collegiate system, in addition to their already existing junior collegiate and high school systems, plus high level club youth soccer.

UCLA celebrates their 2-1 victory over fellow NCAA Division 1 California school, Cal Baptist, in the First Round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament; from UCLA Men’s Soccer.

And when looking at infrastructure, California itself could host their own World Cup with stadiums exceeding 40,000 in Los Angeles (2), Pasadena, Inglewood, Fresno, Oakland, Santa Clara, Berkeley, Stanford, San Francisco, Anaheim, San Diego, and another San Diego venue likely to be expandable to 40,000 with another in Carson. There are more 40,000+ seat stadiums when looking at racing sports, but that would be very unlikely and five baseball stadiums were already included.

90,000+ fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasedena for the 1994 FIFA Men’s World Cup Final between Italy and Brazil; from CRISPIN THRUSTON ©SPORTING PICTURES (UK) LTD Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Sporting Pictures.

But most importantly, California already has the players and staff to support a national team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as well as awesome jerseys you can buy on the California Football Federation’s website.

Simply put, a California World Cup team would be a legitimate team.

But for now, most Californians are glad to be in the USA and rooting on the Red, White, and Blue. And those who are not will most likely be cheering on another nation, probably Mexico.

Nicaragua’s WBC Qualification Springs Life into Baseball’s Global Potential

Nicaragua 🇳🇮 has qualified for the World Baseball Classic for the first time ever.

Nicaragua, unlike many other nations who have made their WBC debuts via qualifiers, are a historic baseball nation.

When you talk to Nicaraguans about sports, generally speaking, it is through the language of baseball that you get most of your answers.

But, originally, those answers would not have been in Spanish.

Baseball was brought to Nicaragua by an American on the Miskito Coast on the Atlantic side of Nicaragua.

The Miskito Coast was part of the Miskito Kingdom, an off and on independent sovereign state that also was sometimes a protectorate of the English/British/United Kingdom. The people here speak English, indigenous languages such as Miskito, Sama, Rama, and Garifuna, and two English based Creoles called Miskito Creole and Rama Cay Creole, plus Spanish since Nicaragua has taken over. Many of the people here are Afro-Caribbean with roots descended from the British colonies.

The Miskito Kingdom in the 1800s; from The History Files. The Miskito Kingdom was a UK Protectorate until 1860, when it became Protectorate of Nicaragua. This Nicaragua Protectorate status allowed for the former Miskito Kingdom to control most of its laws and customs. Nicaragua forcefully made the Miskito Kingdom a full part of Nicaragua in 1894, destroying its autonomy, and made it the Zelaya Department after then Nicaraguan President. The impetus for this full conquer was to quash the British sentiment in the area that led to the UK trying to re-incorporate the Miskito Coast into its domain once again. In 1986, the Zelaya Department became two autonomous regions: the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region and the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region. Some in Miskito have called for independence as of late, but this has not gained much traction. For more information, check this link.

As a result, the Miskito Coast people were cricket players and most were English speakers during the 1800s.

So, when (US) American businessman, Albert Addlesberg, visited the new protectorate of Nicaragua in the 1880s, he decided he wanted to expand their sports scene into baseball. He saw that since these players were cricketers, they could easily transition into baseball.

And in 1887, two teams were formed: Southern and White Rose. They played in 1888 in the Miskito capital, Bluefields.

An aerial drone photo of Bluefields and their Central Park baseball stadium; from 123rf.

Then, in 1891, baseball made its way to the Pacific side of Nicaragua when a group of mostly (US) American university students founded a sports society called La Sociedad de Recreo. This society played many sports and had a former Nicaraguan President as the club president, Adán Cárdenas (Remember this name for later). As this sports club continued through the years, baseball became its go to sport.

Through these early years, baseball would develop into Nicaragua’s main sport in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

That same year, a team from Granada and a team from Managua played each other.

By 1904, the historic Bóer de Managua was founded by US Consul to Nicaragua, Carter Donaldson. This team is still the most popular team in Nicaragua today.

Juan Carlos Urbina dominated in a 10-9 victory for Indios del Bóer against Brumas de Jinotega in the Pomares  competition; from Leonardo Sevilla on the Bóer website. As can be seen from this report, the Bóers still continue to be a key factor in Nicaraguan baseball.

In addition to Bóer, Russia from Masaya, Japan from Granada, and Chinandega Titan would be created soon after. Many of these team names had names resembling countries or groups of people at war, as the Boers were just fighting the British in South Africa, and the Russians were fighting the Japanese in a war shortly after.

In 1914-1915, the first national league would be created with these teams. Before this, only exhibitions and municipal tournaments would be played.

International competition between Nicaraguan baseball clubs and other Central American clubs began in 1924-1925 and the Nicaraguan representatives of Bóer won, even over the champions from the USA’s Panama Canal Zone.

In 1932, the Pacific and Atlantic sides of Nicaragua had a combined competition with the Navy team coming from the Atlantic side winning all of their games. By mixing more Atlantic and Pacific Nicaraguans, the level of baseball improved. A Dominican Republic and a Cuban club would visit the country in 1932 and 1933 respectively, and would dominate in games against Nicaraguan clubs.

In preceding years, more international competition would arrive and many Cubans and (R) Dominicans would stay behind to help Nicaraguan baseball grow.

By 1935, Nicaragua and Panama would finish 2nd behind Cuba in the Central American and Caribbean Games, showing that at the national team level, Nicaragua was very good.

Baseball continued to improve and in 1956, Nicaragua created a professional league which at first was considered a Single-A level and independent as it was played during the summer. In 1957, it would become a winter league at the Triple-A level and would start to compete in various Latin American competitions.

Nicaraguan baseball was doing so well that in 1958, León (Nicaragua) won the Pan-American series over teams from Mexico and Colombia, and then in 1964, Cinco Estrellas (Nicaragua) won the Interamerican Series over teams from Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

These wins were short-lived though, because in 1967, the professional league would cease to exist. Political and economic tensions brought a period of purely amateur baseball to Nicaragua, which allowed Nicaragua to still do well on the international stage, but only at the amateur levels of the sport.

During these years, Nicaragua began to excell in these national team competitions like the Baseball World Cup, as just like Cuba, their highest domestic competition was amateur and thus Nicaragua were able to compete with a lot of their best players.

Nicaragua won two silver medals in 1939 and 1949 in Cuba at the Baseball World Cup, as well as two bronze medals in 1947 in Colombia and in 1953 in Venezuela. But, after 1967, Nicaragua went on to win even more. Nicaragua won three more silver medals (1973 in Nicaragua, 1974 in USA, and 1990 in Canada), as well as three more bronze medals (1971 in Cuba, 1972 in Nicaragua, and 1998 in Italy).

Nicaragua got the right to host the amateur baseball world championship five times: 1948, 1950, 1972, 1973, and 1994.

These facts displayed Nicaragua’s high standing among the world baseball community.

Nicaragua also did well in other competitions. Nicaragua finished third four times at the Intercontinental Cup, has won two silver medals and two bronze medals so far at the Pan American Games, has won four silver medals and three bronze medals so far in the Central American and Caribbean Games, and has won seven gold medals and three silver medals so far in the Central American Games.

Perhaps, their most spectacular achievement has been at the Olympic Games where Nicaragua finished in the Top 5 in both editions they qualified for. Nicaragua finished in fifth in the Los Angeles (USA) 1984 Summer Games and fourth in the Atlanta (USA) 1996 Summer Games. These results were probably the highest level of international baseball prior to the creation of the World Baseball Classic, and therefore should be used as a way to build confidence so that Nicaraguans know they can compete with the best.

Omar Obando Varela pitches for Nicaragua versus the USA in a baseball game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on 20 July 1996 at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, USA; photo from Rick Stewart/Getty Images.

The professional era of national team baseball coincided with the return of professional baseball in Nicaragua.

In 2004, La Liga de Beisbol Profesional Nacional (LBPN) was created and in 2006, the World Baseball Classic started.

Unfortunately for Nicaragua, the first two editions were invitational and Nicaragua did not have a chance to Qualify for the WBC because they did not receive an invite.

Then, in the 2013 Qualifiers, Nicaragua finally got its chance. They entered the qualifiers in Qualifier 3 and were eliminated by their second game, losing to Colombia, 1-8, and Panama, 2-6.

In the 2017 Qualifiers, Nicaragua were in Qualifier 2, and had a much better result. Nicaragua beat Germany 5-4, and then lost to Mexico 0-11. Nicaragua returned with a 7-6 win over the Czech Republic, and made it to the Qualifier Final. This was the closest Nicaragua had been, but they would lose to Mexico again, this time 1-12.

The 2023 Qualifiers brought a new format that would help Nicaragua. Nicaragua opened up play following a bye in Round 1 with a 1-4 loss to Brazil in the Semi-finals. But, Nicaragua would respond after this with a resounding 12-0 thrashing of Pakistan in Lower Round 1, a 6-5 win over Argentina in Lower Round 2, and then a 3-1 win over Brazil in the Lower Final to Qualify for the World Baseball Classic as the #2 team from Qualifier 2 in Panama City, Panama. Nicaragua avenged its previous loss and won when it mattered most to keep their world championship hopes alive in their nation’s favorite sport.

Now Nicaragua will get to see its national team compete in the professional world championship for the first time.

Domestically, Nicaragua is continuing to develop more and more talent.

Nicaragua has a similar domestic baseball structure to the rest of Latin America. Nicaragua features a professional winter league, La Liga de Beisbol Profesional Nacional (LBPN), and then a semi-professional/amateur baseball league the rest of the year called the Campeonato Nacional de Béisbol Superior “Germán Pomares Ordóñez” de Nicaragua (Pomares). The LBPN consists of five teams that play from October to January or sometimes as short as December to January, while the Pomares competition features 20 teams, one from each of the 17 departments/autonomous regions of Nicaragua, plus one extra team for Managua and one extra team for the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, as well as one team for the former deparment and current de facto department, Zelaya. The Pomares alternates between its length of the season, but it has sometimes lasted 6 months during the off-season of the LBPN. This long Pomares season ensures that Nicaraguans are able to continually practice their trade at a high level.

The 17 Administrative Divisions of Nicaragua; from On The World Map.
Leones de León celebrates winning the LBPN 2019-2020; from LBPN website.
Indios del Bóer celebrates winning the 2020 Pomares competition; from Baseball GPO.

This baseball development has led to some key players like Dennis Martínez, Marvin Benard, and Vicente Padilla, as well as current MLB players like Erasmo Ramírez and Jonathan Loáisiga.

Dennis Martínez, or “El Presidente” as he has been called, is considered the best player to ever come from Nicaragua as he threw the first perfect game by a Latin American-born pitcher in the MLB, and the 13th overall perfect game at the time in a game for the Montreal Expos when they were playing at Dodger Stadium in 1991. Dennis Martínez was the first Nicaraguan-born MLB player, having played for the Baltimore Orioles (1976-1986), Montreal Expos (1986-1993), Cleveland Indians (1994-1996), Seattle Mariners (1997), and the Atlanta Braves (1998). He came from Granada earning four MLB All-Star appearances (1990-1992 and 1995), as well as being inducted into the Baltimore Orioles and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Nicaragua’s 30,000 capacity and new national baseball stadium is named after Dennis Martínez: Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez.

Dennis Martínez pitching for the Montreal Expos; from La Vida Voices.
A highlight video of Dennis Martínez’s perfect game at Dodger Stadium; from Los Angeles Dodgers YouTube Channel.

Currently, Erasmo Ramírez and Jonathan Loáisiga pitch for the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees, respectively. But, there are other players that are still playing that have played in the MLB. One notable player is 2013 All-Star, Everth Cabrera, who led the NL in stolen bases in 2012. He played for the San Diego Padres (2009-2014) and the Baltimore Orioles (2015) mostly as a short stop. Since 2015, he has moved around a lot playing in Mexico, the minor leagues, and most recently in Nicaragua.

Erasmo Ramírez playing for the Seattle Mariners away at the Baltimore Orioles on 29 August 2017; from Keith Allison Hannover, Maryland, USA.
Johnathan Loáisiga pitching in his New York Yankees debut against the Tampa Bay Rays in a win at Yankee Stadium in 2018; from Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports, via Reuters.
Everth Cabrera steals third base on an error for the San Diego Padres in a 6-4 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks on 15 June 2013 at Petco Park in San Diego; from Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports.

Another notable player has to be J. C. Ramírez who has pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies (2013), the Arizona Diamondbacks (2015), the Seattle Mariners (2015), the Cincinnati Reds (2016), and the Los Angeles Angels (2016-2019), since moving around to play in Chinese Taipei and Mexico, as well as the minor leagues.

But it is probably Cheslor Cuthbert who is the best player for this story because he originates from the Corn Islands, two islands 40+ miles off the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea in the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region of Nicaragua. The Corn Islands are known by their English name even in Spanish speaking Nicaragua, and their history is most peculiar. It is a heavy English speaking and English Creole speaking part of Nicaragua, and only was fully incorporated into Nicaragua in 1894, having been controlled by the British and pirates, plus the Miskito Kingdom off and on. But, it was leased to the USA for use from 1914-1971. This meant that the US could run the islands as they pleased, so long as Nicaragua was okay with it, while Nicaragua officially still owned the islands. This is the strange part of the world Cheslor Cuthbert originated from, and it is in this part of the world that cricketers became baseballers transforming Nicaragua into a baseball nation in the 1800s. Cheslor Cuthbert’s story thus creates a full-circle Nicaraguan story because Cheslor Cuthbert continues the importance of Anglophone Nicaragua to baseball in the Land of Valconoes and Lakes. His father taught him the game in English. In fact, the only language or lanaguages Cheslor knew growing up were English and the English Creole langauge in the Corn Islands, close to Jamaican Patois. Therefore, like the Miskito baseballers that started Nicaragua’s baseball history, Cheslor belongs to the Anglophone culture of Nicaragua. He learned Spanish later when he moved to Managua at the age of 15 to become scouted better by MLB scouts. Eventually he would make it to the Major Leagues, after signing a Nicaraguan record minor league contract. In the MLB, Cheslor Cuthbart played third base and short stop for the Kansas City Royals from 2015-2019, and with the Chicago White Sox in 2020, and has since moved to the minor leagues and then to the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (LMB) for the Leones de Yucatán who won the Mexican League in September 2022 (Cheslor Cuthbart was on the inactive roster). Cheslor Cuthbert is one of many Atlantic side Nicaraguans who are continuing the baseball story in English-speaking Nicaragua at the highest levels of world baseball.

Cheslor Cuthbart for the Kansas City Royals; from The Kansas City Star.
A picture of the Corn Islands from “Top10 Recommended Hotels in Corn Islands, South Caribbean Region, Nicaragua“.
Corn Islands from Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa).

In total, 15 Nicaraguans have appeared in the MLB so far, and currently, over 30 are in MLB organizations.

Not only are baseball players highly regarded from Nicaragua, but so too are announcers. The first Spanish language MLB announcer came from Nicaragua. His name is René Cárdenas, grandson of Adán Cárdenas, the former president of Nicaragua who was also the club president of the first Pacific side sports club with baseball as mentioned before. René Cárdenas became the first Spanish language MLB radio announcer to broadcast domestically in the USA in 1958, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

In 1966, René Cárdenas became the radio announcer for the first international network for the MLB, while doing Spanish language announcing for the Houston Astros that reached 13 different Latin American nations.

René Cárdenas became well-known throughout Nicaragua for his journalism and announcing, writing for La Prensa, Nicaragua’s leading newspaper, and broadcasting for Radio Mundial, Managua’s top radio station. He then went onto to do play-by-play radio announcing for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 21 seasons, the Houston Astros for 16 seasons, and the Texas Rangers for 1 season. He even got to be an announcer for TV broadcasts in Spanish, although very sparingly, generally keeping to radio announcing and writing.

René Cárdenas on the left with his long time partner Jaime Jarrín who comes from Ecuador. These two were partners while René announced for the Los Angeles Dodgers; from Loren Elliott for The New York Times.

These Nicaraguan baseball legends have paved the way for the Nicaraguan youth, in which baseball has become their sport of choice.

While Nicaragua probably has underperformed in the youth levels for how good they have been on a consistent basis, Nicaragua has also done quite well especially for playing in a very difficult region. For example, in Little League, teams from Nicaragua have appeared three times.

Nicaragua competes in the Latin American Region for Little League with the likes of baseball giants like Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela, as well as giants like Mexico, Puerto Rico, Curaçao, and the Dominican Republic who used to play in this region for Little League World Series qualifications.

A team from Nicaragua’s Chinandega won the Latin American Region in 1968 and 1970, finishing 7th in Williamsport in 1968, and 3rd Place in Williamsport in 1970!

In 2022, Nicaragua returned via 14 de Septiembre of Managua who won the Latin American Region in dramatic fashion as Nicaragua’s “B” team, as Hermanos por Cristo of Chinandega was considered the top team and thus the “A” team. This side from the Nicaraguan capital had to get past proven sides such as a Venezuela team they defeated 10-0 to get to Williamsport. At the LLWS in Pennsylvania, Nicaragua would lose to Curaçao 0-2 in the opening round, and then had a fantastic run of wins defeating Puerto Rico 3-1, Japan 8-7, and Panama 8-1. This brought Nicaragua to the Semi-finals of the International Bracket as one of the last four teams from outside of the USA left, and one of eight teams in total left in the world. However, Nicaragua was unable to overcome a rematch with Curaçao which they lost 2-7.

This LLWS trip has resolidified the youth ranks of Nicaragua as a top nation once again.

Nicaragua wins 8-1 over Panama at the LLWS on Tuesday 23 August 2022; from AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar.

And mixing in the recent developments in professional level and youth baseball in Nicaragua with their recent infrastructure development has created an environment where baseball in Nicaragua is seen with the same enthusiasm from outside of the Central American nation as inside of it.

Nicaragua is continuing to update stadiums around its country and their most notable recent upgrade is with the new Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez in Managua, which serves as Nicaragua’s national baseball stadium. It was redone in 2017 with lots of investment from the Republic of China (aka: Chinese Taipei or Taiwan). The stadium fits Major League Baseball specifications and there are plans to feature an MLB game there in the future. This stadium, as well as renovated Estadio Nacional Rod Carew in Panama City, Panama, where Nicaragua earned Qualification for the 2023 World Baseball Classic, are considered by many as the top stadiums in the Americas outside of the USA and Canada.

Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez

The Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez serves as the home for Bóer, which is currently known as Indios del Bóer. As a top Nicaraguan side, Indios del Bóer plays in both the Pomares and the LBPN. This creates a very big rivalry with Leones de León which attracts 20,000+ supporters to games played between both a lot of times. Indios del Bóer are considered the most popular sports team in Nicaragua, and the Bóer-Leones rivalry is considered the top rivalry in Nicaragua. The Indios del Bóer have the most Pomares and LBPN national championships.

This has allowed Bóer to compete in the Latin American Series, the competition very similar to the Caribbean Series, but generally considered one level lower for the countries whose winter leagues are not as highly rated. For example, many consider the LBPN to be Double-A, while many of the Caribbean Series leagues are considered Triple-A. Despite the Bóer’s historic success, the best Nicaraguan side in the Latin American Series has been Tigres del Chinandega, who has won the Latin American Series twice, the most of any team regardless of nation. Two other Nicaraguan teams have also won the Latin American Series. Leones de León won it most recently in 2019 and Gigantes de Rivas won the Latin American Series in 2016. The other leagues represented are Liga Profesional de Béisbol Colombiano (LPB), Liga Argentina de Béisbol, Curaçao Baseball League, Liga Invernal Veracruzana de Béisbol Profesiona (Veracruz state winter league in Mexico), and Béisbol Profesional de Panamá. The LBPN has the most Latin American Series titles between all the leagues.

The Tigres del Chinandega celebrates winning the Latin American Series in 2018; from La Prenza/Jarder Flores.

In addition to the main international and national level competitions, plus the youth leagues, there also exist more regional competitions, often for municipalities for adults. The most notable is probably the Atlantic Baseball Series (Series de Beisbol del Atlantico), the local baseball competition for those just in the two Atlantic autonomous regions of Nicaragua. Clubs from all over compete in this including those from the Corn Islands and the former Miskito capital Bluefields.

Yet, despite all this high level baseball, it was not until this most recent Qualifier in Panama City, Panama that Nicaragua could call itself a World Baseball Classic nation. And for many Nicaraguans, it felt like a stain on their country’s pride had been lifted as Nicaraguans everywhere rejoiced with jubilation because they now know their coveted national baseball team will get to represent Nicaragua at the professional level with MLB talent for the first time ever!

This is where Nicaragua deserves to be.

And for the wider growth of baseball around the world, having Nicaragua there makes the game stronger and more legitimate, because when Nicaragua plays, it is full of players who are from Nicaragua and developed in the Nicaraguan leagues, playing for their local neighborhood, municipality, and department. These players have made it through a system that displays the true level of baseball in Nicaragua, just as the teams from Japan, Chinese Taipei, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama, South Korea, Colombia, Venezuela, Canada, the USA, Puerto Rico, and the Netherlands do. Now, we will get to see Nicaragua thrown into the mix of baseball blue bloods, something Nicaragua should have been given in 2006 and 2009 as an invited team. This makes Nicaragua’s qualification very special because it proves that a country of barely over 6 million people can qualify with its own people, and should inspire similar sized nations and smaller ones to continue pursuing the prospects of the World Baseball Classic by investing money into baseball.

With the WBC coming in March, Nicaragua must start the recruiting phase and see which players they will bring that will mold best for a tournament which features the best nations in the world.

While Nicaragua is among the best for players from their nation, Nicaragua will have to remember that nations like Israel, Italy, the People’s Republic of China, Great Britain, and others tend to bring a large amount of naturalized talent that makes these national teams much better, although to be fair, Italy has a large amount of domestic born players that are very good too. In addition, the Czech Republic will make an appearance, and like Nicaragua and the baseball blue bloods mentioned before, appear to have an almost completely domestic developed and born lineup, but things could change, as even Nicaragua is expected to have a few naturalized players. Nicaragua will not play the Czech Republic or Great Britain in group play, and are unlikely to play them later on.

Most importantly is Nicaragua’s focus on the main baseball nations mentioned before. Currently, Nicaragua is slated for Pool D or Pool C according to most, but could land in any of them. In Pool D, Nicaragua would have to face the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Israel, while in Pool C, Nicaragua would have to face the USA, Mexico, Canada, and Colombia. Neither pool would be easy. The other pools include Pool A with Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands, Cuba, and Italy, and Pool B with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the People’s Republic of China. The Asian pools appear to be easier, but Nicaraguans would probably prefer the American pools due to closer travel and time zones, allowing more attendance and viewership, and chances to play against regional rivals.

Nicaragua may be a newcomer to the World Baseball Classic for 2023, but they are not a newcomer to baseball, and in terms of players and support, the Nicaraguans will show the world just how much baseball and Nicaragua go together. Baseball is a sport that transcends linguistic, ethnic, historical, class, political, cultural, religious, and regional boundaries within Nicaragua itself, and once again, baseball will unite the nation in March 2023 for their first chance at the professional world championship of baseball!

Nicaragua celebrates Qualifying for the WBC; from WBSC Twitter.
Nicaragua celebrates Qualifying for the WBC; from WBSC Twitter.
Watch Nicaragua’s 3-1 victory over Brazil here.

Panama’s WBC Qualification is Huge for the Growth of Baseball

Panama 🇵🇦 is in the World Baseball Classic again for the first time since 2009.

This is huge news for baseball as one of the strongest baseball producing nations is Panama.

While certain nations have become really good in baseball recently, Panama is unique in that it produces its own players, and has one of the highest amounts of historic and current Major League Baseball players.

From RPC TV Panamá: The mid-renovation of Estadio Nacional Rod Carew, where the 2023 World Baseball Classic Qualifier 2 was held. This is Panama’s national baseball stadium and can feature 27,000+ fans!

For example, their team for the Qualifiers only featured two players not born in Panama.

Furthermore, Panama is a traditional baseball playing nation. Baseball is Panama’s sport, but it has suffered a lack of representation at the highest level of national team baseball for over a decade.

In the meantime, soccer has gained a foothold in the country with their national team almost qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and then qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

For many in the international community and Panama itself, it seemed that baseball was becoming Panama’s past time. But now, Panama will once again get to see their national baseball team on the world’s greatest stage.

To understand baseball and Panama, one must look at how Panamanian baseball became the best of Central America.

Baseball was brought to Panama before its unified rules were formally created.

According to sources, baseball was brought to Panama as early as the 1850s by American traders and Panama Railroad Company workers, an American company founded in 1855 to connect both the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean and North America and South America.

And it was not even until 1858 when baseball first gained its unified and codified rules via the National Association of Base Ball Players. Thus, in many ways, Panamanian baseball predates baseball itself.

During these years, baseball would slowly morph into Panama’s sport.

1883 is generally considered a founding date for Panama Baseball as well, because that is when the historic game between the Panama Cricket and Baseball Club from Panama City played a team from the Chiriqui Province with the Chiriqui team winning.

The new version of Estadio Kenny Serracín in David, Chiriqui (Province), Panama. It shows the level of development of baseball in Panama. Not only is the national stadium in Panama City nice and big, but so too are many of the provincial stadiums.

And, following the 1903 Panamanian independence from Colombia and the subsequent creations of the Panama Canal, and the US territory of the Panama Canal Zone (1903), Panama soon became a hot bed for high level baseball outside the integral US.

Panama and the Panama Canal Zone would become recognized for baseball talent and MLB teams would scout the two locations for potential spring training set-ups.

Eventually, teams did go to play in Panama, but this was largely after World War Two.

In terms of players, Panamanian baseball players largely suffered from the color barrier that did not allow African-Americans in the Major Leagues, so a lot of Panamanians played in the Negro Leagues that came to the USA.

But, by this time, Panama had already founded their own professional baseball league (1945) that along with Cuba’s, Puerto Rico’s, and Venezuela’s, would form the Caribbean Series (1949), which features the champions from prominent winter baseball leagues around Latin America in a tournament championship against each other. This has since grown to more nations and has become much more popular.

Eventually, Panamanians would feature in Major League Baseball by 1955, with Colón-born, Humberto Robinson, pitching for the Milwauke Brewers.

Since then, it has not been unusual to see Panamanians in the MLB.

The widely-regarded two best Panamanian MLB players have been 13x All-Star and 5x World Series Champion, Mariano Rivera, who pitched for the New York Yankees from 1995 to 2013, was the 1999 World Series MVP, and is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (Class of 2019), as well as Panama Canal Zone born Panamanian, Rod Carew, who was an 18x All-Star for the Minnesota Twins (1967-1978) and the California Angels (1979-1985), winning the 1977 AL MVP, was a 7x AL Batting Champion (1969, 1972-1975, and 1977-1978), managed both the California/Anaheim Angels (1992-1999) and the Milwauke Brewers (2000-2001), and is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (Class of 1991). Mariano Rivera is known as the best closer of all-time with the most career saves in MLB history, while Rod Carew is known as one of the best hitters of all-time, leading the AL in hits three times and in batting average seven times (as mentioned under AL Batting Champion).

From Michael Ponzini/National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: Mariano Rivera became the second pitcher to record 600 saves in his Major League Baseball career on 13 September 2011 against the Seattle Mariners.
From Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports: Mariano Rivera celebrates his introduction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a ceremony at Yankee Stadium.
From Manny Millan: Rod Carew with the Minnesota Twins in 1976.
From ESPN: Rod Carew with the Angels.

These two are not the only star MLB players to come from Panama, and currently, Panama features 9 MLB players and historically has featured 78 MLB players. For a nation with a major percentage of their population not allowed in the Major Leagues for most of its early history, this is quite impressive. Some of these other notable players include Carlos Lee, Ben Oglive, Manny Sanguillen, Carlos Ruiz, and present-day players like Angels pitcher Jamie Barría.

From Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports: Jamie Barría pitching for the Angels.

The game in Panama continues to be played at a high level with the three team professional winter league. While Panamanian winter league champions were historically in the Carribean Series, after 1960, this had seized to be the case. Similarly, the Canal Zone Champions would also not be in the Caribbean Series, despite being a top league in Latin America as well, and by the 1970s, would come to no longer exist as the Panama Canal Zone would no longer be a US Territory by 1979. But, in 2019, due to political instability in Venezuela, Panama was chosen as a surprise host for the Caribbean Series, and that season’s league champions, Toros de Herrera, won that season’s Carribean Series. They were the first side to do so from Panama since the Carta Vieja Yankees in 1950! Due to monetary issues, these two teams do not exist currently in the winter league. In addition to the Béisbol Profesional de Panamá winter league, there are other leagues played throughout the year to keep Panamanian players developed for their two to three months of professional baseball, particularly the two to three month long Liga de béisbol Mayor de Panamá, which features provincial teams, multiple being from Panamá the province itself. Usually there are 12 teams in this league. There are also provincial leagues during the other parts of the baseball season who feed into the national level league to represent these provinces.

From La Vida Baseball: Toros de Herrera (Panama) celebrates winning the 2019 Carribean Series at Estadio Nacional Rod Carew in Panama City, Panama.
From Living in Panama: Chiriqui vs Bocas Del Toro. Best 4 out of 7 wins the 2018 Championship for the Liga de béisbol Mayor de Panamá.

In addition, Panama is very good at the youth levels. Provinces also have a similar set up at the youth levels, as do the national levels for youth. These games can sometimes get up to 5,000 people. Many Panamanian youths also benefit from a well ran Little League system, that sees Panama, Puerto Rico, and Cuba rotate between each other for an automatic participation in Williamsport. Every year, two of these three nations get an automatic spot, while one has to go through other regional qualifiers. This means that two out of every three years, the Panamanian Little League Champion makes it to Pennsylvania for the LLWS, and once every three years, they may still make it.

As far as players, apart from the current Panamanian MLB players, another player is making headways who is only 21 years old, and is part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He is José Ramos. Since no MLB players played in the qualifiers, Panama had to feature all non-MLB players and yet still qualified. This is very impressive because this essentially means this team was Panama’s B Team (Note: Panama did have players that had played in the MLB and also those who were part of MLB club systems via MiLB).

Now that we get to see a return of Panama’s A Team, it will be a lot of fun to see how Panama competes.

Panama qualified for the 2023 World Baseball Classic via Qualifier 2, where they had a bye the first round, then defeated Argentina, 11-0, in the Semi-finals, and then defeated Brazil, 4-0, in the Qualifier 2 Final. All of these games happened in Panama City, Panama at the Estadio Nacional Rod Carew, the 27,000 seat national baseball stadium of Panama.

José Ramos hitting a two run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning against Brazil to put Panama up 2-0 in the Qualifier 2 Final.
José Ramos celebrating his two run home run with his teammates.
José Ramos’s swing that lifted Panama above Brazil with his two run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Panamanian Fans excited to see their nation go up 2-0 over Brazil with José Ramos’s two run home run.
Panamanian Fans playing the drums and other percussions in the stands to keep the atmosphere exciting.
LJ Jones is eying the ball as he sprints toward foul territory to try and catch an over the head ball.
LJ Jones sliding for an out in foul territory in the top of the seventh inning.
Carlos Luna gets a key strikeout to end the top of the seventh inning with a Brazilian on third base.
Carlos Luna celebrates his top of the seventh inning strikeout to strand a Brazilian on third base and keep the shutout going for Panama in their 4-0 win over Brazil to Qualify for the World Baseball Classic.

In the 2017 and 2013 qualifiers, Panama barely missed out on the World Baseball Classic with a 1-2 Qualifier Final loss to Colombia at the Estadio Nacional Rod Carew in 2017, and a 0-1 Qualifier Final loss to Brazil at the Estadio Nacional Rod Carew in 2013.

Alberto Acosta #64 of Team Panama pitches during Game 5 of the Qualifying Round of the World Baseball Classic against Team Colombia at Rod Carew National Stadium on Sunday, November 18, 2012 in Panama City, Panama. (Photo by Tito Herrera/WBCI/MLB via Getty Images)

For the 2009 and 2006 World Baseball Classic, Panama featured in both, but did not put up very inspiring results. In 2009 in Pool D at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Panama lost to Puerto Rico, 0-7, and the Dominican Republic, 0-9, suffering elimination after two games. In 2006, Panama featured in Pool C which played all its games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium as well, and Panama finished 0-3, losing to Puerto Rico, 1-2, Cuba 6-8, and the Netherlands 0-10.

Mariano Rivera and Carlos Ruiz celebrating at the World Baseball Classic.

In other competitions, Panama has done well in, but none of these are baseball at the highest and professional level.

Panama will hope to do better for the 2023 edition having barely missed out on the last two editions by 1 run in each Qualifier Final. For the 2023 Qualifiers, Panama was not messing around and took it to both Argentina and Brazil. Panama are the best team to have gone through the Qualifiers and likely will be in the Top 16 in terms of overall talent in front of the likes of Nicaragua, the People’s Republic of China, the Czech Republic, and Great Britain. If nations only got to use domestic born players, Panama would even be higher on the list, and still may be higher on the previous list as things are. It has been many years since we last saw a Panama National Team full of MLB players so Panama could very well be a Top 10 team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Panama may feel like a country devoid of the baseballing elites of the USA, Japan, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, but in fact, Panama has talent both in the present-day and in the past that rivals all these nations. The only question for Panama now is will they display this level of talent at the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

For those interested in the history of Panamanian baseball, these two links are very good: Panama Baseball: A Brief History (Audio ability) and The history of baseball in Panama.

You can rewatch Panama’s historic win over Brazil here:

From World Baseball Classic YouTube Channel

NCAA FBS Rankings Week 6:

  1. Alabama 5-0 SEC: The Crimson Tide won 49-26 over Arkansas away. Alabama dominated a very good Razorback team.
  2. Georgia 5-0 SEC: Georgia won 26-22 away against Missouri. The Bulldogs barely escaped the Tigers.
  3. Ohio State 5-0 Big Ten: The Buckeyes continue to win by huge margins defeating Rutgers 49-10.
  4. USC 5-0 Pac-12: USC struggled to separate from a failing Arizona State team, but in the end, would win 42-25 over a Sun Devils team that before, played well away against Oklahoma State. So, it is tough to know which Arizona State side USC beat.
  5. Clemson 5-0 ACC: Clemson had another Top 25 win in a row, this time defeating NC State at home, 30-20.
  6. Oklahoma State 4-0 Big 12: Oklahoma State defeated a Top 25 Baylor side, 36-25, and away, further solidifying their Top 10 status.
  7. Michigan 5-0 Big Ten: Michigan won away 27-14 over Iowa.
  8. Ole Miss 5-0 SEC: Ole Miss won a close home win over Kentucky, 22-19, in a Top 10 game.
  9. Tennessee 4-0 SEC: Tennessee had a bye week.
  10. Penn State 5-0 Big Ten: Penn State barely defeated a bad performing Northwestern team, 17-7, away. However, the Nittany Lions are  still undefeated.
  11. Oregon 4-1 Pac-12: Oregon had a good home win over Stanford 45-27. The Ducks were up 45-17 at one point.
  12. Utah 4-1 Pac-12: Utah won a huge victory over Oregon State, 42-16. The Utes have a tough game this week away to UCLA.
  13. TCU 4-0 Big 12: TCU won a huge home win over Oklahoma, 55-24. The Horned Frogs are very good this season and showed it against the Sooners.
  14. Kentucky 4-1 SEC: Kentucky barely lost, 19-22, to Ole Miss. The Wildcats can still be a CFP team if they win out.
  15. NC State 4-1 ACC: NC State lost away, 20-30, against Clemson in a close game that displayed how good the Wolfpacks can be this season.
  16. UCLA 5-0 Pac-12: UCLA had a very impressive 40-32 home win over Washington, and the Bruins were up 40-16 at one point. UCLA have a very difficult home game this Saturday against Utah. A Bruins win over the Utes could see UCLA in the Top 10.
  17. Syracuse 5-0 ACC: Syracuse won 59-0 over Wagner to go 5-0.
  18. Kansas 5-0 Big 12: Kansas won 14-11 over a good Iowa State side at home. The Jayhawks are continuing to win and be undefeated.
  19. Wake Forrest 4-1 ACC: Wake Forrest lost in overtime to Clemson a week before, send then came back with a 31-21 away win over Florida State.
  20. James Madison 5-0 Sun Belt: James Madison had a very good home win over Texas State, 40-13. The Dukes continue their undefeated season.
  21. Kansas State 4-1 Big 12: Kansas State won 37-28 over Texas Tech in a very good home win. The Wildcats’ only loss was a 10-17 loss to Tulane.
  22. Mississippi State 4-1 SEC: Mississippi State   had a big home victory over Texas A&M, 42-24. The Bulldogs are very good this season, but their schedule is very difficult.
  23. Washington 4-1 Pac-12: The Huskies suffered a setback 32-40 loss away to UCLA. Washington still have a chance to win out and make it to the CFP.
  24. Florida State 4-1 ACC: The Seminoles suffered a 21-31 home loss to Wake Forrest.
  25. Cincinnati 4-1 AAC: Cincinnati continues to win following their opening loss, this time 31-21 in an away win over Tulsa.
  • Washington State 4-1 Pac-12: Washington State had a really  good home win, 28-9, over UC Berkeley. The Cougars are doing well this season and another win this next week should mean a Top 25 spot. Unfortunately for Washington State, the Cougars have to play away to USC this week.
  • LSU 4-1 SEC: LSU won 21-17 away against Auburn. The Tigers now are close to a Top 25 team again.
  • Illinois 4-1 Big Ten: Illinois defeated Wisconsin 34-10 away and the Fighting Illini look very good this week.
  • Maryland 4-1 Big Ten: Maryland won 27-13 at home over Michigan State. The Terrapins are proving to play like a Top 25 team, and their only loss was away to Michigan.
  • Duke 4-1 ACC: Duke won 38-17 over Virginia at home. The Blue Devils’ only loss was an away loss to Top 25 Kansas.
  • South Alabama 4-1 Sun Belt: South Alabama had a very good win away over Louisiana-Lafayette, 20-17. The Jaguars only loss so far this season was a 31-32 away loss against undefeated UCLA.
  • Liberty 4-1 Independent: Liberty won an away game over Old Dominion 38-24. Liberty’s only loss so far is a 36-37 away loss to Top 25 Wake Forrest.
  • Minnesota 4-1 Big Ten: Minnesota suffered their first loss, 10-20 to Purdue at home.
  • North Carolina 4-1 ACC: North Carolina dominated Virginia Tech at home, 41-10, to improve to 4-1.
  • BYU 4-1 Independent: BYU beat rivals Utah State 38-26.

  1. SEC: 39-5; Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi State, LSU, Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn, South Carolina, Missouri, Vanderbuilt
  2. Big 12: 26-5; Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, West Virginia
  3. Pac-12: 24-9; USC, Oregon, Utah, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, UC Berkeley, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Colorado
  4. ACC: 32-11; Clemson, NC State, Wake Forrest, Syracuse, Florida State, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Miami (Florida), Louisville, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Boston College
  5. Big Ten: 30-10; Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Rutgers, Northwestern, Nebraska
  6. Sun Belt: 27-20; James Madison, South Alabama, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, Marshall, Old Dominion, Troy, Southern Mississippi, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Lousiana-Lafayette, Texas State, Georgia State
  7. AAC: 22-18; Cincinnati, Tulane, Memphis, UCF, Houston, SMU, Tulsa, East Carolina, Temple, South Florida, Navy
  8. C-USA: 21-25; Western Kentucky, UTSA, Middle Tennessee State, UAB, Rice, North Texas, UTEP, FAU, Louisiana Tech, FIU, Charlotte
  9. Mountain West: 23-26; San José State, UNLV, Wyoming, Air Force, Boise State, San Diego State, Fresno State, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah State, Colorado State, Hawaii
  10. MAC: 15-30; Kent State, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio) Ohio, Ball State, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Akron

Independents: 15-20; BYU, Notre Dame, Liberty, UCONN, Army, New Mexico State, UMASS

Photo from Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

The NRF Seizes Crucial Territory in Afghanistan

The Battle for Afghanistan is far from over.

The people do not want the Taliban in power by a wide margin, but the Taliban have a lot of the military strength.

Currently, the main group fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan is the National Resistance Front (NRF).

The National Resistance Front is for all Afghans, but is led by ethnic Tajiks like Ahmad Massoud, son of the famous Lion of Panjshir.

While the NRF have held out in crucial areas of the Panjshir Valley, recently, the NRF has been expanding out. A key part of their plan is about getting border land so that they can create some sort of a contiguous territory that includes a foreign nation to operate from.

The NRF did that this week, reportedly capturing Shekey District of the Badakhshan Province. This district borders Tajikistan, and Tajikistan is an alleged ally of the NRF.

According to credible sources, the two leaders of the NRF, Ahmad Massoud and Amrullah Saleh, live in Tajikistan. This will mean that Tajikistan and the NRF will be able to transport more goods and materials into NRF-controlled territory without having to pass Taliban-controlled land.

But, it must be stated that to get to all NRF-controlled territory, you still have to pass Taliban-controlled land. NRF does not have contiguous control of their controlled territories.

Nonetheless, this report of the NRF capturing the Shekey District is one small step in the plan to unite the North and then the whole country.

The NRF is a successor to the Northern Alliance that returned the de jure leaders back to power in 2001 with the help of NATO and other allies. Currently, the NRF is fighting to return the de jure leaders of Afghanistan back into power as well.

The Shekey District is not the only district the NRF controls that borders Tajikistan. There is one more piece of border territory the NRF controls. Besides this, all non-Taliban controlled land is inland in Afghanistan, and away from the borders.

Updates on 2022 FIFA World Cup Teams



  • Brazil versus Ghana from Le Harve, France

Brazil dominated Ghana and should have won 6-1 or something like that. Instead, Brazil won 3-0. The first half was completely all-Brazil, but the second half displayed a strong Ghanian side. Despite this, Brazil still outplayed Ghana in the second half overall as well. Brazil look to be the favorites in Group G with Switzerland, Serbia, and Cameroon.

  • Brazil versus Tunisia from Paris, France

Brazil defeated a good Tunisia side 5-1 in a very impressive fashion. Brazil already looks like they are in World Cup form. Some of their goals were spectacular and this was against a good defensive team. Brazil cemented their favorite status for Group G, but Switzerland and Serbia are both playing very well too, while Cameroon is not playing good.


  • Argentina versus Honduras from Miami Gardens, USA

Argentina defeated Honduras 3-0 in a match which Argentina dominated almost completely with 17 (8) shots to Honduras’s 2 (0) and with 68% possession. Honduras had a few mishaps that led to 2 of Argentina’s goals, so Honduras actually played quite well compared to how they played in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Argentina also played well because it was their pressure that forced Honduras into these mistakes, and Argentina could have scored many more goals. Argentina defeated a regular World Cup quality side handily and in neutral territory in their opponent’s continent. As such, Argentina looks like the clear favorites in Group C in front of Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia.

  • Jamaica versus Argentina from Harrison, USA

Argentina closed out their international break with a close match against Jamaica, where they led 1-0 from the 13th Minute until Leonel Messi took over and scored in the 86th and 89th Minutes to win the match 3-0. Argentina outshot Jamaica 17 (8) to 2 (0) and held 66% possession. Jamaica are one of the top teams in North America, but they often are not able to have all their top players at once, limiting their World Cup Qualifying performances. But at the Gold Cup, you often see Jamaica competitive with the best nations in North America. So, Argentina’s win was good. But, there is a worry that Argentina’s defense got beat a few times on counter attacks. Argentina needs to clean this up when they play in Group C with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland.


  • IR Iran versus Uruguay from Sankt Pölten, Austria

Uruguay did well to dominate on the statistics against Iran, but they failed to score in a 0-1 defeat and this lack of scoring efficiency has plagued Uruguay for a while now. In the World Cup Group H, Uruguay will need to have their scoring boots on to advance. Group H may favor Uruguay, but both South Korea and Portugal are big goal scoring nations, while Ghana is yet to impress.

  • Canada versus Uruguay from Bratislava, Slovakia

Uruguay dominated Canada 2-0 and could have won 6-0. Uruguay looked very good against a good Canada side. Uruguay is back to being a favorite to advance out of Group H.


  • Saudi Arabia versus Ecuador from Murcia, Spain

Ecuador played in a very competitive match against Saudi Arabia 0-0. While Ecuador probably should have played better, they still did well enough to tie a World Cup side. In Group A, it may be difficult to advance, but they displayed the potential to advance in a group with Senegal, the Netherlands, and Qatar. They are still the favorites for #3 in the group.

  • Ecuador versus Japan from Düsseldorf, Germany

Ecuador played a very good match against Japan, 0-0. The score could have been 5-5 and displayed a World Cup level of play. Ecuador could do well in Group A and advance if they play like this at the World Cup.



  • France versus Austria from Saint-Denis, France

France looked really good against Austria. They won 2-0, but it could have been and should have been more. The only issue for France is that they might over rely on Mbappe. Nevertheless, there is so much talent on France’s squad that they should be able to rely on others too.

  • Denmark versus France from Copenhagen, Denmark

France lost 0-2 away to Denmark and France are failing to impress. While they are good enough to win their group and more, France just keeps messing up. However, they did have a big win over Austria and have competed well against Croatia and Denmark, and all three teams should be better than Australia and Tunisia, meaning that France should advance. They are still favored to win their group, which also features Denmark.


  • Belgium versus Wales from Brussels, Belgium

Belgium started off on fire led by Kevin De Bruyne going up 2-0 early. But, the Beglians could not close out the match as the Welsh came back to bring it within 1. The final score stayed Belgium 2 Wales 1. It was a good result for Belgium because we got to see attacking and goal scoring De Bruyne. If De Bruyne leads Belgium like he did against Wales, then Belgium will have extra fire power for Group F.

  • Netherlands versus Belgium from Amsterdam, Netherlands

Belgium suffered a set back in a 0-1 away loss to the Netherlands in a match Belgium was slightly outshot. Belgium needs improvement. Despite being co-favorites with Croatia for Group F, Belgium cannot simply play at this level or risk falling behind two teams at least, with Croatia, Morocco, and Canada in Group F.


  • Italy versus England from Milan, Italy

England struggled against Italy in a match which Italy could have won a lot more convincingly. The English only lost 0-1, and away, but with this loss, England have been relegated to UEFA Nations League B for the next edition. England has been abysmal in the last few months, and their Italian showing displayed a 2014 like England rather than a 2018 like England.

  • England versus Germany from Brent, England

England played well to come back down 0-2 to tie 3-3 against Germany. But this was against a weaker German side at home where they still gave up their own 3-2 lead they had from a comeback. Their goalkeeping does not appear good enough to hold onto leads, unless they improve massively between now and the World Cup. The talent is there for England, but it is also clouded by the inflated price tags, a characteristic of both the Group B co-favorites to advance, the USA and as mentioned England. Wales and Iran feature more economical players, but there is also another reason for that, they are not as talented. So, Group B looks wide open as England once again fails to implant their flag on the game. However, despite this disappointing draw, England has appeared to wake up on the scoring end. If England does have their shooting boots on, they will win this group without defense. Unless one of the other teams’ attackers wake up too. England benefits from some lucky calls such as the penalty call they received for their 3rd goal and from a superior attack to most nations, especially those in Group B.


  • Spain versus Switzerland from Zaragoza, Spain

Spain had a difficult match with Switzerland losing 1-2, and at home. Spain had 75% possession, but the shots were very equal, both having 8 and Switzerland having more shots on target, 5-4. Spain needs to correct this because their biggest issue last World Cup was also their lack of goal scoring despite superior possession. Spain needs to be much better. They have a difficult group because both Japan and Costa Rica look really good, and then Germany is really good too.

  • Portugal versus Spain from Braga, Portugal

Spain won 1-0 late away against Portugal to win Group 2 in UEFA Nations League A to advance to the UEFA Nations League Semi-finals. Spain and Portugal played a very even match and Spain came away with the win, and with the help of superior goalkeeping. Spain should be able win Group E if their goalkeeping is this good. However, if their attacking is not better, they may struggle in Group E against Costa Rica and Germany due to their goalkeeping, and even Japan who had good goalkeeping in their last match.


  • Germany versus Hungary from Leipzig, Germany

Germany suffered a close home loss to Hungary 0-1. If this would have happened a while back, when Hungary was losing a lot, this would have been very bad. But, Hungary has turned themselves into a top team in the world, they just made this change after the World Cup Qualifiers and European Championship. So, their only results that show this is in the UEFA Nations League where they are leading Group 3. The Germans did not outshoot Hungary by much, only 10 (3) to 7 (3), but Germany did dominate the possession. Regardless, Germany are still one of the two favorites to advance out of Group E at the World Cup.

  • England versus Germany from Brent, England

Germany tied England 3-3 away, and then Hungary lost 0-2 to Italy. With that being said, Germany closed the day in a worse place than before. While their attack seems good, their defense seems bad. And while their Hungary loss previously looked okay, now it looks less than okay because Hungary did not win their Nation’s League Group. Germany are supposed to advance with Spain out of their group with Costa Rica and Japan, but if Japan continues to dominate and Costa Rica continues to play electricly, this group could be the surprise of the tournament. Both Japan and Costa Rica look good in the attack, while Spain looks wasteful and Germany looks weak in their defensive set up, despite their talent back there. Plus, Costa Rica and Japan feature lots of speed, and if England could counter-attack well, so can Costa Rica and Japan. If England could finish, this score would have read England 5 Germany 3. Likewise, you can expect a goal scoring festival from Costa Rica and Japan if their finishing is good and Germany play the same way defensively.


  • Czech Republic versus Portugal from Prague, Czech Republic

Portugal did very well against the Czech Republic away, winning 4-0. The Czechs are a high level team that would compete well Group H, the group Portugal is in. The Portuguese will play Uruguay, South Korea, and Ghana, three teams that this performance would win against all those teams with. Portugal are thus the #1 favorite in Group H, ahead of even Uruguay who fell off recently with a loss to Iran.

  • Portugal versus Spain from Braga, Portugal

Portugal lost 0-1 late against Spain at home. While Portugal struggled to score, they created lots of opportunities. They just could not get past Spain’s superior goalkeeping. Portugal are still the favorite to win Group H despite the loss.


  • Poland versus Netherlands from Warsaw, Poland

The Netherlands dominated Poland 2-0 and made the Polish look like a bad team. The Dutch continue to improve and look like the clear favorites to finish 1st in Group A in the FIFA World Cup.

  • Netherlands versus Belgium from Amsterdam, Netherlands

Netherlands defeated Belgium 1-0 at home in a match they outshot Beligum, 13 (5) to 11 (4). The Netherlands thus won Group 4 of UEFA Nations League A, and advanced to the Semi-finals. The Netherlands are playing like the clear favorites in Group A at the World Cup, in front of Senegal, Ecuador, and Qatar.


  • Croatia versus Denmark from Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia displayed a diversity of scoring against Denmark and was successful winning 2-1. Croatia had been seen as too reliant on Luka Modrić the last 4 years, but against Denmark, other players showed up. This bodes well for Croatia in Group F which will include 3 other tough teams. Furthermore, it was a battle for 1st Place in Group 1 of UEFA Nations League A. Croatia successfully took possession of 1st place, but will still have one more match to play to keep hold of it.

  • Austria versus Croatia from Vienna, Austria

Croatia won another match 3-1 and this one away, over Austria, and won Group 1 of the UEFA Nations League A to advance to the Semi-finals next year! Croatia, however, did not play as well as Austria in terms of shots, being outshot 10 (5) to 18 (6). But they did hold the possession 54% to 46%. Croatia needs to do better, but their performance should be good enough to beat Belgium, Morocco, and Canada and win Group F.


  • Croatia verse Denmark from Zagreb, Croatia

Denmark lost a close one to Croatia away, 1-2. But they were competitive throughout the match displaying a good level of play. Despite the loss, Denmark is still one of the two favorites with France to advance out of Group D at the World Cup.

  • Denmark versus France from Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark defeated France 2-0 at home with a very even shot and possession battle: 16 (7) to 17 (7) and 48% to 52%. Denmark continue to prove they can beat any team in the world. Denmark are likely to either win their group or finish 2nd with France, and in front of Australia and Tunisia.


  • Spain versus Switzerland from Zaragoza, Spain

Switzerland continually impressed in Qualifiers and Group play, but their issue is knockout rounds. They need to continue to improve even in Group format though because their group at the World Cup features Brazil, Serbia, and Cameroon. Switzerland did very well against Spain winning 2-1 away, but Serbia and Brazil look amazing. So, the Swiss just have to keep improving like they did against Spain.

  • Switzerland versus Czech Republic from St. Gallen, Switzerland

Switzerland beat the Czech Republic in a back to back affair where the Swiss came out on top, 2-1 at home. The Swiss and Czech played at such a high level, but the Swiss need to step their game up even more to advance out of Group G with Brazil, Serbia, and Cameroon.


  • Serbia versus Sweeden from Belgrade, Serbia

Serbia defeated Sweden 4-1 in Serbia, a huge win for the Serbians who are in a very tough group with Brazil, Switzerland, and Cameroon. Serbia will advance out of Group G if they play like they did against Sweden, who are very good themselves. Furthermore, Serbia has the best striker in the group, Aleksandar Mitrović.

  • Norway versus Serbia from Oslo, Norway

Serbia handled their business against Norway, winning UEFA Nations League B Group 4 over Norway who sat just three points back. Serbia won comfortably 2-0 and are now in UEFA Nations League A for next season. Serbia’s biggest strength is its goalscorer, Alexandar Mitrović, who has the ability to score every match.


  • Poland versus Netherlands from Warsaw, Poland

Poland was bad against the Netherlands losing 0-2, and looked completely out of place, and this was at home in Warsaw. This loss really exposed Poland as a team that might have little to no chance to advance out of Group C, despite being neck to neck in talent with Group C 2nd place favorites, Mexico.

  • Wales versus Poland from Cardiff, Wales

Poland defeated Wales in a very even match, away, 1-0. This was a good win by Poland. But, Poland should have not won. Wales dominated with 13 (3) shots to 6 (3) shots. Poland, however, are playing as well as both Mexico and Saudi Arabia so Poland could make it out of their World Cup group with the way they are playing now. However, they should improve, because Mexico tends to make it out and Argentina looks really good right now.


  • Belgium versus Wales from Brussels, Belgium

Wales has height in 6’5″ Kieffer Moore. With his superior height, and other really good players like Gareth Bale, the Welsh now appear to be the #2 team in Group B. But this is only because they performed well against Belgium by keeping the score within balance losing 1-2 away. Iran finally played well and the USA finally played bad. But, the USA will probably rebound and then become the #2 or #1 favorites for Group B again depending on how England does.

  • Wales versus Poland from Cardiff, Wales

Wales lost to Poland 0-1 and were relegated from UEFA Nations League A. Wales looked the better side with a lot more shots 13 (3) to 6 (3), but they failed to win in this group, only achieving 1 point. The USA, England, and Iran should all be eager to play Wales as surely they would have done better or just as well in this UEFA Nations League group, but at the same time, Wales has played competitively against all these World Cup quality teams in this group such as Belgium, the Netherlands, and Poland.



  • Japan versus USA from Düsseldorf, Germany

The USA looked really bad against Japan losing 0-2. The USA chose the wrong lineup and were careless in the defense making lots of errand back passes. The USA looked like they would finish last in their group as they were thoroughly outplayed, being out shot 4 (0) to 16 (8). The USA turned the ball over way too much, and they appear to lack depth. The only good thing to come from the match for the USA was that the USA appears to have found their starting goalkeeper, Matt Turner. He was the only player who did well against Japan.

  • Saudi Arabia versus USA from Murcia, Spain

The USA look awful so far. Their 0-0 tie against Saudi Arabia showed no signs of promise and they probably should have lost.


  • Mexico versus Peru from Pasadena, USA

Mexico defeated Peru, 1-0, in Pasadena, USA. But Mexico looked too even with Peru. While Peru is a good team, there is a reason they are not in the World Cup, and Mexico will need to play better than rely on a late goal to advance out of Group C with Saudi Arabia, Poland, and Argentina. The good news is that Mexico is playing better than Poland and Saudi Arabia right now, and are still the #2 favorite in this group.

  • Mexico versus Colombia from Santa Clara, USA

Mexico had an electric first half against Colombia where they went up 2-0 and could have been up by more. But then, in the second half, Colombia thoroughly demolished Mexico, eneding up winning the match 3-2. This 2-3 loss from Mexico will add fire to the team that needs it. They displayed they have the talent to compete well, but now they just have to put that together for two halves. Mexico are still probably the #2 favorites from their group which features Argentina, Poland, and Saudi Arabia.


  • Canada versus Qatar from Vienna, Austria

Canada dominated Qatar 2-0 and could have won 5-0. Canada looks like a Group F favorite due to their dominant play. The only issue for Canada is that World Cup Group F features Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco, meaning that Canada is still fighting for 3rd place in the group according to the bookies.

  • Canada versus Uruguay from Bratislava, Skovakia

Canada suffered a 0-2 loss and should have lost by much more. Canada took a major step backwards with this thrashing defeat to Uruguay. Nonetheless, Canada still is a strong contender for Group F, but are the weakest team at this point with Morocco, Belgium, and Croatia.

Costa Rica:

  • South Korea versus Costa Rica from Goyang, South Korea

Costa Rica went to South Korea and played a true away match and tied 2-2 with their second string goal keeper. They also had a goal called back for offsides which was debatable, and the second goal by South Korea was after a red card on Costa Rica’s goalkeeper who had been deemed to have handled the ball outside of the box. Therefore, a non goalkeeper had to stop a shot from right on the edge of the box. The free kick was perfect and South Korea tied. When you look at all of these factors, Costa Rica was the better team in an away environment against a good World Cup side with one of the Premier League’s best players. With Keylor Navas as goalkeeper, Costa Rica will undoubtedly play better and playing better would have seen Costa Rica put up a good match against Spain, Japan, and Germany who feature in their World Cup group. Therefore, Costa Rica looks back to being elite again, they just need to clean a few things up. They are still not favorites to advance out of Group E, but at the same time, no one thinks Costa Rica is not completely capable of advancing now.

  • Costa Rica versus Uzbekistan from Suwon, South Korea

Uzbekistan dominated almost the whole match against Costa Rica and should have had like three goals. Uzbekistan went up 1-0 in the 25th Minute and they continued to be the superior side. Costa Rica’s goalkeeping was good, but overall Costa Rica was super sloppy. But, Costa Rica’s second half was much better. Despite still playing worse, Costa Rica kept the score 0-1. And then, in stoppage time, Costa Rica scored two goals, one in the 90th Minute +2, and one in the 90th Minute +4. Costa Rica ended up winning the match 2-1. Costa Rica will hope that they can replicate this style of match in the World Cup against some of the giants such as Germany and Spain in their Group E. But, this was against Uzbekistan, a team they should be dominating. Not that Uzbekistan is not good. Uzbekistan is actually quite good and it is a shame they have yet to feature in a World Cup, a lot of it down to pure bad luck it seems, but they are still far behind the likes of Germany and Spain, and they are also behind Japan too. Costa Rica will need to work on not turning over the ball so much. And, they will need to work on speed at the back. These two improvements combined with their goalkeeping, assuming it stays elite, will allow Costa Rica to battle Germany and Spain and make it close, possibly even winning. Against Japan, they would be smart to have these improvements, but they could probably stay close playing the way they have been playing the last two friendlies.



  • Senegal versus Bolivia from Orléans, France

Senegal defeated Bolivia 2-0 in a match which Senegal dominated. Senegal had many shots and while the second goal came from a penalty, the other shots probably should have gone in. That is to say though, that there has to be a slight concern that Senegal struggled to create normal goals against Bolivia because one was from outside the box from a turnover and another was from a debatable penalty foul, and also from a turnover. Against better teams and with a better ref, Senegal may have scored 0 goals. But, at the same time, Senegal deserved to have many more goals today, and Bolivia are a solid international side. So, Senegal still look like the Group A #2 team behind the Netherlands. And given the issues the teams in Group B have been having, a Quarter-final or further is likely as of now.

  • IR Iran versus Senegal from Bratislava, Slovakia

Senegal looked good in their 1-1 tie against Iran, but their failure to produce their own goals looks like a potential foreshadowing that might limit the Senegalese ability to advance out of Group A. Their goal was off an own goal. Still, Senegal should have scored more and looked the better team. This bodes well for Senegal’s hopes in Group A and at the World Cup.


  • Morocco versus Chile from Cornellà de Llobregat and El Prat de Llobregat, Spain

Chile may not be a World Cup team for 2022, at least not yet, but they are a World Cup Quality team. They have lots of talent and would be a favorite to get to the Round of 16 had they qualified. Yet, Morocco was able to win 2-0! Morocco did get generous calls/no calls that led to their first goal on a penalty kick. And their second goal was a power shot from outside the box. But overall, they were the much better team. Morocco did not mess around with possession only possessing 43%, but in shots, they outshot Chile 20 (5) to 3 (2)! This style of play works for Morocco because Morocco will play in a group with Belgium, Croatia, and Canada. This style of play will not work against Canada, but it will trap Croatia and Belgium who will probably be content with possession, but give up counter attacks and potentially lots of shots. Morocco needs to continue to improve because as of now, they are still consider the #3 team with Canada in the group. And all four nations in Group F won their first matches this international break, and each in an impressive manner.

  • Morocco versus Paraguay from Sevilla, Spain

Both Morocco and Paraguay played very well in their 0-0 match against each other. Morocco played better, and should have had a goal or two, while Paraguay also should have had a goal. Morocco’s style of play, if the shots go in, will put the Atlas Lions in a good position to advance out of Group F, but they still should not. Croatia and Belgium are still playing better. So, Morocco still needs improvement.


  • Tunisia versus Comoros from Orléans, France

Tunisia defeated Comoros in a very entertaining friendly match, 1-0, where both sides had lots of chances and both goalkeepers saved lots of shots. The goalkeepers were both terrific and the level of play was quite high, except on the goal Tunisia scored as Comoros forgot to mark the free man in the box on a cross, leading to a goal off of a header. Comoros are an interesting opposition. Historically, they are quite weak, but recently, they are a Top 16 team in Africa, having qualified for the African Cup of Nations in 2022 and having advanced as far as the Round of 16. Therefore, Comoros is a good national team in its current form. However, Tunisia needs to be able to compete and defeat great teams at the World Cup. Tunisia plays in Group D with France, Denmark, and Australia. Each of these nations would be favored to beat Comoros, and are considered better. But, I do not think Tunisia should worry. For their first match in the international break, they won, and both Tunisia and Comoros were competing at a high level. If Tunisia can replicate this play, as well as their goalkeeper, then Tunisia has a very good chance to beat France, Denmark, or Australia, in any combination. This means advancement is possible.

  • Brazil versus Tunisia from Paris, France

Tunisia lost 1-5 to Brazil. Tunisia were completely outplayed and overmatched. But it was not really Tunisia playing bad, rather it was more Brazil playing amazingly well. Nonetheless, Tunisians expect more from their Carthage Lions and should. Tunisia will play France, Australia, and Denmark in Group D at the World Cup. They will need to clean up their play. One sign of great worry is that Tunisia still have not learned how to defend corner kicks. For Tunisia to advance, they will need to stop tackling people going for headers.


  • Brazil versus Ghana from Le Havre, France

Ghana suffered a 0-3 defeat to Brazil that probably should have been worse. But also, Ghana should have scored a goal too. Ghana improved as the match went on. In the first half, Ghana was lucky they were not down 0-5 or worse. But in the second half, a fair scoreline would have read 1-2. Ghana faired much better in the second half and their new players started to gel just a little bit. However, they still appear to he the weak team in Group H, behind Portugal, South Korea, and Uruguay.

  • Ghana versus Nicaragua from Lorca, Spain

Ghana had a close match with Nicaragua where they won 1-0. Nicaragua is not a Top 16 North American side so it is quite alarming for Ghana’s hopes to advance out of Group H. But, Ghana did very well throughout this match. So, Ghana might be better than we think, and maybe even Nicaragua is better too.


  • Cameroon versus Uzbekistan from Goyung, South Korea

Cameroon were outplayed by Uzbekistan on Friday as the Uzbekis won 2-0. Cameroon has some moving parts and Uzbekistan has consistently been one of the next teams out of the World Cup, barely failing to qualify on so many occasions. So, it was not as bad of a result as it could appear to be given many people’s lack of knowledge on Central Asian football. But, still, this result suggests Cameroon are clearly the worst team in Group G.

  • South Korea versus Cameroon from Seoul, South Korea

Cameroon needs to be better in order to compete in Group G with Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland. In their two friendlies, they were outmatched and did not look at the level needed to do well at a World Cup. In the meantime, we saw plenty of nations that did not qualify do much better. Cameroon needs to improve or they will lose all 3 matches in Group G, and they may not even be close losses. Cameroon may have only lost to South Korea 0-1, but it should have been much worse.


IR Iran:

  • IR Iran versus Uruguay from Sankt Pölten, Austria

Iran had a successful win over Uruguay 1-0. However, the Iranians were outshot and out possessed, and should have lost. But, their ability to defend under pressure is what will make Iran difficult to beat in Group B for England, the USA, and Wales. In this match, Iran not only defended well, but they also had good shooting efficiency, scoring a goal on limited shots.

  • IR Iran versus Senegal from Bratislava, Slovakia

Iran looks very good for the style of play they wish to play in Group B. This style of play is a little bit like a José Mourinho team where they do not wish to dominate possession or shots, rather they just care about results and playing defensively. With tall strikers like Sardar Azmoun scoring goals, this bodes well because all three nations in Iran’s group are struggling to defend against tall strikers. As long as Iran keeps crossing well, their chances of advancing are very high.

South Korea:

  • South Korea versus Costa Rica from Goyang, South Korea

South Korea did well to comeback and tie Costa Rica 2-2. However, South Korea should have been down by more. South Korea needs to continue to clean up their play so they can compete against Uruguay, Ghana, and Portugal. Ironically though, because of Ghana’s and Uruguay’s play, South Korea now looks like the #2 team in Group H.

  • South Korea versus Cameroon from Seoul, South Korea

South Korea did very well in their match against Cameroon, but only scored one goal. South Korea did win 1-0, but they will need to play better in Group H to advance with the likes of Portugal, Uruguay, and Ghana. As it looks right now, South Korea should get 1 win, and maybe 1 tie. They need improvement on their finishing because they probably should have won 3-1 or 4-1 against Cameroon.


  • Japan versus USA from Düsseldorf, Germany

Japan looked really good pressuring the USA while the USA were in their defensive half and converting these turnovers into shots, scoring two of these shots. They had 16 shots and 8 on target. On defense, the Japanese held the USA to just 4 total shots, and 0 on target, completing a clean sheet with a 2-0 win. While Japan are still not favorites to advance in Group E which features Spain, Germany, and Costa Rica, they are edging closer to getting to that level. They took a big step against the USA edging closer to an elite level of play.

  • Japan versus Ecuador from Düsseldorf, Germany

Japan did very well against Ecuador in a 0-0 tie. Japan could have tied 5-5. It was such a high level of play that was at a World Cup level, so much so that this 0-0 tie was super exciting. Japan’s goalkeeping was very good too. If Japan plays like this, Japan can advance from Group E despite what many people may think. They are playing that well.


  • Australia versus New Zealand from Brisbane, Australia

Australia had a back and forth match with New Zealand in a Classic Oceania Derby. Australia won 1-0, but it was very close. The match was not just a rivalry but also a historic match, the Centenary of the rivalry too. This heightened pressures and importance. Despite New Zealand being a very good team right now, Australia still did not impress as much as they should have. Australia is in Group D with France, Denmark, and Tunisia. All three of these teams look really good so far, and this means they too would probably beat New Zealand. So, Australia needs to show improvement next match to really give the people a reason to believe they can advance past the group stage.

  • New Zealand versus Australia from Auckland, New Zealand

Australia did better on their second try against New Zealand winning 2-0. The match was a true away match and was even, but Australia held most of the advantages. The Aussies should be confident going into the World Cup as the Socceroos displayed consistent play against a side that almost made the World Cup, but Australia are still not favored to advance from their group.

Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Arabia versus Ecuador from Murcia, Spain

Saudi Arabia played very well in their 0-0 tie against Ecuador. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both scheduling friendly matches throughout October and November as all their players play in their own domestic leagues. This means Saudi Arabia will get better as they get closer to the World Cup. With Mexico and Poland both not playing at their best recently, a very good Saudi Arabia could upset these nations to advance out of Group C. The other nation in their group is Argentina which has been playing very well.

  • Saudi Arabia versus USA from Murcia, Spain

Saudi Arabia probably should have won against the USA, but still were unimpressive in their 0-0 tie. Saudi Arabia displayed they are able to compete with World Cup teams during this international break, but they did not display they could beat World Cup level teams.


  • Qatar versus Croatia U-23 from Weiner Neustadt, Austria

Croatia u-23 defeated Qatar 3-0. This match displayed that Qatar needs to keep playing more and more to be able to compete and possibly get back up to their 2019 Asia Cup Champions level or their 2021 Gold Cup Semi-finals level. Qatar works like a club team, and they will have a lot more friendlies coming up. As they play more and more, expect Qatar to get much better. As for Croatia u-23, how is this team that good? While Croatia’s senior team is so good, it would be a very good match for them to beat Qatar 3-0. Zlatko Dalić may have to look at this Croatia u-23 team and take some with him to Qatar if they are this good.

  • Canada versus Qatar from Vienna, Austria

Qatar lost to Canada, 0-2, but it should have been a lot worse. Not only does Qatar’s uniforms look worse, so does their team. But, luckily for Qatar, because all their national team plays in the Qatari League, they will continue to play for the Qatar National Team for the next two months prior to the World Cup in training and friendlies. The Qataris hope this will bring back their momentum to start winning again by the time they play their first match in Group A.

  • Chile versus Qatar from Vienna, Austria

Qatar looked much better against Chile. Despite Chile not being a World Cup team, they are still the nation that was Top 4 just five years ago. This team has lots of talent, and would probably be favored to advance from Group A, or at least with Senegal be battling for #2. So, Qatar’s 2-2 tie displayed Qatar’s high level of play they are capable of playing. Also, Qatar showed lots of effort. For Qatar to advance out of Group A with the Netherlands, Ecuador, and Senegal, Qatar will need to be willing to put pressure on each nation that tries to play from the back, and will need to display lots of running. Qatar is lucky too because just like Saudi Arabia, both sides will continue to play friendlies through the next two months before the World Cup starts. This means we should see improvements from Qatar to the point where they may advance out of Group A.

Power Rankings for this International Break:

  1. Brazil
  2. Argentina
  3. Netherlands
  4. Croatia
  5. France
  6. Spain
  7. Portugal
  8. Denmark
  9. Belgium
  10. Germany
  11. England
  12. Serbia
  13. Switzerland
  14. Iran
  15. Uruguay
  16. Japan
  17. Senegal
  18. Costa Rica
  19. South Korea
  20. Mexico
  21. Ecuador
  22. Wales
  23. Canada
  24. Morocco
  25. Poland
  26. Australia
  27. Saudi Arabia
  28. USA
  29. Tunisia
  30. Qatar
  31. Cameroon
  32. Ghana

Power Rankings since after the 2018 FIFA World Cup:

  1. Brazil
  2. Argentina
  3. France
  4. Portugal
  5. England
  6. Belgium
  7. Spain
  8. Denmark
  9. Netherlands
  10. Uruguay
  11. Croatia
  12. USA
  13. Mexico
  14. Switzerland
  15. Germany
  16. Senegal
  17. Serbia
  18. Qatar
  19. Iran
  20. Canada
  21. Morocco
  22. Wales
  23. Saudi Arabia
  24. Japan
  25. South Korea
  26. Poland
  27. Ecuador
  28. Tunisia
  29. Costa Rica
  30. Australia
  31. Cameroon
  32. Ghana

The Return of the British (Baseball) Empire – Sort Of

British baseball, no, not the sport British Baseball, but the sport of baseball by the British National Team is once again, a world power.

Call up King Charles III and tell him the Empire is back!

In a way, this truly is not a hyperbole, but at the same time, this is misinforming at best.

Great Britain used to be one of the best baseballing nations in the world. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, baseball was one of Great Britain’s most popular sports.

Remnants of this are not wide known, but once in a while, you may notice this.

For example, Derby County FC used to be the brightest example of this history because their former stadium until 1997 was the Baseball Ground, as Derby Baseball Club was so popular that the local soccer team played there and then kept the name of the stadium the same.

Baseball Ground: from @FootballInT80s (Twitter)

There were other cities and football clubs that had teams as well, notably Aston Villa FC, Preston North End FC, and Stoke City FC, all soccer clubs. These three teams and Derby Baseball Club were the four teams that competed in the only season the league was professional. Aston Villa won and many Aston Villa historians are proud of this achievement: the only professional baseball league champions of England. However this was only due to Derby Baseball Club refusing to follow ex post facto rules the other clubs tried to place on them, leaving Derby to leave the league on top of the standings by a county mile midseason.

The English man who is credited with this growth was Sir Francis Ley, while American Albert Spalding of the sports company Spaulding was the entrepeneur behind the professional league itself. When the professional league only lasted one year, Sir Francis Ley continued promoting British baseball and wanted more football clubs to form baseball clubs, and while this worked for a while, baseball soon started to whither away in the British culture around 1900.

Despite this, the National Championship would continue to be played by big name football clubs until the 1910s. This allowed for clubs like Tottenham Hotspur FC, Leyton Orient FC, Nottingham Forrest FC, and Brentford FC to win national championships in baseball.

Derby Baseball Club was unique though in that it was a baseball club, while Derby County FC did create a baseball club after Derby Baseball Club was created. There were plenty more baseball only clubs during this time. Derby Baseball Club went onto win 3 national championships during the 1890s decade.

To this day, British baseball continues to be played at an amateur level, and now mainly only by baseball clubs. No big soccer teams sponsor a baseball club anymore.

Yet, despite British baseball slowly becoming a former popular trend by the 1920s, the British still had one more accomplishment left to earn.

During the 1930s, another wealthy English man came to America and grew to love the sport. Like Sir Francis Ley, he had a plan to make baseball popular in Great Britain. He decided that he would pay Merseyside baseballers who were playing their local bat and ball sport, British Baseball or Welsh Baseball that was very similar to baseball, to convert to playing baseball. His name was John Moores.

Welsh Baseball had been very popular in the area since the Middle Ages. So John Moores took advantage of this. He not only paid Merseysiders, but he also donated to schools in Cardiff and other places. He would go onto create a semi-professional league.

This last dashed growth of baseball in Great Britain led to its greatest achievement.

The 1938 Amateur World Series was created as an amateur world championship and a preparation for the Olympic Baseball Tournament set to be played in Tokyo in 1940. This Amateur World Series was the first edition and would later be morphed into the Baseball World Cup, a competition that did not feature MLB players, but was still at a high level.

In this first rendition of the Baseball World Cup, Great Britian hosted the USA in a series. Great Britian won this series 4 games to 1. As such, Great Britain are regarded as the first amateur world champions in baseball. After this, World War Two broke out and baseball would lose its momentum once again.

Great Britain National Team at the 1938 Amateur World Series/Baseball World Cup from the Liverpool Echo

The Baseball World Cup, however, would go on to be dominated by Cuba as their best players could play and most other big name nations did not have this luxury.

The final rendition happened in 2011 in Panama where the Netherlands won their first amateur world championship.

The Netherlands National Baseball Team Celebrates Winning the Baseball World Cup from

Since 2006 however, the true world championship has been the World Baseball Classic. The Olympics and other competitions have not been considered full world championships for a while now, as the World Baseball Classic is the first world championship where all the best players from every nation are able to play.

In this format, Japan has won twice (2006 and 2009), while both the Dominican Republic (2013) and the USA (2017) have won once.

For Great Britain, they had never qualified for the World Baseball Classic until last week when they beat Spain 10-9.

Great Britain National Baseball Team Celebrates defeating Spain 10-9 from Team GB Facebook.

And while this is a huge accomplishment, it is also marred in realistic criticisms.

The reason I write the empire is both back and not back is because this British team only features nine players born in the United Kingdom, while everyone else are dual nationals.

For baseball, Great Britain represents all of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, one of the few national teams that does. But, on their team, you will find lots of Canada (1), The Bahamas (5), and USA (13) born players. And, a lot of the British born players are from the British Virgin Islands (2), while one of the 13 US born players is born in the US Virgin Islands.

These players are often able to qualify for British nationality through their parents or grandparents, or another relative. Sometimes, it is via other ways like residency.

So, while Great Britain did qualify, they really only qualified using their former empire, which in some ways means the British Empire is back, but in other ways also means the British are not quite as strong in baseball as they once were.

This brings up probably the greatest controversy.

When it comes to dual nationals picking the nation they are not from, usually the convention holds that unless you moved there at a young age or in a formative part of your playing career, it is customary that you play for the country of your birth. The exceptions are when you are from a nation so good that you will not make it on their national team anyway.

So, for the American and Canadian born players, this is not a huge deal.

But, for The Bahamas born players, this presents a major obstacle for the growth of baseball. The Bahamas used to be a part of Great Britain so it seems right that some of the older generation who was born there when it was Great Britain would consider themselves British first, but for the younger generation playing, the hope is for these players to grow the game in The Bahamas. With five key players, and another key player in the MLB right now sure to join for the WBC in March 2023, many people are worried that baseball in The Bahamas will be negatively affected because these players instead should be helping The Bahamas qualify. It is true that The Bahamas are part of the Commonwealth Realm, but so too is the United Kingdom (Great Britain), as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others. All this means is that both The Bahamas and the United Kingdom are independent in personal union, or in other words, the same person, King Charles III, is both King of The Bahamas as its Head of State and the King of the United Kingdom as its Head of State. These nations are not part of the same country.

There is also a lesser controversy over players from dependencies playing for their larger national team. Should those from the British Virgin Islands be helping a British Virgin Islands National Team qualify, and like wise, should the US Virgin Islands born player be helping the US Virgin Islands qualify?

These questions are very legitimate too given how Puerto Rico, a dependency of the USA, is one of the best baseball national teams having made it to the WBC Final the past two editions (2013 and 2017). But, since dependencies are part of larger nations, such that the British Virgin Islands are part of the United Kingdom making Great Britain also their national team, and given that the US Virgin Islands are part of the USA making the USA also their national team, this brings a lot less controversy. And for international baseball at the WBC level, most nations have decided to create a unified team across all parts of their country, such that the Kingdom of the Netherlands National Baseball Team represents the whole kingdom: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Saba, Saint Eustatius, and Bonaire. These parts of the Netherlands in other sports often all play as separate national teams even though they do not have to, but not in baseball.

Nonetheless, players should be able to choose the national team they most identify with that they qualify for. For many of these players, that is Great Britain. It may be difficult to see Bahamian baseball legends in blue and red instead of light blue and yellow, but in the end, it is these players choice to choose via a complicated history of moving empires. As such, with a mixture of American, Canadian, Bahamian, and British born players, this Great Britain team looks to grow the sport in their home land or adopted home land, and hopes to battle for WBC supremacy in a tournament that features the best baseballing nations and players from around the world.

It may not be the glory days of British baseball’s past or the glory days of the British Empire, but in a way, it feels like it as Great Britain prepares for their opening pitch of their World Baseball Classic debut.

Great Britain 10 Spain 9; Great Britain wins advancing to the 2023 World Baseball Classic

Photo from the Team GB Facebook

NCAA FBS Top 25 Week 5

  1. Georgia 4-0 SEC: Georgia had a closer than expected game with one of the favorites to win the MAC, Kent State. The Golden Flashes have had a tough battle tested schedule so far, and were prepared for the #1 team in the nation following games at Oklahoma and at Washington. The Bulldogs won 39-22 at home
  2. Alabama 4-0 SEC: Alabama overpowered Vanderbuilt, 55-3 at home. The Crimson Tide appear to back on the usual steam rolling service they and everyone else are accustomed to.
  3. Ohio State 4-0 Big Ten: The Buckeyes got their second big victory in two weeks with a 52-21 home thrashing of Wisconsin. Ohio State thus seemed appropriate to move to #3 after such a dominant week.
  4. USC 4-0 Pac-12: USC had a huge 17-14 victory over Oregon State away in Corvallis to keep their undefeated season alive.
  5. Clemson 4-0 ACC: Clemson won away over a very good Wake Forrest team, 51-45 in Ovetime!
  6. Washington 4-0 Pac-12: The Huskies won 40-22 at home over the weekend against Stanford. Washington look like a CFP team, but they have a tough road test at undefeated UCLA this Friday.
  7. Michigan 4-0 Big Ten: Michigan had a close 34-27 victory over a good Maryland side. However, because thie was Michigan’s first test, and because Maryland has often been bad in Big Ten play, many are concerned the Wolverines are just way overrated.
  8. Oklahoma State 3-0 Big 12: The Cowboys had a bye this past week.
  9. Tennessee 4-0 SEC: Tennessee finally beat Florida again, this time 38-33 at home. Could this be the Vounteers’ year? Maybe, but Tennessee fans will be quick to not jinx this season or expect too much given previous heartaches.
  10. Kentucky 4-0 SEC: Kentucky had a close 31-23 win over Northern Illinois at home.
  11. Ole Miss 4-0 SEC: Ole Miss had a close 35-27 home victory over Tusla who has also impressed this season. The Golden Hurricanes tend to be very competitive.
  12. Penn State 4-0 Big Ten: Penn State got a nice 33-14 win over Central Michigan at home.
  13. Oregon 3-1 Pac-12: Oregon won away, 44-41 over a very good Washington State team. Oregon appears to have found their groove, and are a completely different team than Week 1.
  14. Texas A&M 3-1 SEC: Texas A&M is back on the CFP map after a major victory over Arkansas in Dallas, 23-21. The Aggies still do not look like where they should be, but if they can continue to improve as the season goes on, and win out, they will he a CFP team. This however is unlikely given that Alabama is on their schedule, as well as many other good teams.
  15. Oregon State 3-1 Pac-12: Oregon State had a narrow home loss to USC, 14-17. While the Beavers offense disappointed, their defense displayed elite level of play. Oregon State should legitimately still he a CFP contender, especially if they win out.
  16. Utah 3-1 Pac-12: Utah got a good 34-13 controlled victory over Arizona State, away.
  17. Minnesota 4-0 Big Ten: The Golden Gophers got a big 34-7 away win over Michigan State. Minnesota appear to be actually good, whereas before people were concerned their their record was more indicative of their relatively easier schedule.
  18. NC State 4-0 ACC: NC State got a nice win over UCONN, 41-10 at home.
  19. Florida State 4-0 ACC: The Seminoles had a good 44-14 home win over struggling Boston College to continue their undefeated season.
  20. TCU 3-0 Big 12: TCU best their in metropolitan area rival, SMU, 42-34 in very comfortable fashion.
  21. BYU 3-1 Independents: BYU defeated a good Mountain West team in Wyoming at home, 35-24.
  22. Baylor 3-1 Big 12: Baylor beat a very good previously undefeated Iowa State side, 31-24.
  23. UCLA 4-0 Pac-12: UCLA handled their business at Colorado, 45-17, setting up a big match up with undefeated Washington at home, on Friday night.
  24. Syracuse 4-0 ACC: Syracuse got past Virginia, 22-20, to stay undefeated. The Orange look good so far.
  25. Wake Forrest 3-1 ACC, Kansas 4-0 Big 12, and James Madison 4-0 Sun Belt: Wake Forrest barely lost to Clemson at home, 45-51 in Overtime, while Kansas beat Duke at home, 35-27, and James Madison beat Appalachian State away, 32-28. All of these teams are about even, hence why there is a three way tie for #25.
  • Cincinnati 3-1 AAC: Cincinnati are back with a 45-24 win over a previously undefeated Indiana, at home. The Bearcats may be on the way outside looking in for the CFP, but they still hypothetically could go if they continue to win. However, given how bad the AAC has been for how good they usually are, Cincinnati is unlikely to generate enough marquee wins to get in to the CFP with 1 loss.
  • Pittsburgh 3-1 ACC: Pittsburgh struggled to put FCS Rhode Island away until late, but maintained a comfortable lead throughout eventually winning 45-24.
  • Washington State 3-1 Pac-12: Washington State put up a good fight in a 41-44 loss at home to Oregon, displaying a Top 25 level of play.
  • Kansas State 3-1 Big 12: Kansas State got a big win over Oklahoma, 41-34 away, and appear to be a Top 25 level team again following their surprise loss to Tulane. If Kansas State runs the rest of the table, the Wildcats are likely to receive a CFP berth.
  • Oklahoma 3-1 Big 12: Oklahoma suffered a set back, a 34-41 loss at home to Kansas State. There is still a lot of time left in the season, but their next 2 games are very likely to be losses too, with TCU away and then Texas.
  • Texas Tech 3-1 Big 12: Texas Tech rebounded with a 37-34 Overtime win at home over Texas. The Red Raiders have had quite the tough schedule thie season so far, with games against Houston, Texas, and last week, against NC State.
  • LSU 3-1 SEC: LSU got a big win over New Mexico, 38-0. While their Week 1 loss might have signaled doom for the Tigers, these last few weeks show a resurgence LSU, ready to conquer the SEC West.
  • Arkansas 3-1 SEC: Arkansas lost a close one, 21-23, against Texas A&M in Dallas. Arkansas should have won too, but missed a field goal to go up.

Conference: Non-Conference Record;

  1. SEC: 37-5; Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Florida, South Carolina, Auburn, Missouri, Vanderbuilt
  2. Big 12: 26-5; Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Texas, West Virginia
  3. Pac-12: 24-9; USC, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington State, UC Berkeley, Arizona, Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado
  4. ACC: 31-11; Clemson, NC State, Florida State, Syracuse, Wake Forrest, Pittsburgh, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Miami (Florida), Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Georgia Tech
  5. Big Ten: 30-10; Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska
  6. Sun Belt: 23-19; James Madison, Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, Troy, Marshall, Appalachian State, Southern Mississippi, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas State, Georgia State
  7. AAC: 22-17; Cincinnati, Tulane, Memphis, UCF, Houston, SMU, Tulsa, Temple, East Carolina, South Florida, Navy
  8. C-USA: 20-24; Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, UAB, Rice, UTSA, UTEP, FAU, North Texas, Louisiana Tech, Charlotte, FIU
  9. Mountain West: 22-24; Fresno State, UNLV, Wyoming, San Jose State, Air Force, San Diego State, Boise State, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah State, Hawaii, Colorado State
  10. MAC: 14-29; Miami (Ohio), Kent State, Central Michigan, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Ball State, Akron,

Independents: 12-17; BYU, Notre Dame, Liberty, Army, New Mexico State, UCONN, UMASS

Photo from Amanda Loman / Associated Press.

The Czech Baseball Story Adds a New Chapter

We begin in Brno, the southeastern city of the Czech Republic close to the Austrian and Slovakian borders.

While the city is known by many as the second city of the Czech Republic, it is known within the baseball community as the Czech baseball capital.

From GetByBus: Brno

Both in the professional ranks and the youth levels, Brno has consistently had the best teams over the century long history of baseball in Czechia.

And on 20 August 2013, this would come to life on the ESPN networks as we saw Brno’s South Moravia LLWS team make history. Brno would battle out Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Michigan) 5-3 in the Czech Republic’s only LLWS victory in its history.

People may have not realized the high level of play coming out of the Czech Republic before, but after that day, people now knew that the bats were swinging in Brno.

From ShutterStock; Brno at the LLWS

And perhaps, this game was foreshadowing for the Czechs greatest baseball accomplishment to date just 9 years later, when the Czechs defeated Spain 3-1 this past Wednesday night to Qualify for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) for the first time it its history!

But, how did we get here? How did a country so focused on ice hockey, basketball, soccer, and other sports become a baseball haven for Central Europe?

Baseball was first introduced in 1919, but fell out of Czech society almost completely during World War Two. After World War Two, American troops in the Western half started to re-introduce the sport. However, the Czech and Slovaks quickly became one communist state, Czechoslovakia. And, within three years of the end of World War Two, the new government had banned baseball.

Baseball did not return again until 1964 when a softball club began playing baseball in Prague. This began baseball’s ascent into Czech life.

In 1969, the Czechoslovakia Baseball and Softball Association was created, and teams had already started to play outside of the nation.

By 1979, the first Czechoslovakian Championship was held!

You can read more about this history here.

Since this moment, Brno has made their name known in Central European baseball.

Brno has had four major Czech teams: Draci Brno, Hroši Brno, VSK Technika Brno, and MZLU Express Brno. These teams have all featured in the top Czech League, the Czech Baseball Extraliga.

This league currently consists of ten teams with Cardion Hroši Brno and Draci Brno being the Brno representatives. Both of these teams met in the 2022 Extraliga Final this year with Draci Brno winning the series 4 games to 2.

Despite Technika Brno not featuring in the Extraliga currently, it is Technika Brno and Draci Brno that have been most successful over the years from Brno. Technika Brno has won 5 Czech/Czechoslvoakian titles, while Draci Brno is the best Czech team of all-time, winning a record 23 Czech titles, and as mentioned before, are the current Czech National Champions.

Photo © by Ladislav Svěnčík, @ladislavsvencik: Draci Brno after winning the 2020 Czech Extraliga.

This dominance by Draci Brno did not start until 1995, and by 2010, Draci Brno had won 16 straight Czech championships!

At the youth levels, Brno has also dominated for a while now. In European-Middle Eastern-African LLWS qualifiers, Brno has often represented the Czechs, and in 2013 and 2014, the aforementioned Brno’s South Moravia qualified for Williamsport!

The City of Brno has thus become a household name for baseball fans from the Americas and Asia too, opening up these fans to the realization that good baseball exists in the heart of Central Europe.

From Extraliga: Draci Brno’s Municipal Baseball Stadium

But, what many people may not know is that Czech Baseball has expanded its reach domestically. Other regions of the Czech Republic are now dominating. Recently, we have seen teams from Prague, the largest city and capital, dominate, while the Czech Republic’s third biggest city, Ostrava, had their main professional team the Arrows win the 2021 Extraliga, as well as the 2018 and 2019 editions. And in the youth setup, Prague broke the streak since 2008 of Brno appearing in the LLWS qualifiers in 2018, displaying Prague baseball at a high level. Brno would return after, and in 2022, went 3-0 in the final European qualifiers until the last game where they lost to Bologna 1-4 in the Final, who they had beaten previously.

The Czech Baseball influence thus covers from the youth to the highest levels in the three historic regional capital cities of the Czech Republic: Prague (Bohemia), Brno (Czech Moravia), and Ostrava (Czech Silesia). In addition to this, there are more baseball cities that feature in the Czech Republic, probably the most notable being Jablonec nad Nisou who has a team in the Extraliga. This city sits in the metropolitan area of Liberic, the fifth largest city and the former industrial home of Czechia.

From Reddit

As displayed here, the Czechs have created a very good baseball environment with the main cities and all the regions represented by a team. Plus, they have invested in youth level training to build up their domestic talent pool. These workings have catapulted the Czechs into a perennial Top 5 European nation in baseball, a ranking they have finished within in every European Baseball Championship since 2012.

And hence, this Czech victory is a really good victory for baseball in Europe.

It is great to see Spain and others do well and make it to the WBC like in 2013. It is even fun to see Great Britain qualify this year.

But, the Czech Republic is a nation that features players coming from the Czech youths to the WBC. It is a nation doing everything right from the grassroots and up to its highest levels and has been rewarded for it.

Outside of one player, all the players on the field that qualified are Czech and from the Czech Republic, with most of them still playing in the Extraliga and all of them having played there. The only player not from the Czech Republic is American born pitcher, Jake Rabinowitz, who pitches in the Extraliga and qualifies for the American, Czech, and Israeli national teams. And out of these 29, 12 play for Brno sides, which means a majority of the players represent the clubs from the rest of the nation.

When you look at baseball infrastructure and talent pool, in the Czech Reoublic, they have it and it is home grown.

These facts make the Czech achievement even more impressive. They did not have to bring over dual nationals to get a win.

Rather, the only player not from the Czech Republic on their side was already playing in the Czech Republic to begin with and is Czech.

The biggest hurdle for baseball according to most experts overseas is the development of players. Many of these nations are able to recruit their diasporas, but outside of the baseball blue bloods, most of the other nations that can compete at a high level get their players from abroad. With the Czech Republic qualifying for the World Baseball Classic, a new high level national team has added itself into the mix of the high performaning home grown national teams.

What is even more significant for the growth of the sport as a whole is that the Czech Republic became the first Central and East European country to qualify, as well as the first Slavic nation to qualify.

Despite many Americans’ lineage originating from these regions like 2018 NL MVP and 2017 WBC Champion, Christian Yelich, these regions have been in a WBC drought since this new professional world championship of baseball was created in 2006.

Now that the Czech Republic has qualified, more will see the benefits of having their nation playing in one of the world’s most popular sports, in some of the nicest, largest, and unique stadiums of any sport.

With new nations appearing in the European Championships from these regions like Croatia, Slovenia, and Slovakia, there now once again appears to be a new region on the rise for baseball.

The Czech momentum will thus not only help the Czechs out in America’s past time, but will also likely improve the play of baseball in places like Croatia that are already vastly improving. All of these realities make the Czech qualification a good story for international baseball, and a well deserved accomplishment.

Congrats to the Czech Republic on qualifying for the 2023 WBC!

Photo from Sebastian Widmann/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Czech Republic verse Spain full replay

Environmentalism, Monarchy, and Capitalism

Some may say that each of these terms juxtaposes the other, but King Charles III hopes to change this.

In a meeting held with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, James Marape, King Charles III and PM James Marape discussed a new hope for the world economy that would reward the environmental benefits of countries like Papua New Guinea, and the industrial and innovative countries like the United Kingdom.

Luckily for King Charles III, he is the king of both of these nations and wields considerable influence in both the industrial and environmental worlds.

What the plan centers around is the ability of countries that do provide conservation and reduced deforestation with money for their services in lign with our capitalist world.

The goal is to reward nations for being environmental, like a tax credit for an electric car does.

But instead of a tax credit, it would be in the form of an actual payment for a service.

And what would this service be?

A lot of people know that in the fight against carbon in the atmosphere, trees and other plants are a great way to stop the excessive amounts reaching up there that contribute to an ever warming climate. Even if you do not believe in this scientific belief, you can agree that the conservation of forests is good for our planet.

Either way, there is a real service these natural habitats are providing all of us.

For many, like King Charles III, this is providing us with the ability to continue to industrialize and grow the world economy, while fighting pollution and human-caused climate change. The more trees we grow, the easier it is for us to breathe, and the better our planet operates. And, by offsetting for the conservation of these forested areas like in Papua New Guinea, we are able to grow industry without seeing as harmful effects, as people desperately need money as well.

But, for this to happen, there needs to be monetary incentives for countries like Papua New Guinea to continue to conserve amidst many lucrative proposals from industries to mining and to do other activities that disrupt this fragile ecosystem.

Maybe this will come from other countries, or maybe this will come from private corporations. As King Charles III mentioned before, private industries would be much better at dealing with these issues.

Photo from Papua New Guinea Today

NCAA FBS Rankings Week 4:

  1. Georgia 3-0 (SEC): The Bulldogs beat South Carolina 48-7 and are clearly playing like the best team in the nation.
  2. Alabama 3-0 (SEC): Alabama dominated UL Monroe 63-7 last week. The Crimson Tide continue to dominate against non Power 5 conference schools, in a way no other team does.
  3. USC 3-0 (Pac-12): USC closed out Fresno State 45-17. The Trojans have dominated every game they are in thus far, and given how good Rice has been the last two weeks, it appears that USC are much better than we thought.
  4. Ohio State 3-0 (Big Ten): The Buckeyes finally came out fully against a good team. Ohio State won 77-21 against Toledo.
  5. Clemson 3-0 (ACC): Clemson won 48-20 against Louisana Tech and improved their previous bad play they had suffered against Furman a week before.
  6. Oklahoma 3-0 (Big 12): Oklahoma won against Nebraska 49-14.
  7. Michigan 3-0 (Big Ten): Michigan beat Colorado State 51-7, Hawaii 56-10, and now UCONN 59-0.
  8. Oklahoma State 3-0 (Big 12): Oklahoma State won 63-7 against Arkasas Pine Bluff. The Cowboys have a real test next week with Baylor.
  9. Washington 3-0 (Pac-12): Washington defeated Michigan State 39-28. The Huskies are really good so far this season, and will have another chance for a good win against Stanford next week.
  10. Kentucky 3-0 (SEC): Kentucky continues to impress with a 31-0 win over FCS Youngstown State.
  11. Oregon State 3-0 (Pac-12): Oregon State beat one of FCS best teams last season, Montana State, 68-28. The Beavers also have beaten Boise State and Fresno State.
  12. Tennessee 3-0 (SEC): Tennessee defeated Akron 63-6. But, their undefeated season looks to be in jeopardy when they play at home to Florida this week.
  13. Ole Miss 3-0 (SEC): Ole Miss has continued to improve with each game. They went from struggling against Troy with an eventual comfortable win, 28-10, to defeating Georgia Tech this past week, 42-0.
  14. Arkansas 3-0 (SEC): Arkansas has won a lot of closer games this season, and they have been good wins. However, the Razorbacks struggled last week against the FCS Missouri State Bears, in a 38-27 win.
  15. Oregon 2-1 (Pac-12): Oregon defeated a really good BYU team, 41-20. The Ducks might have lost to Georgia very badly, but have sense improved greatly.
  16. Penn State 3-0 (Big Ten): Penn State had a close win over Purdue, 35-31, and then the Nittany Lions defeated the Ohio Bobcats 46-10 and then just defeated the Auburn Tigers 41-12.
  17. Syracuse 3-0 (ACC): Syracuse has now knocked off an ACC foe, 31-7 against Louisville, and a Big Ten team, Purdue, 32-29.
  18. NC State 3-0 (ACC): NC State won 27-14 at home against Texas Tech. NC State was up 27-7 too, and Texas Tech had been undefeated.
  19. Florida State 3-0 (ACC): FSU defeated Louisville 35-31 this past week and improved upon their undefeated season.
  20. Texas 2-1 (Big 12): Texas (Austin) won a very good game against in-state foe, UTSA, 41-20. This was an impressive win after coming off of a close loss to Alabama.
  21. Florida 2-1 (SEC): Florida has played in close games in each of these games. They defeated South Florida 31-28 last week. This week will be a difficult away game against Tennessee.
  22. Utah 2-1 (Pac-12): Utah won 35-7 against San Diego State.
  23. Wake Forrest 3-0 (ACC): Wake Forrest defeated undefeated Liberty last week, 37-36.
  24. Washington State 3-0 (Pac-12): Washington State won 38-7 against Colorado State.
  25. Minnesota 3-0 (Big Ten): Minnesota won 49-7 against Colorado. The Golden Gophers have dominated each of their games, but they have had an easier schedule.
  • TCU 2-0 (Big 12): TCU was on a bye last week.
  • Pittsburgh 2-1 (ACC): The Panthers defeated Western Michigan 34-13. Pittsburgh’s loss was to a very good Tennessee team 27-34.
  • Iowa State 3-0 (Big 12): ISU beat Ohio 43-10 and is now 3-0.
  • Cincinnati 2-1 (AAC): Cincinnati won 38-17 in a rivalry game against Miami (Ohio).
  • Arizona 2-1 (Pac-12): Arizona won 31-28 over North Dakota State, which was the Bison’s first FBS loss in their last six tries.
  • Kansas 3-0 (Big 12): The Jayhawks won 48-30 against Houston who is a really good team. This Kansas win was their third in a row.
  • Indiana 3-0 (Big Ten): The Hoosiers beat WKU 33-30 (OT) to go to 3-0.
  • Texas A&M 2-1 (SEC): Texas A&M won 17-9 against a very good Miami side.
  • BYU 2-1 (Independent): BYU lost to Oregon last week 20-41.
  • Baylor 2-1 (Big 12): Baylor had a loss in overtime to BYU, but rebounded with a 42-7 win over Texas State.

Conference: Out of Conference record;

  1. SEC: 31-5; Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee Ole Miss, Arkansas, Florida, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Auburn, Missouri, Vanderbuilt
  2. Big 12: 23-5; Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Iowa State, Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas State, West Virginia
  3. Pac-12: 24-9; USC, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Utah, Washington State, Arizona, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado
  4. ACC: 28-6; Clemson, Syracuse, NC State, Florida State, Wake Forrest, Pittsburgh, Miami, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Boston College
  5. Big Ten: 27-8; Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska, Rutgers
  6. Mountain West: 16-16; Fresno State, Boise State, Wyoming, Air Force, UNLV, San Jose State, San Diego State, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah State, Colorado State, Hawaii
  7. AAC: 17-13; Cincinnati, Tulane, East Carolina, SMU, UCF, South Florida, Tulsa, Memphis, Temple, Navy
  8. Sun Belt: 20-19; James Madison, Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, Appalachian State, Marshall, Old Dominion, Troy, Louisiana-Lafayette, Georgia Southern, Southern Mississippi, Texas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Monroe
  9. C-USA: 17-19; UTSA, Western Kentucky, UAB, Rice, FAU, Middle Tennessee State, Lousiana Tech, North Texas, UTEP, FIU, Charlotte
  10. MAC: 12-22; Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Kent State, Ohio, Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio), Ball State, Akron, Buffalo

Independents: 8-15; BYU, Notre Dame, Liberty, Army, UCONN, UMASS, NMSU

Photo from Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times

NCAA FBS Top 25 for Week 3:

  1. Georgia 2-0 SEC: Georgia did not impress as much against Samford, but relative to other teams at the top, Georgia deserves to be #1 after a 49-3 win over Oregon and a 33-0 win over Samford.
  2. Alabama 2-0 SEC: Alabama might have barely beaten Texas, but when the Longhorns are playing well and are at home, it is one of the toughest places to play in the nation. So, the Crimson Tide still did well to win 20-19 on a heavy upset Saturday. But, their 55-0 win over Utah State no longer looks as good following Weber State’s 35-7 win over Utah State this past weekend.
  3. USC 2-0 Pac-12: USC dominated Stanford and found themselves up 41-14. Stanford looks improved this season too. So, it was a legit Power 5 matchup. The Trojans took their foot off the gas pedal late which is concerning, but they still won comfortably 41-28. They have the most impressive win from all Top 10 teams last week besides BYU for now.
  4. Ohio State 2-0 Big Ten: Ohio State struggled early against Arkansas State to separate, only going up 24-9 deep in the first half. But their second half was much better and saw the Buckeyes close out the win 45-12. Still, their Notre Dame win no longer looks as impressive following Notre Dame’s home loss to Marshall. So, they no longer have the marquee win and that game was quite close.
  5. Clemson 2-0 ACC: Clemson struggled to dominate against FCS Furman and only went up 28-9 late in the first half. They would win the game 35-12, but it was far from a good game for the Tigers. They appear to be a team the experts really want to be better than they really are, but they themselves so far have failed to impress.
  6. Oklahoma 2-0 Big 12: Oklahoma led Kent State 7-3 at half time, and then put up a big third quarter scoring 24 points to lead 31-3. A fourth quarter safety secured the Sooners win over the Golden Flashes. While Kent State is supposed to be a good MAC team this season, it is tough to rank a team like the Sooners so high when the lower ranked Huskies at Washington did much better in all but the final score against Kent State last week.
  7. Michigan 2-0 Big Ten: Michigan dominated Hawaii, but so has everyone else. The Rainbow Warriors look absolutely horrific so far and the Wolverines did exactly what they had to do, winning 56-10 at home. But, despite the win, Michigan is still yet to have a win against a team that puts them over the teams they are behind.
  8. Oklahoma State 2-0 Big 12: Oklahoma State struggled to keep a distance from Arizona State until the fourth quarter. After the Sun Devils got the game to 20-17, down by 3, the Cowboys responded with a touchdown the next minute, and then another touchdown six minutes later with 7:41 left. This was a huge win as Arizona State’s potential is very high this year. Oklahoma State proved they can win by scoring a lot two weeks ago, but this past week, proved they can win grinding it out in a slower and more methodical game, with a 34-17 home win.
  9. Arkansas 2-0 SEC: The Razorbacks look good to start the season with a 31-24 home win over Cincinnati and a 44-30 home win over South Carolina. Arkansas did a good job after the first quarter to keep the game a two score game, but the Gamecocks did bring it down to 16-21 in the third quarter. The Razorbacks responded by dominating the fourth quarter. These wins are both over good teams.
  10. BYU 2-0 Independent: BYU is once again a Top 10 team after defeating Baylor in Overtime, 26-20 at home. The Cougars had the best win of Week 2 out of all Top 25 teams, but their issue is not about starting hot, it is about finishing hot once the Utah weather cools down.
  11. Kentucky 2-0 SEC: Kentucky looks like the next man up in the SEC East after a great second half away to the Florida Gators. The Wildcats found themselves down 13-16 in The Swamp at half time, and then decided to score 13 unanswered points in the second half to close out the game and win 26-16. It was good to see Kentucky score so much away against a good defensive Florida team. And their defense also held the Gators to 16 points, something the Utes could not do two weeks ago. Kentucky also dominated the MAC favorites two weeks ago 37-13 when they beat the RedHawks of Miami (Ohio). So, it is a good start for a “basketball school”.
  12. Mississippi State 2-0 SEC: I may have been the only person to rank Arizona a Top 25 team after their commanding 38-20 win last week away against San Diego State. And, I might have been the only one to rank Mississippi State so highly after their 49-23 home win over the Memphis Tigers. But, nonetheless, the late game in Tuscon on Saturday proved these rankings to be somewhat accurate, at least so far. The Bulldogs led the whole game after the 5:27 mark in the first quarter. But, the Wildcats hung in and proved that second year Head Coach Jedd Fish is doing a fantastic job at turning around Rob Grownkowski’s U of A. The game went into the fourth quarter with Arizona driving down 17-25 late in the third quarter. And then, Mississippi State got a deflected interception and ran in back deep into Arizona territory. The Bulldogs would convert this turnover into a touch down in the fourth quarter going up 32-17. The Wildcats kept trying to bring the game back into balance, but the Bulldogs kept ahead of the score. Eventually, the Bulldogs scored late with 3:18 left to go up 39-17, and would win the game by this score. It was a very good Power 5 away win for Mississippi State. This was arguably the second most impressive win for a Top 25 team last week, but there is one more that will come later that rivals this one for second best win last week.
  13. Michigan State 2-0 Big Ten: The Spartans dominated the Zips 52-0 at home. While Akron may not be the BEST MAC team, a 52-0 is always a good win. So far, the Spartans look solid but we need to see more to see if they can truly contend for a CFP title this season.
  14. Oregon State 2-0 Pac-12: The Beavers avoided the trap set by the Bulldogs of Fresno State. Fresno State are the favorites to win the Mountain West and look really good again. Going into Fresno is usually a very difficult game, and it proved to be for Oregon State. Despite this, the Beavers received some late game luck and then scored the game winning touchdown on a 3 yard run as clock struck 0:00. It was one for the record books and one that not only will be relived in Oregon State folklore, but also one that signals a resurgence of the Pac-12 in out of conference play. This is in keeping in mind that Oregon State just beat Boise State at home last week.
  15. Miami (Florida) 2-0 ACC: Miami had a convincing 30-7 win over Southern Mississippi and looks to be a solid team this season. This is after the Hurricanes defeated Bethune-Cookman 70-13 at home in Week 1. Things are thus looking good for The U, but still nothing too impressive yet.
  16. Baylor 1-1 Big 12: Baylor lost an overtime game away against a legit Top 10 team. The Bears are still within CFP contention despite the loss.
  17. UCLA 2-0 Pac-12: UCLA had a resounding 45-7 win over Alabama State. This was UCLA’s first time ever playing an FCS school, breaking a tradition only Notre Dame and USC also follow (for now). So far, UCLA looks really good, but has also had an easier schedule than usual. They beat Bowling Green 45-17 last week. Their next game at home to South Alabama will be the Bruins toughest so far, and the Jaguars from Mobile look good this year too.
  18. Florida 1-1 SEC: Florida lost to a very good team last week. Despite this loss, they too are still in CFP contention. They just need to work on their offense.
  19. Washington 2-0 Pac-12: The Huskies beat a usually very competitive Portland State, 52-6. This is after a 45-20 win over Kent State last week. These two results place the Huskies into the Top 25.
  20. Air Force 2-0 Mountain West: Air Force dominated Colorado with 435 yards rushing and only 8 yards passing. Air Force looks really good right now especially after their 48-17 win over Northern Iowa. The Falcons will need to practice more passing though so that Air Force can win out and contend for a CFP spot.
  21. TCU 2-0 Big 12: TCU beat new FCS team, Tarleton State, 59-17. TCU has looked good both games this season.
  22. Minnesota 2-0 Big Ten: Minnesota has dominated both games so far. They beat New Mexico State 38-0 last week and this week, Minnesota won 62-10 against Western Illinois. The Golden Gophers however have quite an easy out of conference schedule and their next game is against their best team yet, Colorado. So, Minnesota’s time in the Top 25 may not last for long. But so far, Minnesota deserves it.
  23. Kansas State 2-0 Big 12: Kansas State looks amazing so far. They defeated Missouri 40-12 this past week and two weeks ago, they defeated a really good FCS team South Dakota 34-0!   These wins were over quality opposition.
  24. Syracuse 2-0 ACC: Syracuse dominated both Louisville 31-7 and UCONN 48-14. The Louisville win was especially impressive after Louisville defeated UCF this week.
  25. Tennessee 2-0 SEC: Tennessee had a big win this week 34-27 over a good Pittsburgh team away. The Volunteers beat Ball State the week before 59-10. They look good thus far, but we have seen this Tennessee show before.
  • NC State 2-0 ACC: NC State beat East Carolina 21-20 two weeks ago and did not look good, until this past week, when we found out East Carolina is really good again, defeating Old Dominion 39-21, who had just beat Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack beat Charleston Southern 55-3 last week and now look like a Top 25 team again after last week.
  • Wake Forest 2-0 ACC: Wake Forest beat Vanderbuilt very handily 45-25, but the score was much more lopsided than that. Similar to USC’s win over Stanford, Wake Forest went up big earlier, 35-10, and then 45-18, but would end up only winning by 20. Their win over VMI 44-10 now looks much more impressive too because Wake Forest looks good again.
  • Marshall 2-0 Sun Belt: Marshall will be a Top 25 team soon if they can keep their momentum going. Marshall beat Norfolk State 55-3 two weeks ago and then beat Notre Dame away 26-21 last week. Notre Dame is either really good and so is Marshall and Ohio State, or all three of these teams are not as good as we think.
  • Washington State 2-0 Pac-12: Washington State won a huge game away over Wisconsin 17-14 with a big 10-0 third quarter. Washington State struggled two weeks ago in the Battle of the Palouse against Idaho, winning 24-17. At first, it looked like the Cougars were going to be bad, but there was a little leeway thinking the Vandals were just close because it was a rivalry. However, Idaho did very well this week away to Indiana, so FCS Idaho is playing like a bowl eligible FBS Idaho and Washington State has two good wins. It is a shame the Vandals did not stay in FBS to continue this run of play in the top division.
  • Ole Miss 2-0 SEC: Ole Miss has a lot of hype, but their schedule has not been tough enough, nor was their Week 1 Troy result impressive enough to warrant a Top 25 spot for these rankings. Ole Miss defeated Troy 28-10 and Central Arkansas 59-3.
  • Texas Tech 2-0 Big 12: Texas Tech dominated Murray State two weeks ago 63-10, and this week, won an impressive home win over a previous Top 25 team, Houston, 33-30 in Overtime. The Red Raidors could be really good this year but it will be difficult to play against the top half of the Big 12.
  • Texas 1-1 Big 12: Texas played very well against Alabama only losing 19-20. But they still lost and their only win so far is a 52-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Texas has the talent to be this good every season and puts up at least one of these games every season. So, they must continue to show this to warrant a Top 25 spot. A win is better than a close loss still.
  • Utah 1-1 Pac-12: Utah beat Southern Utah 73-7! This is coming off of a close away loss to Florida. It is a shame FBS does not have automatic qualifiers for each conference champion for a NCAA Tournament/Playoffs, because by the end of the season, the Utes may be a 10-2 team that legit could be the best team in the nation. They just do not have the extra loss to lose now most likely.
  • Cincinnati 1-1 AAC: Cincinnati got back on the winning streak winning 63-10 against Kennesaw State. Their close loss to Arkansas 24-31 away may have not been so bad because possibly, the Razorbacks are really good. But they do not look as good as Utah.
  • Oregon 1-1 Pac-12: Oregon is capable of being really good, really bad, and mediocre. Against Georgia two weeks ago, the Ducks were really bad losing 3-49. And then, this past week, Oregon beat Eastern Washington 70-14 and looked really good. The Ducks potential is high, but they look like they may lack marquee wins out of conference, thus bringing down their conference and thus their chances of making the CFP are lower even with 1 loss than other teams in the Pac-12.

Conference: Out of Conference Record;

SEC: 22-4; Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Auburn, LSU, Missouri, Vanderbuilt

Big 12: 16-3; Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Texas, Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia

Pac-12: 16-6; USC, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, ASU, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Colorado

Big Ten: 18-4; Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, Rutgers

ACC: 19-4; Clemson, Miami (Florida), Syracuse, NC State, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Boston College

Sun Belt: 18-10; Marshall, James Madison, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, Old Dominion, Georgia State, Arkansas State, Troy, Southern Miss, Louisiana Monroe

Mountain West: 12-12; Air Force, Fresno State, San Jose State, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming, Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah State, Colorado State, Hawaii

AAC: 11-9: Cincinnati, SMU, ECU, Houston, UCF, Tulsa, Memphis, Tulane, South Florida, Temple, Navy

C-USA: 13-13; Western Kentucky, UTSA, UAB, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, FAU, Rice, Louisiana Tech, UTEP, FIU, Charlotte

MAC: 7-15; Toledo, Miami (Ohio), Kent State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Ball State

Independents: 5-11; BYU, Notre Dame, Army, Liberty, UCONN, New Mexico State, UMASS

Photo from Cary Edmundson USA Today Sports

The World Mourns the Death of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was the second longest reigning monarch (70 years) after King Louis XVI of France (72 years), and as such, Queen Elizabeth II oversaw an era of deep technological and societal shifts.

Queen Elizabeth II

For one, she is often regarded as the first British Monarch to openly grant self-determination to her colonies.

Under her rule, many parts of the British Empire either became independent, mostly as republics, or independent under her rule.

Those that became republics or part of other republics as well as part of other monarchies while under her rule include:

  1. Pakistan (included Bangladesh and small parts of India originally; 1956)
  2. Gold Coast/Ghana (1960)
  3. Cyprus (includes/included Northern Cyprus too; 1960)
  4. South Africa (1961)
  5. Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania; 1962; became Tanzania later)
  6. Nigeria (1963)
  7. Uganda (1963)
  8. Malaysia (included Singapore; 1963)
  9. Kenya (1964)
  10. Nyasaland/Malawi (1966)
  11. Basutoland/Lesotho (1966)
  12. Guyana (1970)
  13. The Gambia (1970)
  14. Sierra Leone (1971)
  15. Ceylon/Sri Lanka (1972)
  16. Malta (1974)
  17. Seychelles (1976)
  18. Trinidad and Tobago (1976)
  19. Dominica (1978)
  20. Gilbert Islands, and the Canton and Enderbury Islands/Kiribati (Canton and Enderbury Islands were a condominium between the USA and the UK; 1979)
  21. Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (1970 and 1980)
  22. New Hebrides/Vanuatu (previously a condominium between France and the UK; 1980)
  23. Fiji (1987)
  24. Mauritius (1992)
  25. Hong Kong (became part of the People’s Republic of China; 1997)
  26. Barbados (2021)

In addition to these, there were others as well, such as those who were protectorates/mandates of the British Empire that achieved independence under Queen Elizabeth II. These include:

  1. Jammu and Kashmir (1952; became part of India, and now disputed between India, Pakistan, and the People’s Republic of China)
  2. Suez Canal (became part of Egypt; 1956)
  3. Sudan (condominium between Egypt and the UK and included South Sudan; 1956)
  4. Somaliland (1960; became part of Somalia and then claimed independence again later)
  5. South West Africa/Namibia (became a protectorate of independent South Africa and became independent later; 1961)
  6. British Cameroon (1961; Northern part became part of Nigeria and Southern part became part of Cameroon and now some there claim independence as Ambazonia)
  7. Western Samoa/Samoa (1961)
  8. Kuwait (1961)
  9. Zanzibar (1963; became part of Tanzania later)
  10. Northern Rhodesia/Zambia (1964)
  11. Maldives (1965)
  12. Bechuanaland/Botswana (1966)
  13. South Arabia/South Yemen (1967; became part of Yemen later, and now some claim independence as South Yemen)
  14. Swaziland/Eswatini (1968)
  15. Nauru (was a condominium between New Zealand, Australia, and the UK; 1968)
  16. Tonga (1970)
  17. Muscat and Oman/Oman (1970)
  18. Bahrain (1970)
  19. Qatar (1971)
  20. Trucial States/United Arab Emirates (1971)
  21. Trucial States/Ras Al-Khaimah (1971; became part of the United Arab Emirates in 1972)
  22. Brunei Darussalam (1984)

In addition to all of these sovereignty changes, under Queen Elizabeth II’s rule, many countries gained their full and formal independence from the UK, but kept her as their Queen of their respective countries. These include:

  1. Jamaica (1962)
  2. The Bahamas (1973)
  3. Grenada (1974)
  4. Papua New Guinea (1975)
  5. Solomon Islands (1978)
  6. Tuvalu (1978)
  7. Saint Lucia (1979)
  8. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1979)
  9. Belize (1981)
  10. Antigua and Barbuda (1981)
  11. Canada (1982)
  12. Saint Christopher and Nevis (1983)
  13. Australia (1986)
  14. New Zealand (1986)
The signing of the Canada Act (1982)

There are more states that did this originally including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Pakistan, but these states were included in the previous sections because they later got rid of the Queen as their head of state altogether. It is also important to note that some of these countries achieved independence via other realms such that Samoa achieved independence through New Zealand and Papua New Guinea achieved independence through Australia, and then Nauru achieved independence through Australia, New Zealand, and the UK via a condominium, but in reality, the UK controlled the sovereignty over all of these realms at the time so technically, the UK was still in charge.

Through these many changes, the world began to know Queen Elizabeth II as a monarch against total control and one completely seeking commonwealths, or in other words, one who seeks to govern for the people and by the people, not merely as an autocrat.

Therefore, many of these countries and the countries she had continued to rule had become proper democracies, some under a constitutional monarch, and others under a republic.

Henceforth, the Commonwealth of Nations and various institutions like the Commonwealth Games would become marquee institutions under Queen Elizabeth II’s tutelage. She would become the ceremonial leader of both. These institutions had begun in 1926/1931/1949 and 1930 respectively, but they would really come to full fruition and become a defining characteristic of these former British lands under Queen Elizabeth II.

Today, the Commonwealth of Nations include:

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Australia
  3. The Bahamas
  4. Bangladesh
  5. Barbados
  6. Belize
  7. Botswana
  8. Brunei Darussalam
  9. Cameroon
  10. Canada
  11. Cyprus
  12. Dominica
  13. Eswatini
  14. Fiji
  15. Gabon
  16. The Gambia
  17. Ghana
  18. Grenada
  19. Guyana
  20. India
  21. Jamaica
  22. Kenya
  23. Kiribati
  24. Lesotho
  25. Malawi
  26. Malaysia
  27. Maldives
  28. Malta
  29. Mauritius
  30. Mozambique
  31. Namibia
  32. Nauru
  33. New Zealand
  34. Nigeria
  35. Pakistan
  36. Papua New Guinea
  37. Rwanda
  38. Saint Christopher and Nevis
  39. Saint Lucia
  40. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  41. Samoa
  42. Seychelles
  43. Sierra Leone
  44. Singapore
  45. Solomon Islands
  46. South Africa
  47. Sri Lanka
  48. Tanzania
  49. Togo
  50. Tonga
  51. Trinidad and Tobago
  52. Tuvalu
  53. Uganda
  54. United Kingdom
  55. Vanuatu
  56. Zambia
Blue are current members and orange are former members.
Flag of the Commonwealth of Nations

And the Commonwealth Games includes these nations and some dependencies too:

  1. Bermuda (UK)
  2. British Virgin Islands (UK)
  3. Cayman Islands (UK)
  4. Cook Islands (New Zealand)
  5. Falkland Islands (UK)
  6. Gibraltar (UK)
  7. Guernsey (UK responsibility)
  8. Isle of Man (UK responsibility)
  9. Jersey (UK responsibility)
  10. Montserrat (UK)
  11. Niue (New Zealand)
  12. Norfolk Islands (Australia)
  13. Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK)
  14. Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)

Notes: Gabon and Togo have yet to compete. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland compete separately instead of the United Kingdom.

Commonwealth Sports Logo

It is via these many institutions that Queen Elizabeth II cemented her influence around the globe even where her kingdoms no longer ruled. 

But, it was her ability to continue with the times as technology changed and society itself changed.

Queen Elizabeth II would embrace computers, cell phones, television, and more. 

Her coronation in 1953 was the first British coronation to appear on television

She possessed a special cell phone with the latest and greatest MI6 approved anti-hacking systems

And when it came to computers and social media, Queen Elizabeth II embraced all sorts of new trends from becoming one of the first people to send an email in 1976, to using Twitter and Instagram, and even filming 3D messages.

These technological shifts by Queen Elizabeth II helped the United Kingdom and her other realms to embrace technology too. 

For example, Niue, a free association state of New Zealand, was the first nation to have full free WIFI in 2012.

Flag of Niue

But she also upheld many traditions. 

For example, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was said in a Liturgy dating back to King Edgar at Bath in 973.

As the world became more secular, and even as the various religious institutions embraced more progressive ideologies, her Anglican Church most notably, she also kept true to her religion and embraced both the Episcopal Church of England as its head (Supreme Governor) and the Calvinist and Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In addition to these, she helped solidify and preserve religious freedom across her domains and elsewhere. 

And even politically, she kept onto traditions such that Sark in Guernsey, a Crown Dependency for which the UK is responsible, was the last area of the world to abolish feudalism. Still, some abnormal rules persist such as no cars and no lights at dark.

Queen Elizabeth II most of all appeared to desire a style of rule that embraced modernity, but kept tradition. Her idea was that institutions needed to evolve with time, but not end.

And these ideas are what we saw most of all during her reign as the British Empire evolved into a democracy across the board, and as such, certain lands would be lost under Queen Elizabeth II, while others would be re-classified like those of the Commonwealth Realms, and others would be kept should they desire like the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland. 

These embraces of democracy are what guided Queen Elizabeth II to strive for neutrality in an ever polarizing partisan world in order to create a unifying institution and a stable part of governance. And it also allowed her to display strength when needed such as in the Australian political scandal of 1975 when Queen Elizabeth II stuck by her Governor-General, and in the Falklands War a decade later when Queen Elizabeth II stuck by the Falkland Islanders in their democratic goal to stay British via armed defense and the military

Now, the powers of the Monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth Realms passes to a king, King Charles III, Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son at 73 years of age. 

As such, King Charles III has become king of the following sovereign-states and dependencies:

  1. United Kingdom
    1. Gibraltar
    2. Bermuda
    3. Turks and Caicos Islands
    4. British Virgin Islands
    5. Cayman Islands
    6. Anguilla
    7. Montserrat
    8. Akrotiri and Dhekelia
    9. Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
    10. Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
    11. Falkland Islands
    12. British Indian Ocean Territory
    13. South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands
    14. British Antarctic Territory
      1. Guernsey (responsibility)
      2. Jersey (responsibility)
      3. Isle of Man (responsibility)
  2. Australia
    1. Ashmore and Cartier Islands
    2. Christmas Island
    3. Cocos (Keeling) Island
    4. Norfolk Island
    5. Coral Sea Islands
    6. Heard Island and McDonald Islands
    7. Australian Antarctic Territory
  3. New Zealand
    1. Ross Dependency
    2. Tokelau
    3. Cook Islands
    4. Niue
  4. Cananda
  5. The Bahamas
  6. Belize
  7. Jamaica
  8. Antigua and Barbuda
  9. Saint Christopher and Nevis
  10. Saint Lucia
  11. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  12. Grenada
  13. Papua New Guinea
  14. Solomon Islands
  15. Tuvalu
Current Commonwealth Realm independent countries in blue, and dependencies in light blue.

Furthermore, King Charles III is now the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and thus a leader of Anglicans worldwide. 

It is highly likely that King Charles III will be well-prepared for this role because he is the longest serving heir apparent to the throne and the oldest successor to the throne in British history! So, he has had a long time as number two to practice and study for this moment. 

King Charles III

But, King Charles III is not quite as popular as Queen Elizabeth II was and therefore, the first order of business might be to start working on how to secure more support in places like Jamaica where the republican movement is strong. Even in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the King’s lack of support might push the republican movements further, especially as there is no longer a woman in charge and the indigenous movements in these latter have greatly shot off. New Zealand is already starting to embrace new flags and a new name for example. 

So, while Queen Elizabeth II was able to hold onto so much power for so long, King Charles III will be in an uphill battle. In terms of overall territories, King Charles III should retain many more proportionally. But, in terms of popularity and the longevity of the monarchy, King Charles III will have to change the hearts and minds of his kingdoms to enshrine his successors’ rule.

NCAA FBS Top 25 Week 1

  1. Alabama 1-0 SEC: Alabama defeated many people’s Mountain West’s favorites 55-0! The Mountain West may be only a shadow of their glory days with Utah, TCU, and BYU, but the conference saw a resurgence last season with Utah State, San Diego State, Air Force, and Fresno State. Nevada was even quite good. So, to win over the 2021 Mountain West Champions in such dominate fashion is quite impressive.
  2. Georgia 1-0 SEC: Georgia’s 49-3 victory over Oregon was the best win this week by far! The Bulldogs dominated a team that could have very well been in the CFP, and who knows, may still work themselves back in there. But, the Bulldogs better beware. While the Ducks have potential, last season they were deceiving. On paper, they were quite good with wins over teams like Ohio State, but in game, they looked quite awful even in their wins.
  3. Ohio State 1-0 Big Ten: The Ohio State scheduled a Top 5 matchup and won. Despite this win, the Buckeyes did not display much excitement. Most Buckeye teams in the past decade would have defeated the Fighting Irish by +20. So, Ohio State really needs to work on their offense or risk losing out on a CFP spot.
  4. Texas A&M 1-0 SEC: Texas A&M did not play as well as they should have defeating a good team for FCS. But, the Aggies still look to be the top favorites to win the SEC West besides Alabama and therefore are clearly a Top 5 team for now.
  5. USC 1-0 Pac-12: USC looked spectacular in their 66-14 win over Rice. This was USC’s most dominating win since the Pete Carroll days and while this hype will probably ware off, these rankings are not for hindsight, rather they are for how teams have performed. The Trojans for now look to be a Top 5 team and the favorites to win the Pac-12.
  6. Clemson 1-0 ACC: Clemson played a close game and then would dominate the last 20 minutes of the game where the Tigers outscored Georgia Tech 27-0.
  7. Oklahoma 1-0 Big 12: Oklahoma defeated a top C-USA team in UTEP handily. This is quite impressive for the new Sooners’ head coach and they continue to look like favorites to win the Big 12.
  8. Michigan 1-0 Big Ten: Michigan won big over Colorado State, a team that could either be really good or really bad. It is tough to tell which Rams team will show up this year for CSU, so this huge Wolverines win it hard to analyze until the future. Yet, a 51-7 win is always good and keeps Michigan comfortably in the Top 10.
  9. Oklahoma State 1-0 Big 12: Oklahoma State looked really good against Central Michigan and despite the final score being 58-44, the Cowboys actually were much better than this against the Chippewas on Saturday. The Cowboys started to tone down their play in the 4th Quarter which led to CMU coming back to make the score closer. Oklahoma State will need to score lots to compete for the CFP and in the CFP if they make it, so this first win was a good sign for the Cowboys’ future.
  10. Baylor 1-0 Big 12: It may have been Albany, but the Bears dominated with 69 points. It looks like regular Baylor service is back and that means lots of points and thus lots of wins. For now, they are clearly at Top 10 team.
  11. Notre Dame 0-1 Independent: If the Buckeyes are as good as expected, and the Fighting Irish continue to compete like they did on Saturday, there is a very good chance that Notre Dame will be in the CFP. But, Notre Dame cannot be Top 10 with a 0-1 record.
  12. Arkansas 1-0 SEC: Arkansas either just beat a Top 4 team or beat a good team in a rebuild. Either way, the Razorbacks look ready to cut away at the SEC and after last season’s massive improvements, Arkansas is mighty capable of being a Top 10 team.
  13. Florida 1-0 SEC: Florida defeated a really good Utah Utes team at home. If the Gators keep this up, Florida will challenge Georgia for the SEC East title.
  14. BYU 1-0 Independent: BYU dominated South Florida 50-21. This win was impressive because the Cougars displayed elite talent to defeat a team full of elite athletes. BYU looks ready to once again go for the CFP, but the Pac-12 looks much better this year and so it will be difficult in the long run to compete for it. However, at the same time, if BYU really does go 12-0 in the regular season, they will almost be a shoe-in for the CFP due to the Pac-12’s improvement thus making BYU better according to the pickers.
  15. Mississippi State 1-0 SEC: The Bulldogs dominated a respectable Memphis side, 49-23. This win shows that Mississippi State can dominate a good athletic and competitive team, which bodes well for their SEC games in the future.
  16. Kentucky 1-0 SEC: Kentucky looks strong and dominated one of the MAC favorites at home. Miami (Ohio) may not be a Georgia or Florida, but they are a top team in an FBS conference. Therefore it was a good win for Kentucky.
  17. Oregon State 1-0 Pac-12: The Beavers dominated Boise State and should contend in the Pac-12 this season.
  18. Wisconsin 1-0 Big Ten: Wisconsin did not get too much of a test against Illinois State but passed it anyway. The Badgers do not look as good as previously.
  19. Miami (Florida) 1-0 ACC: Miami might have played Bethune-Cookman, but they thoroughly dominated scoring 70 points!
  20. Michigan State 1-0 Big Ten: The Spartans looked good in their win over Western Michigan, and due to it being an in-state matchup, the score was actually quite impressive to win by +20.
  21. Washington 1-0 Pac-12: Washington dominated many people’s MAC favorites, Kent State, and it was never really close. Washington has the talent to compete with any team and the home field advantage to defeat any team.
  22. Air Force 1-0 Mountain West: Air Force dominated Northern Iowa, a team that often plays close to Iowa and Iowa State. As of now, Air Force looks like the clear Mountain West favorites in a conference that looks to be rebuilding.
  23. Arizona 1-0 Pac-12: Arizona dominated one of the best college football teams in the past decade, away, on their opening night at their new stadium. The Wildcats may not stay this good and probably will not, but as of now, they are putting up Top 25 performances.
  24. UCLA 1-0 Pac-12: UCLA has the most talent out of any team on the cusp of the Top 25. Despite starting off slow, UCLA dominated Bowling Green both offensively and defensively. Their ability to use many of their wide receivers and tide ends bodes well for the season because it shows they have depth to compete for a CFP spot given their easy relative schedule and their Power 5 status. The Bruins also have a QB and RB that legit could contend for a Heismen Trophy as they have stellar numbers.
  25. TCU 1-0 Big 12: TCU dominated a Power 5 conference team away, in the second half. But, their first half looks worrying because that slow start was against the Buffaloes who look to be the worst team in the Pac-12, and a team that may expect to not win a single game this season due to their poor play and tough schedule.
  • Pittsburgh 1-0 ACC: The Panthers are supposed to be good, and did defeat Big 12 opposition in the Mountaineers, and an old rival. Still, the Panthers just do not look like a Top 25 team yet. As the season goes on, they probably will be up there.
  • Houston 1-0 AAC: Houston defeated a very good UTSA side in a packed Alamo Dome away. The Cougars’ offense looks electric, but their overall performance was not Top 25. In future weeks, they probably will display Top 25 showings, but not yet.
  • Utah 0-1 Pac-12: Utah should be back in the Top 25 soon. The Utes are really good and were unlucky not to defeat the Gators. The Utes are now the second favorites to win the Pac-12 and has a very good chance to win every game from here on out, and make it to the CFP, barring other teams results and Florida’s.
  • Texas 1-0 Big 12: A win against UL Monroe is always a plus, and to win by 42 points is incredible, but the Longhorns still look like they will struggle to be a Top 25 team. They need more to get into the Top 25.
  • Ole Miss 1-0 SEC: Ole Miss did not look like a Top 25 team on Saturday and that is why they find themselves lower on the list than what many people would expect. But, they still defeated what could be a really good Troy team by 18 points.
  • Kansas State 1-0 Big 12: Kansas State defeated a really good FCS team in South Dakota, 34-0. The Wildcats look good, but they will need more offense to compete in the Big 12.
  • Wake Forest 1-0 ACC: Wake Forest is supposed to be good, but a win over VMI is not good enough to land them in the Top 25, not when other teams had much more inspiring performances against much better teams. They do not deserve this ranking yet, but will most likely earn it as the season goes on.
  • Arizona State 1-0 Pac-12: Arizona State played very well with their new additions in a 40-3 home win over in-state rivals, Northern Arizona from the Big Sky in FCS. ASU has the talent to win the Pac-12, but their program is in such disarray that until they defeat a quality FBS opponent, they still are expected to finish middle of the Pac-12 to below the middle.
  • UCF 1-0 AAC: A big win over SC State 56-10 suggests the Golden Knights are back to a Top 25 program, but more wins are needed to solidify this feeling.
  • Cincinnati 0-1 AAC: The Bearcats need to hope that either Arkansas is really good or that they just had an off game. Either way, it will be difficult for the Bearcats to recover given that Group of 5 teams often do not get a second chance for the CFP, and until last year, never got any chance. Being undefeated was basically a pre-requisite, but they still have a lot to play for.

Conference Rankings:

Conference: Out of Conference Record

  1. SEC: 14-1; Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn, South Carolina, LSU, Vanderbuilt
  2. Big 12: 9-1: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, Texas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, West Virginia, Kansas
  3. Pac-12: 9-3: USC, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona, UCLA, Utah, Arizona State, Oregon, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Washington State, Colorado
  4. Big Ten: 8-0; Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Maryland, Rutgers
  5. ACC: 10-2; Clemson, Miami, Pittsburgh, Wake Forrest, Florida State, NC State, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston College
  6. Mountain West: 9-5; Air Force, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming, Boise State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Colorado State, Hawaii
  7. AAC: 4-7; Houston, UCF, Cincinnati, SMU, East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa, Memphis, South Florida, Temple, Navy
  8. Sun Belt: 8-6; Old Dominion, South Alabama, James Madison, Appalachian State, Louisiana Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Arkansas State, Southern Mississippi, Troy, Marshall, Texas State, Louisiana Monroe
  9. MAC: 5-7; Ohio, Toledo, NIU, CMU, EMU, Miami (OH), Akron, WMU, Buffalo, Bowling Green, Kent State, Ball State
  10. C-USA: 6-10; WKU, UTSA, FAU, UAB, FIU, North Texas, Louisiana Tech, Rice, MTSU, UTEP, Charlotte
  • Independent: 3-6; Notre Dame, BYU, Liberty, UCONN, Army, NMSU, UMASS

Photo from ESPN

The Solomon Islands Repress Freedoms and PNG Territory is Under Threat

The Solomon Islands recently went into a deal with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that would allow the PRC to send “police, armed police, military personnel and other law enforcement” to the country for various reason including “maintaining social order” and “protecting people’s lives and property”.

The Solomon Islands have tried to downplay the worries many in the International Community and especially at home have displayed in the Solomon Islands.

The Pacific is very Christian and pro-democratic. Most people here are against the increasing advances of the PRC to gain a hold of the political and business spheres in these island nations because they fear communist control and eventual corroding effects it will have for their freedom to worship, and their freedom to speak, amongst many other rights such as their de facto and de jure ability to elect their leaders.

Yet, the Solomon Islands have recently upped their media censorship by threatening to ban foreign journalists who are not “respectful” by claiming many engage in “racial stereotypes” when documenting the Chinese question. They claim this is due to Sinophobia and are waged at those who wish to engage non-White nations and cultures that are not democractic.

But, many in the Solomon Islands have been pushing back against their government since they switched their One China Policy from recognizing the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the PRC. And the government has been consistently suppressing the freedom of the press to usurp control. They do not want others in their maritime territory like the Malaitans to have more power than they already do, but they also wish to curb other dissent. The Malaitans come from the second island in the country, Malaita.

This recent example of media censorship wishes to curb dissent on what is most likely, corruption by the Solomon Authorities that most Solomon Islanders are against.

The reaction against the Chinese does not come from Sinophobia, rather it comes from legit abuses of power by the CCP. For example, the people have no issues with the Taiwan Chinese having influence. The framing of this as Sinophobia is a way to justify their repression by clouding their true motives. And, by stating that foreign reporters are concerned because the PRC is a non-White country, they will have to explain why Solomon Islanders themselves feel the same way and are not concerned about “Whiteness”. And, their allegations that these journalists are concerned with a non-democratic culture is true and very alarming for the Solomon Islanders who wish to preserve their democratic institutions. These allegations should not even be addressed, but have to be because many will play into these allegations of Sinophobia.

Lastly on the topic of the Solomon Islands is the fact that the Solomon Islands Prime Minister used language that suggested that democracy and Chinese culture are incompatible, thus already displaying his use of CCP language to communicate. This is despite the fact that Taiwan is fully democratic and functions much higher per capita.

But, now we move onto Papua New Guinea and the threats there.

There are now reports coming out of Australia about an Australian billionaire wishing to sell his private islands, the 21 atolls of the Conflict Islands, a part of Papua New Guinea.

Currently, he wishes to sell to Australian interests at a reduced price, but people connected to CCP interests are among the prospective buyers, and Australia is not engaging as much and nor are any allies or individuals with ties to allied nations.

This is a bid deal. If CCP aligned forces would be on these islands now, the current Australian owner would raise complaints and Papua New Guinea would simply state they are following the law. But, with a CCP aligned owner, the Papua New Guinea government would most likely have to fight in court, and it would be seen as Papua New Guinea fighting the CCP and be framed as Papua New Guinea engaging in Sinophobia, instead of Papua New Guinea simply administering their neutral private property laws.

While a CCP aligned individual would not mean these islands become PRC owned or ruled legally, it does mean that effectively, there could become legal standing for CCP aligned security forces to be allowed onto the islands such as private security. And while Papua New Guinea may seek to fight this, it would effectively create a conflict Papua New Guinea will want to avoid. Enforcing the law against an Australian billionaire and a citizen of an ally nation is much easier than against a citizen and effective representative of a foreign foe.

Even if Papua New Guinea wished to enforce their rules, the CCP-aligned ownership could allow CCP-aligned forces on the islands before anyone knew anything, and by that point, it would become too difficult to move them out.

There could also be mass pro-CCP immigration which could affect voting or business ventures. This happens in the USA, but the US has a much larger population.

Lastly, it could just become a port for CCP exploitation, and without forces on the islands, could prove too difficult to control.

And in any of these events, the amount of time it would take the courts to settle these disputes may give the CCP enough time to accomplish their goals and make any previous situation impossible to revert back to.

One of these events at the very least is likely to happen and that is why many are worried. These islands are close to the Solomon Islands and Australia and thus provide an immideate security risk to others as well.

Therefore, despite private islands being the equivalent to owning a house in legal terms, in reality, it is the fact that they become so remote making law enforcement difficult. And, powerful nations can exploit this as powerful people do by calling out countries like Papua New Guinea’s bluff. If there is no bluff, this could push for more intervention by the PRC into Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations, and potentially could lead to a battle, at the very least in court. Or, if there is a bluff, it could lead to effective PRC control of islands in the heart of a region traditionally tied the the USA and Australia post World War Two.

These islands would allow CCP to have a deep port too for military ships which is unique for private islands.

And even a greater worry for environmentalists is how important this region is for turtles and plenty of fish populations. From a purely Earth perspective, a change in the status quo is worrying.

In conclusion, these developments this week are troubling because it creates a situation whereby the Solomon Islands may be already losing their freedom of the press due to CCP interests, and a part of Papua New Guinea may become owned by CCP interests. Little by little, the Pacific is losing its American-Australian hegemony, unless these two really start clamping down on these attempts to turn these nations into CCP allies.

Greenland 🇬🇱 Applied to join CONCACAF Earlier this Year

You may know the North American nation of Greenland for the well-known common tale of how Greenland and Iceland were named to confuse future conquerers?

The view from Hotel Angmagssalik over the frozen[-]
fjord in Tasiilaq, Greenland.

Or perhaps, you know Greenland because you really like polar bears and glaciers?

From James Wright Free Press: Polar Bears in Greenland

Or maybe you are a map enthusiast and are drawn to its sheer deceiving size?

Map of Greenland in the World from TUBS (Wikimedia)

There are of course other reasons for knowing Greenland such as their (US) American/NATO Military Bases like Thule Air Base of the US Space Force, as well as for other siginicant or popular reasons such as when former US President Donald Trump offerred to buy Greenland and then Conan O’Brien in went to Greenland.

But, unless you are a team handball enthusiast, I doubt you know Greenland because of sporting excellance.

Suffice to say, there are many fun facts to know about Greenland, but their sports scene is almost completely unknown to the common person.

But, why is this?

Due to its political classification as a constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark, or in other words, a non-sovereign state, Greenland like other effective dependencies are not automatic shoe-ins for the world governing bodies. And therefore, Greenland often does not feature in major sporting events and often does not even have the chance to.

For example, they are not an IOC member and cannot compete in the Olympics, they are not a FIFA (association football) member and cannot compete in the World Cup, let alone World Cup Qualifications, and they are not members of FIBA (basketball), FIVB (volleyball), UCI (cycling), ITTF (table tennis), and plenty of other sporting federations that even the most obscure nations like Montserrat and Anguilla tend to be a part of.

The reasons for this are that nations like Greenland often have to have extra reasons to be admitted into these great sporting federations because they lack this independence so crucial to the way we understand national teams today. And therefore, any splots on their record and Greenland are almost guaranteed not to be allowed to join.

Despite these limitations, many national associations exist in sporting federations like FIFA that are in the same or similar political situations to Greenland.

For example, US-Territory Puerto Rico is one of the best baseball nations on the planet, and they compete independently of the USA in international baseball and most other sports like their famous basketball team too. They are also an IOC and FIFA member.

Another example would be French Polynesia usually denominated using the name, Tahiti, its biggest and most popular island. Despite being a French administrative division, Tahiti competes in most sports from FIFA to FIBA to the IOC. In fact, for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, Tahiti will host the surfing competition.

Lastly, and most notably in FIFA are the home nations of the UK, in the same status as Greenland as constituent countries, but of a different sovereign country. These are England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland who all compete as different nations in FIFA due to historic and talent reasons. These nations are all part of Great Britain in the IOC so for Olympic Football, they compete as Great Britain, with Northern Ireland players able to choose between Great Britain or Ireland.

And, like these home nations, other constituent countries already exist in FIFA too such as those of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Aruba.

And closer to home are the constituent countries a part of the Kingdom of Denmark that are FIFA members: Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

Only in Greenland’s (Danish) and Sint Maarten’s (Dutch) cases are constituent countries not members of FIFA and even in Sint Maarten’s case, their soccer association is a CONCACAF member.

So, what makes Greenland’s and Sint Maarten’s case different?


For example, in UEFA’s case (Europe), UEFA created a rule at the turn of the century that made having statehood membership in the UN a requirement. But, those that were already members or already applied to be members did not have to worry about this ruling. As such, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Faroe Islands continued to be members. Denmark and the Netherlands, despite being constituent countries as well, are seen as sovereign-states in this context because if their other constituent countries did not have national teams, then these two would still compete under these names and their flags as the sovereign-state. As is, most people view these national teams in this way. So, they do not really count for this conversation.

In addition, this allowed Gibraltar to become a member in 2016, because Gibraltar had applied for membership in 1999 before the rule change.

But, Greenland did not apply before the turn of the century, and therefore Greenland is not eligible for UEFA membership.

Therefore, Greenland is now looking to CONCACAF which makes the most sense anyway, considering the nation is in North America. This is why they have submitted their application to join CONCACAF earlier this year.

However, CONCACAF requires a 3,000 seat stadium and a certain distance between the stadium and an international airport, which the current national stadium does not provide. Luckily, Greenland is expected to have a domed stadium that would fit these requirements. They just need the funding. And, Nuuk International Airport is expanding which will close the distance. With CONCACAF stamp legitimacy, funding will be easier to obtain too.

While the new domed stadium is being built, Greenland would have an opportunity to play in Canada, the USA, or even Iceland similar to how other nations have played in neighboring nations like Gibraltar did in Portugal until 2020 (competitively).

As to their political status, Greenland should be completely fine as many national team members are less politically independent within CONCACAF and many of those nations have been admitted recently such as Bonaire last decade. Bonaire is a special municipality of the constituent country of the Netherlands with inside the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so its admission signals that Greenland politically has a high chance to earn CONCACAF membership.

But, then there is the geographical and competitive structures. As to the first point, the tale of Greenland’s and Iceland’s names, this has to do with why Greenland has failed to earn both CONCACAF and FIFA membership.

Up until 2004, FIFA required nations to have a natural grass pitches which Greenland was incapable of growing. Most of Greenland’s pitches were sand and gravel.

However, since 2004, FIFA allows nations to use specified and approved artificial turf as a playing surface which Greenland started to put into their soccer communities in 2010, and at their current national stadium in 2016. Now there are many more all over the island.

In terms of competition, despite their league being very short, only a week long, their competition actually lasts much longer regionally to get to this national level due to geographic reasons. The nation is the world’s largest island geographically, and there are not many transportation options that are safe or do not cost a lot. In other FIFA nations like Liechtenstein, their national championship is not very interactive either because unlike Greenland, Liechtenstein only has a Cup. Their clubs play in the Swiss Leagues for league competition. These comparisons bode well for Greenland’s application to FIFA and the potential allegations waged at them that could be used as reasons to preclude them from FIFA membership.

Furthermore, there are over 39 clubs and 5,000 players, in a nation of more than 55,000 people when looking at Greenland Football. This means around 10% of the country plays association football, a very high number that surpasses the likes of Guatemala which often ranks toward the top of the list of association football players per capita, usually only behind Germany.

These numbers are much more impressive than many CONCACAF and FIFA members, so these are good numbers to present to FIFA and CONCACAF.

Therefore, Greenland does look likely to become a CONCACAF member, especially if their new dome is even more planned out and CONCACAF is able to see real validity in these claims.

Not only this, but Greenland has a talent level superseding many in CONCACAF already according to Danish coaches such as their head coach who has said that Greenland performs at a Danish 3rd tier level. Once Greenland achieves CONCACAF membership, this level of play is expected to increase as the Greenlandic people will have more funding to build more infrastructure to play more, and will be able to better recruit their diaspora to their national team, such as those based in mainland Denmark.

And, with regards to FIFA, Greenland appears to have what it needs to join, outside of one important factor missing, and that is that FIFA has an independent country restriction now too.

Yet, there are no disputes about Greenland’s political status and therefore, it is highly unlikely that a Greenland application will draw much push back. The only pushback will be from other nations in similar positions wishing to be included who will use Greenland as a reason they should be included.

However, outside of a few sovereign states that are not member nations of FIFA like Monaco for example, most of these other would be FIFA members have less self-governance than Greenland, leaving a good argument for FIFA to use against letting in more of these nations. Only the Dutch constituent country of Sint Maarten has an equivalent status to Greenland and is not a FIFA member, as well as Niue (New Zealand) which is in another peculiar non-sovereign country status.

Therefore, Greenland’s application status is very likely to be accepted, at the very least by CONCACAF, especially if these new improvements to their footballing infrastructure are as true as they advertise. And as a CONCACAF member, Greenland would be very close to earning FIFA membership, if not inmideately.

This would not be completely foreign to Greenland though.

Greenland is one of North America’s best team handball nations and is a member of the IHF. This allowed Greenland to qualify for the 2001, 2003, and 2007 World Championships.

These exploits may not be likely to be matched in association football, but with more investment, there is a good chance we could see Greenland at least try for these seemingly unattainable goals.

For now, the Greenland Football Association (KAK) is independent and competes in various competitions like the Island Games. They used to be a part of CONIFA, a FIFA like federation for non-FIFA member nations such as Kiribati, Northern Cyrpus, Easter Island, Hawaii, Chagos Islands, and Kárpátalja.

Greenland Football Association (KAK) from the KAK webiste

FIFA Bans the All Indian Football Federation

FIFA has banned the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) which means India will not be allowed to compete in any FIFA or Asian Football Confederation (AFC) competitions for this indefinite period of time.

Why was India Banned?

India was banned “due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes.

This third party was the Indian Supreme Court who had disbanded the AIFF earlier this year in May, due to their delayed elections for new leadership that were scheduled for December 2020. FIFA and the AFC responded with an ultimatum that would include an amendment to AIFF statutes and planned elections for 15 September 2022 latest.

The Supreme Court had set up a 3-man Committee of Administrators (CoA) that included a retired Supreme Court judge and on 3 August, the Supreme Court ruled that the AIFF needed to conduct a swift election. The CoA also are now controlling the Federation per Supreme Court orders over the AIFF Executive Committee.

These actions banned the AIFF because according to FIFA rules, member national federations like the AIFF for India must be free from legal and political interference in their respective countries. Currently, the Supreme Court appears to be in control of the AIFF.

From: AIFF

When did the Ban Happen?

The ban happened 15 August.

What are the immideate ramifications of this ban?

The immediate ramifications are that the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 that was scheduled to be hosted by India in October is removed from India for now.

From: FIFA

In addition to this, Indian National Teams for either men’s or women’s and for all age groups will not be able to play in FIFA or AFC matches while the ban is in place.

This also applies to Indian clubs playing in AFC or FIFA competitions.

From: AFC Champions League; Mumbai City FC (India) celebrate their 2-1 win over Air Force Club (Iraq) in the AFC Champions League Group B. This was the first AFC Champions League Group Stage win by a club from India.

There will still be able to be competition within India though, so the domestic club season will continue, such that the Durand Cup and Indian Super League will still be played.

What needs to happen to lift the ban?

FIFA and the AFC had created a road map with Indian Football representatives following the issues earlier this May with Supreme Court interference. They had set up a path for the AIFF to hold elections and truly regain their independent and free governing status.

However, following this August Supreme Court interference, FIFA in conjuction with the AFC issued a statement: “AIFF was to call for a special general assembly in the first week of August 2022 to approve the new statute worked upon with FIFA, the AFC and the Indian football community. Unfortunately, we have been informed that the Supreme Court’s hearing held yesterday on the situation of the AIFF allegedly resulted in deviations to the aforementioned roadmap. If this is considered to be true, it would irrefutably jeopardise the mutual understanding which was displayed so far on the steps forward.

Therefore, in order for the AIFF to have their suspension lifted, the AIFF must regain their free and independent administrative function and thus their executive committee needs to be reinstated and replace the CoA. This is what FIFA wrote: “The suspension will be lifted once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs.

Who is to blame for this debacle?

According to many across the Indian Football community, the main person to blame is Praful Patel, the former AIFF President. He stayed in office past his term without elections and this is what propelled the Supreme Court to make their decisions and cause their interference.

Many in Praful Patel’s opposition accuse him of seeking the President of the AIFF office for life, without challengers. He had been in charge for 13 years, despite there being a limit on only three four year terms.

Praful Patel is also the person who is alleged to have written the letter that would ban the AIFF from FIFA and it is rumored he was even part of the FIFA panel that unanimously banned the AIFF from FIFA.

And now, the CoA has filed a petition of contempt of the court against Praful Patel due to his activities to undermine the Supreme Court’s rulings. In addition to working from with inside FIFA and through media channels, Praful Patel also has been engaging with the state football associations in India to use their collective force to upend the CoA control of the AIFF to demand a re-implementation of AIFF Executive Committee control.

But, the Supreme Court still interfered in the AIFF affairs which is clearly against the rules. Therefore, despite Praful Patel allegedly being in the wrong, the Supreme Court is completely in the wrong for interfering so much.

However, how is a country supposed to enforce their own national federation’s rules if the national federation does not? Unfortunately, the proper channels often lead to inaction for many years. Nonetheless, the proper channels must be gone through because or else, you leave federation statuses up to the whims of politics, and many countries are very authoritarian. This would risk the independence and freedom of national football associations/federations in the future if India, a democratic and republic, would be allowed to have third parties via legal or politics interfere in their own association football federation.


An agreement needs to be reached fast so that the AIFF might be allowed to negotiate to continue hosting the U-17 Women’s World Cup this October, and so that all the other national teams and clubs can continue to develop with competition from outside India.

As of now, it appears that the quickest way would be to put the AIFF administration back into power.

But, in the long term, if some of these actors are this bad and corrupt, it may be best to continue this disagreement until a fair agreement is reached.

In my opinion, I would bring the AIFF back in charge, host the U-17 World Cup, and then re-engage with this power struggle in Novemeber during the 2022 FIFA World Cup when India will not be playing meaningful international football much.

From: Zee News; Indian National Football Team celebrates their 0-0 2022 World Cup qualifying draw against defending Asian Champions and 2022 World Cup host nation, Qatar. This result was an encouraging sign for the national team as they performed well against a World Cup level team.

El Salvador Football Federation on Verge of FIFA Ban

El Salvador’s Football Federation (FESFUT) has been receiving pressures to change their leadership from INDES, the Salvadoran Sporting Federation of which President Bukele’s half-brother is the president of.

INDES is a governmental institution in charge of most of the major sports federations since 1980, but the sports federations are supposed to be almost completely autonomous and INDES is supposed to be highly decentralized. However, just recently, a disciplinary or ethics court tied to INDES held a session where they suspended 7 Executive Committee Directors of FESFUT for not adapting to the new Salvadoran governmental statutes that require sports federations and organizations like FESFUT to comply with governmental orders. As a result, INDES has replaced these directors with their own Normalizing Commission.

This is tied to an investigation by El Salvador’s Attorney General on money laundering allegations waged at FESFUT. Police have even entered the premises of FESFUT offices.

The Salvadoran Football Federation sees these undue pressures as political interference, as does CONCACAF and FIFA.

CONCACAF and FIFA also only recognize the 7 Directors who were suspended, and not INDES’s Normalizing Commission.

Therefore, INDES has only until 25 July 2022 to re-institute the 7 directors, and let go of their Normalization Committee, or else FIFA will hold their own investigation that might lead to the suspension of El Salvador from international football!

Whether or not the Attorney General has to stop their criminal investigations too is not yet known.

FIFA and CONCACAF both have made absolutely clear that member federations must be outside of political pressures, similar to a country’s Red Cross/Red Crescent organization.

This means that the football federations should really act as an independent extension of the nation outside the purviews of the government or political organization in the nation in question. In other words, the national team is not just an extension of the President or King or Supreme Leader.

But, INDES’s president stated that the disciplinary or ethics court is completely independent of the El Salvador Government and INDES was merely only responded to this independent court’s decisions. FIFA and CONCACAF would probably disagree on this court’s independence as well.

Furthermore, already, three straight days of top division football matches have been canceled as referees do not have the endorsement to officiate and thus they have not showed up. INDES has set up their own under-21 league with exceptions for three over-21 players as a response.

One must understand too that El Salvador has had issues with corruption due to money before in 2018 when their national team coach was suspended by FIFA for match fixing, although it was not to throw a game, rather it was to incentivize El Salvador to win or not lose by a lot via a third party to help his native Honduras who would benefit from a good El Salvador performance. And, earlier in last decade, El Salvador suspended 22 players for match fixing such as a 0-5 loss to Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup and a 1-2 loss to the USA in 2010.

So, El Salvador already has a history in investigating criminal behavior with people in their Football Federation.

However, a few deep questions must be asked from both sides.

One, is this part of the growing political tensions by the USA to put pressure on El Salvador to re-engage with the economic community and the IMF and World Bank under the US Dollar, as well as to stop cozying up to the People’s Republic of China which is paying for El Salvador’s new national football team’s stadium? If true, this would suggest that FIFA has now become a political wing of the USA itself which many allege following the US-led arrests of officials like Sepp Blatter, the ignoring of President Trump’s political pressures on the rest of the national federations to vote for the USA-Mexico-Canada 2026 FIFA World Cup bid, and the latest suspension of Russia from the 2022 FIFA World Cup despite football federations having supposedly been free and independent of the politics in a country. It appears that if this theory is correct, that the USA may be trying to crush the soft power a national football team brings a nation. Considering that El Salvador is embarking on a new path with Bitcoin and new allies, as well as are competing better in numerous of sports most notably their favorite sport of football, it would be mightily astute of the USA to try and put a stop to the improvements of El Salvador’s football program because it would decrease President Bukele’s popular appeal giving the two political parties the USA has balanced so well for so long a boost to regain a lead in the polls for the next election and subsequent elections. Just think of the campaigns: “President Bukele’s failed Bitcoin experiment, increasing authoritarianism, and nepotism was bad enough, but now he has kicked our La Selecta out of football! Not even football is free from the grasps of the Bukele Clan!”

Two, is this part of the growing trend of authoritarianism of President Bukele? This is a real question many people in the region will want to ask and if true, FIFA and CONCACAF are making the right move. President Bukele is known to have brought in soldiers into Parliament to get a bill passed, has overiden precedents by stocking up the court which has changed the term limits from only one term in a row, to two consecutive terms of five years each allowed, and has recently been instigating a crack down on gangs that many consider to be another rendition of government brutality and overreach as allegations suggest these are violent and indiscriminate!

But, these first two questions are probably not as likely as the third question that must be asked, as these first two questions are riddled in conspiracy and potential hearsay, even if they are the more fun and partisan questions to ponder.

This third question is, is this really just part of President Bukele’s crackdown on crime thus shining a further question onto the gray areas in sports federation laws?

IOCs and FIFA federations are most notable and most popular in this field and we often see federations punished for political interference all the time, but it often comes with much controversy. For example, with this case, many Salvadorans who overwhelmingly support President Bukele understand that for centuries, El Salvador has been pillaged by corrupt officials and monopolistic business dealings that have concentrated wealth at the top and left none for most of the other people. And, the international community has facilitated this under the USA’s Monroe Doctrine since 1843, allowing the USA to dictate policy in the area. When the USA has not, the Soviets and other Marxists like Venezuela and Cuba took a crack, and they promoted quite awful and corrupt policies that exist in their countries today and Nicaragua under the Ortega regime which they created.

Therefore, is FIFA being part of the problem here if the Salvadoran Football Federation really is corrupt and really is stealing money from the people?

Sure, every countries’ Red Cross, IOC, FIFA federation, and even their ITTF Federation for you table tennis fans is supposed to free of political intervention, but not criminal intervention! If Osama Bin Laden was the leader of the Saudi Arabian Federation, and all the money from the Saudi League was being funneled to Al-Qaeda who continued to bomb places in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, I think that would be appropriate for Saudi Arabia to investigate and suspend the leaders of the Saudi Federation. This case is of course a fictitious example.

But, likewise, if the Russian Government was forcing its players to make pro-War signs against Ukraine and firing people based off of their opinions on President Putin, that would be a case where the Russian Government should stay out of the way of the federation. This is also a fictitious example.

Therefore, I think what is most appropriate in this tense case is for there to be two investigations.

One, El Salvador’s government should be able to continue to investigate the Salvadoran Football Federation as if they are committing crimes like money laundering, that is really bad for an already impoverished country.

Two, FIFA should be able to investigate this investigation to see if it is political or if it is criminal.

Then, if FIFA comes to a conclusion, they should tell El Salvador whether they can continue their investigation and keep their FIFA membership, or whether they have to re-institute the 7 suspended members and stop their political pressures if FIFA determines El Salvador’s government is interfering politically into the Salvadoran Football Federation.

If El Salvador does not comply and they are found guilty by FIFA for interfering politically, then El Salvador’s federation should either be suspended and re-instituted right away to allow for competitive play, or simply be suspended for a year past the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and then re-instituted with changes possibly in time for them to finish their group play in the 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League.

All parties have a vested interest in keeping El Salvador FIFA-approved. El Salvador’s reasoning is simple, they want to contend for the World Cup and other events like the Gold Cup and Nations League like any other nation. FIFA’s reasons are because they want more nations to play to grow the sport and make more money, and to do this, they also have to make sure most nations which are highly corrupt and borderline authoritarian have a way to compete in the World Cup so that the World Cup really is the world’s cup. Plus, FIFA strives on underdogs and El Salvador is one of the nations expected to Qualify for the 2026 World Cup for just the third time in their nations’ history and given their small population and their struggles they have gone through specifically during the Civil War in the 1980s, El Salvador in the World Cup would create a great story line giving more countries hope to keep pumping in more money to try for World Cup glory. Plus, there are over 2 million Salvadoran-Americans and therefore, an El Salvador at the 2026 World Cup would probably feature high attendance. For CONCACAF, they should want El Salvador competing because they are one of CONCACAF’s strongest nations both historically and presently. In the 2021 Gold Cup for example, El Salvador played very well against the Asian Champions, Qatar, and probably should have tied but had bad calls against them. In 4 years time, El Salvador is expected to be much better, especially with the rise in Salvadoran diaspora recruitment happening mostly with American-born Salvadorans who often play in leagues like the USL Championship, the second division of US Soccer, and the MLS, the highest division.

Hopefully this issue gets resolved because it appears to be very important to all parties, but they need to all work together to make sure El Salvador is well for their quests for 2026, as well as other competitions even sooner.

Plus, we must remember women’s football, different age groups, and futsal and especially El Salvador’s very good beach soccer team this might effect. With rising trends in Salvadoran beach tourism and their own prestigious beach soccer cup they host, the growth of beach soccer would be severely elevated with more integration into El Salvador, but a suspension would do the opposite. Plus, crypto-currency companies are a big advertiser in professional football and right now, El Salvador and Miami are the main places holding it up, and coincidentally, Miami is where CONCACAF’s headquarters are. So, for football as a whole, it is better for El Salvador to stay in the World Football Community.

The World Baseball Classic is Back!

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is finally back after having to postpone the 2021 edition due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The 2017 edition was the most successful yet with over 1 million in attendance according to some figures and over 24,000 average attendance, quite high for a tournament that featured two stadiums below this amount: the Gocheok Skydome (16,813) in Seoul, South Korea for Pool A, and Estadio Charros de Jalisco (16,000) in Zapopan (Jalisco), Mexico for Pool D. The other two stadiums used in the First Round were the Tokyo Dome (42,000) in Tokyo, Japan and Marlins Park (36,742) in Miami (Florida), USA. The viewership was even more spectacular with pure numbers from the USA showing that from 6 March to 12 March was the most watched week on MLB Network ever at the time. Overseas, viewership was up all over from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico and Japan. Puerto Rico had over 70% of the TVs watching the WBC Final against the USA while the WBC was the most popular showing on TV in Japan during these games. Merchandise was up too as well as revenue generated at the games and through television. The list goes on and on, but basically, everything was an improvement from the last WBC and the money made exceeded 100 million US Dollars!

The First Round saw some major surprises in Pool A, with newcomers Israel topping the Pool at 3-0, while the Netherlands finished 2-1. Baseball blue bloods South Korea finished 1-2 and Chinese Taipei finished 0-3. This was a great story for baseball in the Middle East and for the wider Jewish Community as it displayed the best parts of baseball and that is that no matter what you look like or who you are, what is important is your ability to play this great game! Israel were the underdogs, but came out as the Group Victors.

From The Denver Post

Pool B was close between #2 and #3. Japan dominated finishing 3-0 as expected, and PR China finished 0-3 as expected. But, Cuba and Australia were quite even, with Cuba barely edging out Australia 4-3 in the deciding third group game for both teams.

Pool C was a lot less close than expected because Canada failed to show up. But, because they were Canada, everyone knew it was going to be a difficult group because of their potential, despite finishing 0-3. The Dominican Republic dominated both Canada and Colombia, and won a close one with the USA to go 3-0, while the USA barely defeated Colombia 3-2 and then also defeated Canada to finish 2-1 in the group and advance.

Pool D was the most exciting! Puerto Rico finished 3-0, while Italy, Venezuela, and Mexico all finished 1-2. However, Mexico finished 4th in the tiebreaker on run against during defensive innings played. There was lots of confusion. And Mexico felt extra bad because they had given up 5 runs to Italy in the Top of the 9th to lose 9-10 in their first game. Venezuela won the tiebreaker decider over Italy 4-3 to advance.

The Second Round was even more exillerating with Pool E being at the Tokyo Dome and Pool F being at Petco Park (40,162) in San Diego (California), USA.

Pool E saw Cuba lose all three games, while Japan won all three. The Netherlands finished 2nd due to their 12-2 win over Israel.

Pool F saw Puerto Rico win all three games, while Venezuela lost all three. The USA and Dominican Republic game was thus the deciding game in Pool F to see who would finish 2nd and advance to the Semi-finals and this game did not disappoint. It was back and forth and even had a catch over the wall by the USA to secure an out and save a home run. The USA would win 6-3 and advance.

From The San Diego Union-Tribune

The Semi-finals and Final were held at Dodger Stadium (56,000) in Los Angeles (California), USA, the largest baseball stadium in the world!

The Semi-finals pitted the Netherlands verse Puerto Rico and the USA verse Japan.

Puerto Rico won a close game 4-3 to continue their undefeated streak making their second WBC Final in a row.

The USA upset Japan 2-1 to reach their first ever WBC Final!

The Final was set in the City of Angels, the Entertainment Capital of the World!

Over 51,000 people came to the Final and there were many USA and Puerto Rico fans present, as well as fans of the other nations, especially Mexico.

Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, threw out the first pitch.

The Final not only featured the second highest number of attendance with rain expected, but also featured a record number of viewers, including the most viewed Spanish language telecast of a baseball game in the USA ever, as well as the most US viewed WBC game so far!

The USA defeated Puerto Rico 8-0 to win their first World Baseball Classic Championship.

From New York Times

It was a tournament to remember that brought the world together to celebrate the game of baseball.

So, what do we have to look forward to in the 2023 World Baseball Classic?

Who are the nations playing?

Where are the games?

When are the games?

The 2023 World Baseball Classic will feature 20 teams: the USA, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, the Netherlands, Venezuela, Italy, PR China, Israel, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Australia, and then 4 Qualifiers yet to be determined.

The Qualifiers will happen with two different groups, Pool A and Pool B. Each of these groups will feature 6 nations with 2 of these nations each Qualifying for the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Pool A will be played in Regensburg (Bavaria), Germany at Armin-Wolf-Arena (3,100-11,548) from 16-21 September 2022 and will feature Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Great Britain, and South Africa.

Pool B will be played in Panama City, Panama at Rod Crew National Stadium (27,000) from 30 September to 5 October 2022 and will feature Panama, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, and New Zealand.


The 2023 WBC will be played from 8 March to 21 March 2023.

Pool A will be played at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium (20,000) in Taichung, Chinese Taipei and will feature Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy, the Netherlands, and Qualifier #1 from the Qualifications.


Pool B will be played at the Tokyo Dome (42,000-55,000) in Tokyo, Japan and will feature Japan, Australia, PR China, South Korea, and Qualifier #2 from the Qualifications.


Pool C will be played at Chase Field (48,405) in Phoenix (Arizona), USA and will feature USA, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, and Qualifier #3 from the Qualifications.


Pool D will be played at LoanDepot Park (37,442) in Miami (Florida), USA and will feature the Dominican Republic, Israel, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Qualifier #4 from the Qualifications.


Quarterfinal #1 will feature the Top 2 nations from Group A and Group B and will be played 15 and 16 March at the Tokyo Dome.

Quarterfinal #2 will feature the Top 2 teams from Group C and Group D and will be played on 17 and 18 March at LoanDepot Park.

The quarterfinals will feature a knockout style Semi-final whereby the Pool A winner will play the Pool B runners-up and the Pool B winner will play the Pool A runners-up, while the Pool C winner will play the Pool D runners-up, and the Pool D winner will play the Pool C runners-up. The winners of the Pool A and B games will play each other in one final while the winners of the Pool C and D games will play each other in one final. All nations in these finals will advance to the Semifinals at LoanDepot Park.

The Semifinals will be played 19 March and 20 March with the Quaterfinals #1 winner playing the Quaterfinals #2 runners-up and the Quarterfinals #2 winner playing the Quarterfinals #1 runners-up.

The Final will be 21 March with the two semifinals winners playing to win the 2023 WBC!


So, how does this tournament stack up against the 2017 WBC?

For one, the total viewership should be higher as there are more games and nations. A 2021 WBC would have exceeded 2017 numbers in average viewership for sure, but there might be a lack of increase due to a lack of momentum. Therefore advertising will be important and if the WBC uses other networks like they are talking about, then their US numbers will probably be higher.

For total attendance, it should be higher because there will be more games and nations, but, they will not be using Dodger Stadium and LoanDepot Park, formerly Marlins Park, is limited in size. So, average attendance and total attendance might be lower. But, on the flip side, the smallest stadium will be Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium at 20,000, and the other stadiums will be +40,000 with LoanDepot Park just below 40,000. So, total and average attendance should be higher.

Furthermore, while we may not know who the Qualifier nations are yet, just looking at the groups as is, it is clear that the geographic distribution between the groups works out brilliantly.

Having the USA and Mexico in Phoenix should mean sell outs or at the very least, +30,000 attendance for these games. Canada should not draw too large of crowds by itself, but against Mexico and against the USA, the North American rivalry should be there. The viewership for these games though should be really high! There are a good amounts of Colombians in Arizona and nearby California, Nevada, and Utah, but not even close to the amount there are in Florida where Colombia played last time in 2017. So, expect less Colombian fans and the games between Colombia, Canada, and the Qualifier team may not be as high.

Pool D features nations whose diasporas all have large amounts in Florida and especially the Miami area. Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, and DR Dominicans fill the streets of Miami and if they get a Nicaragua or Panama, well then it will be a big Latin baseball party as these nations would all be baseball first nations in an area their diaspora calls home. Miami is not consider the Capital of Latin America for no reason. However, adding in Israel is an amazing call as there are many Jewish people in Florida and Miami especially, and many are from New York and are huge baseball fans. Due to the rivalries between the nations involved, there should be huge viewership too.

Pool B will feature the Japaenese-Korean rivalry in their sport, baseball! By this game itself, the viewership should be highest out of any WBC pool in Tokyo from the First Round. But, then, there is the Japanese-Chinese and Korean-Chinese rivalry on the line. This should keep attendance and viewership high. Then, Japan verse Asutralia should be highly attended and viewed as Australia is considered a top baseball nation and the Japanese really respect the growth of their baseball and will expect a good game.

The Chinese Taipei group will probably not feature high attendance , but because it will feature the first game of the Tournament, viewership should still be lowest of all the pools, but it should be respectable. But, with the relative ease of this group compared to others, Chinese Taipei, Italy, the Netherlands, and Cuba should all find themselves in a competitive group meaning that each nation will be in play for the Second Round longer most likely. This should keep the attendances higher and the viewership higher. If Chinese Taipei is playing well, expect average attendance to be around 15,000, and maybe even more.

The Second Round will most likely have lower total viewership and attendance, but the average viewership and attendance will probably increase. This will be due to less games, but each game being more important.

The Championship Round will most likely have less attendance both in total and average, but the viewership is likely to be higher if new television contracts are worked out and if greater advertisement is out there. In the end, the 2023 WBC should be have higher numbers overall, but would be better served placing the Championship Round in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium again due to the more central location between Asia and the Americas and the higher capacity and the demographics that features more variety, especially for the Asian nations.

UCLA and USC Big Ten Moves are a Sad Day for the Pacific and Unnecessary – From a UCLA fan

The UCLA and USC moves to the Big Ten are a short term investment that leads to a destabilization of Pacific Coast athletics.

Growing up as a Bruins fan, we all watched those games in Corvallis and Seattle, in Pullman and Tempe, seeing our heroes put on the gold helmet to fight to become the “Best Team in the West”.

For us as Bruins, our culture of winning has always been tied to the teams that elevated our success, and those were the Pacific schools around us.

The Pac-10 for some seemed too much of a change due to it including schools in Arizona, not on the Pacific, but with it, we got some great rivalries and football shrines. Tempe was home to the Cardinals and Sun Devils for so long, as well as the Fiesta Bowl, and ASU always filled a team with great athletes. U of A proved tougher on the basketball court overall, but for the Bruins, we feared traveling to Tuscon, especially for Football! For some reason, we just struggled there. And as a whole, the state had some very good baseball and softball!

So, the Arizona schools became the new normal.

As for the Washington and Oregon schools, they were our fierce Northern competitors. Washington was always the team with the most promise because they were in Seattle and on Lake Washington! As far as an on-campus stadium went, there was hardly a better place to play. Washington also proved to be like Tuscon for us Bruins, but for basketball!

Washington State in the meantime, was just such an odd place for us in the Pacific and really anywhere with the Polouse. It is hard to explain how strange it is, but you basically just see so many rolling hills in what appears to be the middle of nowhere until suddenly, you get to the border city of Pullman, with the Idaho Vandalls across the street. Washington State proved to be the true agricultural school of the PAC and displayed a completely different Washington to the Huskies.

Oregon and Oregon State were amazing places to travel too. Playing in Oregon in the Fall and seeing the Autumn trees turn all different colors with the flowing rivers and sometimes, snow too, was such a welcome site to the often overpopulated Pac-12 cities and the very dry Pac-12 cities. And Corvallis was even more unique because unlike Eugene, it truly was a small-town, not just a college-town. With the investment of Nike into the state home to the Willamette River and Crater Lake, these schools soon became home to the best and most technologically advanced athletic company the world has ever seen. And this would have never been possible without the Pac-12.

Lastly, there were the Northern California schools, our immortal enemies besides ourselves in LA. Us 4 dominated so much of the Pac-12 and so much of the NCAA. Between Stanford, UCLA, USC, and UC Berkeley, we could have one of the highest Olympic gold medal tallies, have probably more NCAA D-1 titles than the rest of the country combined (most likely an exaggeration), have a super high GDP, and be one of the most powerful and innovative countries. Why? Because we were California, the home base of the West! These schools challenged us academically and athletically in a way no other school could, not even the football juggernaut Alabama or the academic juggernaut Harvard could.

And that left us with Los Angeles! Los Angeles was not only the home of the West and the Pacific, but also the home of the world! It presented the world with the best athletes and entertainers with two Olympics held at the Coliseum and two World Cups held at the Rose Bowl (men’s and women’s), plus Hollywood and Disney to bring us the movies that instilled in us the greatest tool in sports, never giving up. UCLA Football really took this to heart so many times with their Washington State and Texas A&M comebacks proving to be some of the most exciting examples of perseverance college football has ever seen, as well as UCLA basketball’s historical 2006 comeback against Gonzaga. LA featured the best athletes in football, basketball, baseball, track and field, volleyball, water polo, and so much more like gymnastics, and most likely featured these top stars because from day one, we were taught to dream and to shoot for those dreams! Our music industry created the energy and our movie industry created the belief.

This was the super conference for so long, and the super region! Our conference went past just sports, it was a conference of partnerships, of innovation, of commradery.

It was the conference that created the first bowl game, the Rose Bowl.

It was the conference that won the first NCAA Basketball Championship with Oregon, and then went on to feature the best team of all-time in UCLA!

It was the conference that featured Hollywood, Disney, SpaceX, McDonalds, Apple, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Nike and so much more! It featured the home for the twenty-first century.

And, it was improving too in many ways. Tempe was becoming a hub for all sorts of businesses and tech with ASU’s Business School rivaling that of the best! We saw the additions of Utah and Colorado, and while this may have not been the best for the longevity of the conference, we ended up getting two great schools that fitted in much better than expected, and added another Olympic stadium with the Utes as well as another city that provided the home to a world community in Salt Lake City!

This conference was historic!

Remember going to the Staples Center to see UCLA play the Lopez Brothers at Stanford in the Pacific Life Pac-10 Conference Tournament Final?

Remember seeing the Rodgers brothers dominate with the Beavers and become a household brand while Pete Carroll’s USC dominated the rest of the country?

These are the memories of the West, of the Pacific, where we belong!

Do not congratulate the athletic directors or the deans or presidents or anyone at UCLA and USC for what they did because that took no intelligence! They were never brought in to put Los Angeles in the Midwest.

Rather, true leadership would have not abandoned the schools that made their own schools into the national powerhouses the Big Ten would want anyway.

We do not belong in Ohio or Pennsylvania or New Jersey in the Fall. We belong in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado! We belong in the West!

How can we be the “Best Team in the West” if we do not play there anymore?

True leadership would have found a way to make the Pac-12 work, and loyalty and tradition would have stayed with it to see it regain national prominence. In a conference that brought you the internet, it could figure out a way to bring the Pacific together once again into the Conference of Champions it had always been.

I know the last few years had been tough. But, I also thought our Pac-12 family meant more than just a paycheck. I did not realize the people that ran the Los Angeles schools did not think of the West as their home. I did not realize that in an ever globalized world, that we would think it was best to leave a network that connected the world’s most important ocean to the world’s most important countries, companies, and innovative human capital.

We were a conference that had a connection to each other. That connection, that familial bond of over 100 years, something 100 million dollars could never buy is now gone, and for what?

Now when our schools compete in the National Tournaments and playoffs, we will no longer be representing the West, the Pacific! We have abandoned one of the most important parts of our cultural connection we shared with many of our surrounding states. These are our neighbors and family. These are the people we lean on when we need help the most. And it was not necessary to leave them. We could have spurred the Pac-12 back into national prominence. Or have we lost our sense of leadership and become followers and bystanders to the demise of our own region?

The downfall of the Conference we love is upon us and our leaders are the ones that initiated it!

Updates on 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying and All the Teams Qualified for the FIFA World Cup

2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Matches during the June Window:

Europe (UEFA):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Second Round: The Group Runners-Ups from the First Round advanced to the Second Round of Qualifiers. The Top 2 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League Group Winners, who are neither Group Winners or Group Runners-Ups, advanced to the Second Round of Qualifiers, which is comprised of three four team playoff single-elimination semi-finals, with randomized chosen hosts for the semi-final and final. The three final winners of these four playoff semi-finals Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. For the June 2022 window, only Pathway A was still to be decided, with only Wales-Austria Semi-final having been played.

Path A:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:


Scotland 1 Ukraine 3


Wales 1 Ukraine 0


Wales: Wales were fantastic to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, having beaten Austria 2-1 in March at home in the Path A Semi-finals, and then defeating a good Ukrainian side 1-0 at home in the Path A Final in June. However, despite this victory in June, Wales did not look very good, only winning from an own goal by Ukraine. Ukraine dominated the match outshooting Wales 22 (9) to 10 (3) and holding 68% of the possession. In Wales other matches, in the UEFA Nations League A Group 4, Wales has suffered a terrible June Window! Wales lost to Poland away 1-2, but in an even match where Wales was only out possessed 44% to 56% and outshot 14 (2) to 15 (3). Their next Nations League match saw Wales lose at home in the last moments to the Netherlands. The Netherlands had been leading 1-0 since the 50th Minute, and then Wales scored late in the 90th Minute +2, only for the Dutch to score in the 90th Minute +4 to win 2-1! Wales were better on the shot count 8 (3) to 8 (2) and only lost out on the possession battle 43% to 57%. Wales next match was home to Belgium, and in this match, Wales scored a late goal in the 86th Minute to draw 1-1, outshooting Belgium 14 (2) to 9 (4) and being out possessed 36% to 64%. Wales last match of the June Window saw the Welsh lose an away match against the Netherlands 2-3, again in the dying moments. The Netherlands went up early 2-0 (17th and 23rd Minute), before Wales scored in the 26th Minute to keep the score 1-2. Wales then scored in the 90th Minute +2, only for Memphis Depay to score for The Flying Dutchmen in the 90th Minute +3. The Dutch dominated the stats outshooting Wales 22 (7) to 9 (4) and earning 60% of the possession. Wales currently sit at the bottom of their Group with 1 Point, while the Dutch have 10, Belgium has 7, and Poland has 4. While this is a tough group with all national teams being 2022 FIFA World Cup teams, it does signal that Wales is not a strong team in its current form. But, likewise, this June Window also displays that Wales can hang with any team. The Welsh are good enough to beat and lose to most teams in Group B for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and they will be looking to get more competitive matches in time to play the USA, IR Iran, and England. Wales count on Real Madrid super star Gareth Bale to provide leadership and attacking ability to this Group B as arguably the best player in the Group. This will be only the second time for the Welsh to feature in the FIFA World Cup, their last edition being in 1958. However, Welsh Football predates most national teams and Wales has won the pre-cursor to the World Cup many times, and henceforth, does have a history of being the best football nation in the world on certain years.

Ukraine: Ukraine was the most talented team in Path A, and their elimination from the 2022 FIFA World Cup leaves Ukraine wondering what can their national football program push for next. Ukraine messed up having not won enough in the First Round, finishing 2-6-0. Had Ukraine won some more of those matches, they most likely would have never had to go through this extra qualifier. Ukraine were the better side than Wales, but failed to display it on the scoreboard. Ukraine’s June Window featured a 3-1 away victory over Scotland in which the Ukrainians dominated the shot count and possession, and their 0-1 loss to Wales away in 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. In the UEFA Nations League B Group 1, Ukraine had a good away victory over the Republic of Ireland 1-0 where the shot count was almost even, and the possession count favored Ukraine. Ukraine followed up this win with a 3-0 thrashing of Armenia with all goals coming in the 2nd Half. Ukraine’s final match in the June Window was a 1-1 home draw in Poland against the Republic of Ireland in which the Irish struck first in the 31st Minute, but the Ukrainians answered back in the 47th Minute. Ukraine dominated the possession, but the shot count was almost completely even. Ukraine sits on top of their Group 1 with 7 Points, followed by Scotland (6), the Republic of Ireland (4), and Armenia (3).

Scotland: Scotland should be disappointed with their loss in the Path A Semi-final, as the Scottish had enough firepower to really win that match but never showed up. Scotland’s loss at home that led to elimination from the 2022 FIFA World Cup was met with a good display in the UEFA Nations League B Group 1. Scotland started off with a 2-0 thumping of Armenia at home, where the Scottish dominated the shot count 27 (6) to 4 (3) and held 72% possession. However, the Scottish probably should have won by more. Scotland’s next match was a 0-3 loss away to the Republic of Ireland, in a match which saw the Scottish dominate possession and total shots. But, the Republic of Ireland were much more efficient dominating shots on target and goals, the most important statistic. Scotland finished out their June campaign with a 4-1 away win over Armenia, where this time, the Scottish were quite efficient as they only had 14 shots and 7 on target, but scored 4 goals. They also held 70% of the possession. Armenia, however, were also better in the attack having 9 shots and 4 on target, and were actually up after the 6th Minute until Scotland scored a 14th Minute equalizer, followed by goals in the 45th +1 Minute, in the 50th Minute, and in the 53rd Minute.

Asia (AFC):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Fourth Round: The Third Round Group A and Group B 3rd Place Teams play each other in a one-off match held in neutral Qatar with the winner advancing to the the Intercontinental Playoff to play the South American Fifth Place for one of the last two Qualification Spots at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Fourth Round:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

UAE 1 Australia 2


Australia: Due to Australia having advanced to the Intercontinental Playoff with Peru, we will analyze Australia in the next section.

UAE: The UAE started their June Window at the end of May with a home 1-1 draw against The Gambia. This match was not impressive for the Emiratis who often demand that their nation at least play at a level resembling World Cup level. And this is what the Emiratis delivered against the Aussies in the Fourth Round one-off match in Qatar, where the Emiratis and Australians had been tied for most of the match, barring 4 minutes where Australia led 1-0 (53rd Minute-56th Minute) prior to the UAE’s 57th Minute Goal! The UAE dominated possession 55% to 45%, and the shot count was relatively even, 6 (4) to 8 (4). The UAE played above their level against the Australians, but unfortunately, this was not enough as the Socceroos scored in the 84th Minute to win this match and advance to the Inter-confederation Playoff. The UAE would be eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but their hopes to Qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the USA, Mexico, and Canada should be rekindled given how good their performance was against Australia, and given that the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be expanded to 48 teams. There is a lot to look forward to for Emirati Football.


FIFA Inter-confederation Playoffs:

The FIFA Inter-confederation Playoffs (also called the Intercontinental Playoffs) featured the Asian Fifth Place Team, Australia, playing the South American Fifth Place Team, Peru, and the North American Fourth Place Team, Costa Rica, playing the Oceanian First Place Team, New Zealand, with both matches happening in neutral Qatar in a one-off match. The Winners of these two matches Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup!

FIFA Inter-confederation Playoffs:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Australia 0 (5-4 in Penalty Kick Shootouts) Peru 0

Costa Rica 1 New Zealand 0


Australia: Australia must be overjoyed to have Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the Socceroos making a 6th straight appearance at a FIFA Men’s World Cup. Despite having to comeback, Australia started off their June Window in dominating campaign defeating Jordan 2-1 in a friendly in Qatar, outshooting the Jordanians 15 (5) to 5 (1) and out possessing their opponents 60% to 40%. While the scoreline may not show it, this match was a really good display by Australia. Australia, however, did not make their Fourth Round easy as the Emiratis dominated possession and kept the shot count almost even. The Australians would score in the 53rd Minute, only for the UAE to score in the 57th Minute. The deciding moment came in the 84th Minute when Ajdin Hrustic scored the match winning goal for the Socceroos who went onto win 2-1. Australia’s last match of the June Window came against Peru in the Inter-confederation playoffs. Australia was picked by most experts to lose and were the clear underdogs. However, despite this, Australia came out firing on all cylinders against their South American opponents. Australia would out shoot Peru 11 (2) to 10 (1), and held 47% of the possession. Australia’s defense and overall play allowed the Aussies to extend the match into Extra Time and then Penalty Kick Shootouts. Australia’s Andrew Redmayne would be subbed in for the Penalty Kick Shooutout as a goalkeeping specialist. This proved to be pivotal as Andrew Redmayne would save the 6th shot from Peru and Australia would Qualify via a 5-4 victory on penalty kick shootouts after a 0-0 result through 120 Minutes. Australia displayed their hunger to keep surviving and advancing in these two World Cup Qualifying one-off matches, as well as their poise. This should serve them well in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Australia will join France, Denmark, and Tunisia, and given their display in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and their display in the June Window, Australia should really believe they can finish Top 2 in Group D.

Costa Rica: Costa Rica started off their June Window very suspect, having lost away to Panama 0-2 in the CONCACAF Nations League A Group B. This was payback as Costa Rica took the Inter-confederation spot instead of Panama earlier this year. Panama dominated Costa Rica 15 (4) to 7 (1) on shots, and held 60% possession. This thorough domination by Panama signaled a weakness in Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s next match was a 2-0 win over Martinique, and while it was a win, it was very unimpressive, as Costa Rica and Martinique practically shared the same shot count, and Costa Rica needed a goal until the 87th Minute to secure a 2-0 lead and thus the eventual win. Thus, Costa Rica went into the Inter-confederation Playoff Semi-final with not a lot of confidence from the surrounding supporters. Costa Rica struck first in this match 1-0 via a goal by Joel Campbell in the 3rd Minute. However, after this, the Costa Ricans mainly defended. The Costa Ricans were out shot 4 (3) to 15 (4) and out possessed 33% to 67%. Costa Rica successfully did defend the rest of the match, mostly, and kept the 1-0 lead until the final whistle, as Costa Rica Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup! Costa Rica should look to improve and not become complacent. With their own domestic league, there are plenty of up and coming players and Costa Rica should develop more of these players and not be afraid to start them over the old guard. Costa Rica started off horribly during their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, but over this last year, Costa Rica has morphed into a super team having lost only one match in 2022, winning 8 of the 9 other matches even if in not so pretty circumstances such as being outplayed by New Zealand. Costa Rica should expect nothing less than to advance out of their Group E, but in reality, Spain, Germany, and Japan will prove very difficult and almost no one besides the Costa Ricans will have Costa Rica advancing to the knockout rounds from this Group, with many probably picking Costa Rica to finish last in Group E.

Peru: Peru had a very bad June Window for the expectations placed on to them following their 5th Place finish in the South American Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Peru was expected to dominate their June Window, but they did anything but that. Peru would play New Zealand in a friendly in neutral Spain in a match which many would have expected Peru to win by multiple goals in comfortable style, but instead, Peru had to wait until the 69th Minute to go up 1-0, and only won 1-0, with the shot count being 8 (1) to 2 (2) with New Zealand having more shots on target, but Peru dominating the total shots, and with Peru having 63% possession. Peru should have scheduled another friendly but their federation seems to have made a huge blunder, because playing New Zealand was not good enough preparation for Australia, and Australia would defeat Peru in penalty kick shootouts to eliminate Peru from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Peru should be massively disappointed and from the looks of the supporters, they are! In Peru’s defense, it did look like Australia’s goalkeeper for the shootout had stepped across the line with both feet before Peru’s first miss, while Peru was up, and if this did happen, then a re-kick should have happened. But, on second look, it appears at least one foot stayed on the line. Either way, Peru should have won in regular time.

New Zealand: New Zealand will most likely Qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup because next World Cup, with 48 teams, Oceania gets 1 automatic team in the World Cup, plus 1 spot in the Inter-confederation Playoffs. Now, while I do believe Australia should come back to Oceania because that is the continent they are in, it appears that Australia likes the Asian challenge and thus, New Zealand will probably get this top spot. As it is, New Zealand proved very good in their June Window. New Zealand narrowly lost to Peru in neutral Spain, and then tied probably the 7th best team in Asia right now, Oman, 0-0 in neutral Qatar, followed by their narrow 0-1 defeat to Costa Rica, North America’s 4th best team, in the Inter-confederation Playoff. New Zealand will fill robbed to have not tied Costa Rica as they had a goal called off from a VAR check to tie the match at 1-1, and thus would lose 0-1 as a result, eliminating them from 2022 FIFA World Cup. But, New Zealand’s play against these three teams suggests that New Zealand could have been competitive at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is really of no surprise when you see that their roster includes some Serie A, Turkish Süper Lig, and Premier League players, including one of the best strikers in national team football, Newcastle United’s Chris Wood. And, the last time New Zealand was in the World Cup finals, New Zealand went undefeated and were the only team to do so, as they finished 0-3-0 in 2010.

National Team Updates for the national teams who already Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the previous windows of Qualifications:

Europe (UEFA):

Germany: Germany looks to be a very competitive team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup coming off of a June Window which saw the 4 time World Cup Champions go 1-3-0. Germany was playing in the UEFA Nations League A Group 3. Germany opened up against Italy drawing away, 1-1, having dominating the possession with 68%, and outshooting the Italians 12 (4) to 11 (2). Germany’s next match saw the Germans draw at home 1-1 against England. England dominated the shot count 15 (6) to 10 (6), but the Germans once against dominated possession with 63%. Germany was up from the 50th Minute, until the 88th Minute when England’s Harry Kane scored a penalty kick goal. Germany’s next match was a come from behind draw away to Hungary, where Germany actually was only down for 3 minutes. Hungary scored in the 6th Minute, and then Germany scored in the 9th Minute, and that was it, 1-1. Germany dominated the possession with 68% of it, but did not do much with it, as the Hungarians dominated the shot count 11 (7) to 6 (1), and probably should have won. This Hungarian side is very good right now, and had they played like this from the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Europe, Hungary would also be going to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Germany’s last match was a 5-2 home win over Italy where Germany outshot the Italians 17 (9) to 14 (6), and out possessed Italy 66% to 34%. Germany sits in 2nd Place in Group 3 with 6 Points, behind Hungary with 7 Points, and in front of Italy with 5 Points and England with 1 Point. Germany will join Spain, Japan, and Costa Rica in Group E at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and will be favored to advance to the knockout rounds. Depending on their results in September, Germany will either be favored #2 or #1 in the Group, but right now, Spain is probably favored to top Group E.

Denmark: Denmark had a very good June Window going 3-0-1 to lead their UEFA Nations League A Group 1, with 9 Points, followed by Croatia with 7 Points, Austria with 4 Points, and France with 2 Points. Denmark started off with a 2-1 comeback away win over France thanks to 68th Minute and 88th Minute goals by Andreas Cornelius. Denmark, however, was thoroughly outplayed with France dominating the shot count 19 (6) to 8 (5), and holding 60% of the possession. Next, Denmark would defeat Austria away, 2-1, after a late 84th Minute winning goal by Jens Styger Larsen. Denmark, however, was again outshot 17 (1) to 8 (6), and out possessed 55% to 45%. Denmark’s next match was a 0-1 loss at home against defending World Cup Runners-up, Croatia, a match in which Denmark actually outshot Croatia 14 (1) to 9 (2), but Croatia held 52% possession. Denmark’s next match was a 2-0 home win over Austria, their best match yet where Denmark out shout the Austrians 15 (6) to 9 (2) and held 54% possession. Denmark has been playing so well over the last 4 years, advancing to the 2020 UEFA European Championship Semi-finals, having finished 9-0-1 in 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying for Europe, and now, so far leading their 2022-2023 UEFA Nations League Group. But, these results were not as dominating as they probably should have been. Denmark continues to have good attacking efficiency, minus in their defeat at home to Croatia, but the Danish continue to be outplayed overall. Denmark will be in Group D at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, will they will play defending World Cup Champions France, Australia, and Tunisia. Denmark looks like the clear favorites to not only advance from the Group, but also win the Group. However, their overall match play suggests that these other 3 nations can defeat Denmark, and unlike in the European Championships, only the Top 2 can advance and Denmark will need to play better, especially as France will surely be improved by that time.

France: France did not play well during their June Window as evident from their last place standing in their UEFA Nations League A Group 1, with only 2 Points, behind Austria (4), Croatia (7), and Denmark (9). France is finally not getting all of the 50/50 calls, and with this has seen France struggle to win. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup, France was bailed out by bad calls against Australia in their opening match, and in other matches most notably against Croatia in the Final. These bad calls allowed France’s lack luster play to be enough. But, France should be playing better as they had against a lot of the teams in that 2018 FIFA World Cup, as they had in the 2016 UEFA European Championship, and most recently in the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League which they won. But, France should not be depending on a penalty kick decision from a referee in order to win or not lose. France should really be winning more of their matches, and in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Europe, we saw that had other nations done better themselves like they should have, France would have had to go through that extra round of qualifiers. France opened up their June Window with their 1-2 loss at home to Denmark. Ironically, France actually did dominate this match, but lost. Their next match was a very even match where the French tied Croatia 1-1 with the shot count being in favor of the Croatians 8 (5) to 7 (5) and the possession being in favor of the French, 52% to 48%, but unlike in year’s past, the Croatians would get a penalty kick call against the French late into the match, and Andrej Kramarić scored the goal from the spot in the 83rd Minute. To be fair, Croatia should have won this match and missed many opportunities, but so did the French as well. Still, the point is the French left the match open until the very end, and one call against them meant a win became a draw. Against Austria away, France then had to comeback down 0-1 from the 37th Minute until Kylian Mbappé scored in the 83rd Minute to tie the match at 1-1. France dominated the possession 60% to 40% and the shot count 15 (7) to 5 (4). Then, in their next match, the French lost to the Croatians for the first time, 0-1, in a home match for the French as well. The Croatians got a dubious penalty kick awarded to them very early and Luka Modrić scored the penalty kick to put Croatia up 1-0. The French had a call then go against them that looked like a clear penalty in the box, and thus, bad officiating decisions on just two calls canceled out a French goal and gave Croatia a goal, almost as bad as the officiating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final which gave France 2 goals and canceled out a Croatian goal on a bad no call on a penalty in the box for Croatia. Overall, I think the French would take this tradeoff. The French once again dominated the shot count 17 (4) to 4 (3) and the possession 54% to 46%, but they lacked efficiency in the attack! For the French, generally they have ultimate efficiency like the Danish. France will play in Group E at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Denmark, Tunisia, and Australia. While the French were favored to go 3-0-0 before this June Window, now, the French look like they could go 0-0-3 given how good Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia played in June. The worst thing for the French though, is that they held such a huge psychological battle over the Croatians prior to this 0-1 loss as the French had never lost to the Croatians before, despite Croatia having beaten big name teams like Spain and Germany in UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups. This may not seem like a big deal, until you realize that both of France’s World Cup Championships came via a Semi-final victory over Croatia in 1998 and a Final victory over Croatia in 2018. If France meets Croatia in the 2022 knockout rounds, Croatia will be much tougher for France than before.

Belgium: Belgium started off their June campaign horrifically losing to the Netherlands 1-4 at home being outshot 13 (6) to 15 (7) and having equal possession. This loss signaled the greatest weakness for Belgium and that is that Belgium is very reliant on the efficiency of their attack given that their defense is often quite weak, which is usually compounded by their formation that leaves their defense even more vulnerable. Well, the Belgians immediately fixed this attacking efficiency problem and defeated Poland at home, 6-1, dominating the shot count 16 (11) to 6 (2) and the possession 66% to 34%. Belgium’s next match in Wales saw Belgium tie 1-1 in a not so impressive match being outshot 9 (4) to 14 (2) and only having 56% of the possession. Belgium’s next match was also not very impressive, but Belgium did win 1-0 away in Poland with 12 (4) shot to Poland’s 12 (2) shots and 69% possession to Poland’s 31% possession. Belgium displayed a good diversity in wins and draws which is good because it means Belgium is not one dimensional. But, Belgium sits off the pace of their UEFA Nations League A Group 4 with 7 Points, behind the Netherlands with 10 Points, and in front of Poland (4) and Wales (1). Belgium’s goal is to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup, so winning this Group is expected. At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Belgium will be in Group F with Croatia, Morocco, and Canada. Morocco and Canada did not have good June Windows, but both are still very good, especially Canada who has very good counter-attacking abilities that will test out the often weak Belgium defense. Croatia had a good June Window, but are still not to their 2018 Runners-up level yet, making Belgium and Croatia dual favorites to win Group F as of now.

Croatia: Croatia was spending their June Window in the aforementioned UEFA Nations League A Group 1, where the Croatians has a series of firsts! First, Croatia really started off horribly losing to Austria 0-3 at home in Osijek losing to Austria for the first time in their history having beaten Austria the previous 5 times! Croatia had dominated the possession 61% to 39%, but no the shot count 13 (3) to 14 (8). Croatians were furious because Croatia had looked to finally be getting better following their disastrous 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League campaign. Croatia had not been too impressive these past 4 years, but had done enough to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, for the 2020 European Championship, and to stay in the UEFA Nations League A. Croatia followed up this loss with a 1-1 home draw in Split against France, their archenemies. Croatia barely had an advantage in the shot count 8 (5) to 7 (5), but also barely had a disadvantage in the possession 48% to 52%. Overall, it was an even match, which the Croatians probably should have won given some of their chances. Croatia followed up that performance with a 1-0 win away over Denmark, with Mario Pašalić scoring a 69th Minute match winning goal. The Croatians held the possession advantage at 52% just slightly, and the shots on target 2 to 1, but were outshot in total shots 9 to 14. It was a good away win over a nation that the Croatians tend to do well against. Croatia finished June beating France for the first time ever, 1-0 away! Croatia will take this victory with a lot of confidence that should allow Croatia to dream realistically about winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Croatia were outplayed by France and did win on dubious circumstances where Croatia got a penalty kick call that probably should have not happened, while France did not on a foul that probably should have led to a penalty kick. Nonetheless, Croatia finally won against the only nation in the world that seems to allude them, minus three South American teams, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, one African team, Tunisia, and one European team, Portugal. Croatia now sits in 2nd Place with 7 Points in Group 1, behind Denmark (9), and in front of Austria (4) and France (2). Croatia will expect to close out September by winning Group 1. Croatia’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Group is Group E, with Belgium, Morocco, and Canada. Croatia currently looks like the dual favorites with Belgium, and pending September results, will be expected to advance to the knockout rounds, possibly as the Group Winner. The best news for Croatia is that they beat France. All of the other teams they either know they can beat, or should beat, minus Brazil. Brazil is the only country left that Croatia may have psychological troubles with, but the others Croatia has yet to beat are merely just inconvenient truths than anything else.

Spain: Spain continues to look very solid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Their June consisted of matches in the UEFA Nations League A Group 2. The only glaring issue that Spain keeps showing is their inability to close out wins. This issue showed up in their first match in which they dominated Portugal at home, outshooting Portugal 11 (2) to 7 (2) and holding 61% of the possession, as well as having been up 1-0 from the 25th Minute on. But, Portugal scored in the 82nd Minute, and the match finished 1-1. The Spaniards next match saw the Spanish dominate once again, with 80% possession and a shot count of 13 (5) to 3 (2), but Spain had to come back twice away to the Czech Republic with goals in the 45th Minute +3, and in the 90th Minute. This match showed that Spain is beatable, but their mentality to not lose keeps them always with touching distance of a draw if down. Still, for the domination on the ball and in shots, Spain should have won, and but at least 2 goals. Spain’s next match was a 1-0 win over Switzerland away, in match which Spain scored early in the 13th Minute. Spain held 66% possession, and outshot Switzerland barely 7 (3) to 7 (1). This was a good win for Spain because Switzerland is always so consistently difficult to beat. Spain’s final match this June was a comfortable 2-0 win at home over the Czech Republic, with goals coming in the 24th Minute and 75th Minute, with 76% of the possession and a shot count of 9 (4) to 7 (2). This was Spain’s most complete match of June, a solid victory. Spain leads Group 2 with 8 Points, followed by Portugal with 7 Points, the Czech Republic with 4 Points, and Switzerland with 3 Points. Spain will be playing in Group E at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Germany, Japan, and Costa Rica. Spain is a favorite to advance from this Group with Germany, but I think Spain has to be extra careful in their opening match with Costa Rica. Spain tends to have close matches with teams from the Americas, partly because most of those countries have a history of their country, or at least part of their country being under Spain. It serves as an extra motivator, as a rivalry or derby.

Serbia: Serbia had a mixed bag of a June, starting off losing to Norway 0-1 with Norway’s Erling Haaland scoring the match winning goal. Serbia dominated the match, with 13 (5) shots to Norway’s 4 (2) shots, and Serbia held 67% possession at home. But, Erling Haaland is arguable the best striker in the world, a proposition Serbia will not have to face most likely at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and thus Serbia really had to score to get anything from this match and did not. In Serbia’s next match, Serbia made sure to score this time scoring 4 goals and defeating Slovenia 4-1 at home, with 61% possession and 17 (7) shots to 7 (2) shots. This was a World Cup Semi-finalist level display, and not that Serbia is expecting to get that far, but it really was. Serbia does have the talent to win the World Cup, but it definitely is not an expectation for them too. They also have never really been able to put these matches together in the World Cup, not as Serbia, and not under Serbia and Montenegro or Yugoslavia minus a few exceptions here and there. Serbia then went away to Sweden and got a 1-0 win, followed by a 2-2 draw away against Slovenia. Serbia led the shots on target category against Sweden 4-1, and had 56% of the possession, while against Slovenia, Serbia dominated the shots statistics 14 (6) to 7 (5) and the possession 58% to 42%. Serbia finished 2-1-1 in June, and now sits in 2nd Place in UEFA Nations League B Group 4 with 7 Points, behind Norway (10), and ahead of Sweden (3) and Slovenia (2). Serbia will play in Group G at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Brazil, Switzerland, and Cameroon. After the June Window, Serbia appear as the clear favorites for the #2 spot in Group G after Brazil, and in front of Switzerland and Cameroon.

England: England had a bad June Window, finishing 0-2-2. England lost to Hungary away, 0-1, with the Hungarians dominated the shots on target 6-4, but England holding the most possession with 58% and shooting the most in total 12-11. This match was seen as an upset, but what was worrying is how Hungary held in tight with England in every category or bested them. England’s next match was a 1-1 away draw with archenemies Germany, a match in which England dominated the shots 15 (6) to 10 (6), but Germany dominated the possession 63% to 37%. It appeared England was back because an away draw against Germany is always considered quite good. England’s next match was a 0-0 home draw against defending European Champions, Italy, where England out shot (12 (4) to 8 (3)) and out possessed (60% to 40%) the Italians. England should have won this match, but did not. England finished out June with a 0-4 loss to Hungary at home, their worst loss since 1928, and a match in which England actually dominated the shots and possession at 10 (2) to 6 (5) and 69% to 31%. This form England is on is the worst type of form for England, because it is a style of play that will eliminate them in the Group Stage at the World Cup. England appears to be able to dominate, but still lose or draw due to inefficiency, and furthermore, are not able to beat the lower tiers of World Cup quality opposition, while being able to play out draws against the top tiers of World Cup quality. England will play in Group B in the 2022 FIFA World Cup against former British Colony the USA, against fellow British Constituent Country Wales, and against IR Iran. England is still probably considered the favorite to win Group B, but their June window would have gotten them eliminated.

Switzerland: Switzerland started off June with a dominating performance against the Czech Republic on the stat sheet with 63% possession to the Czechs 37%, and with 15 (7) shots to the Czechs 8 (3) shots, but the Czechs won 2-1 at home. Switzerland lost a match they should have won, and this plagued the Swiss into their next match away to Portugal where Portugal won 4-0, with 18 (10) shots to 5 (1), and with 55% possession to 45%. Switzerland then lost 0-1 at home to Spain, with Spain dominating the possession 66% to 34%, and slightly ahead on the shot count at 7 (3) to 7 (1). The Swiss’s last match was a 1-0 home win over Portugal which Portugal actually dominated with 20 (8) shots to 5 (2) and with 58% possession. Switzerland sits 1-0-3 with 3 Points in UEFA Nations League A Group 2 in last place, behind the Czech Republic (4), Spain (7), and Portugal (8). The Switzerland June Window taught the Swiss that they can still beat the big name teams, but that they struggle against the lower teams. Switzerland will play in Group G at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Brazil, Serbia, and Cameroon. Judging based off of June, Switzerland will probably finished 3rd in Group G.

Netherlands: The Netherlands were spectacular in June going 3-1-0 to top Group 4 of the UEFA Nations League A thus far. The Netherlands dominated Belgium 4-0 in an away match followed by a 2-1 late win away in Wales, and a 2-2 draw at home against Poland. In this final match of June, the Netherlands again scored a last minute goal to defeat Wales at home 3-2. The Netherlands will play in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Qatar, Senegal, and Ecuador, all matches the Netherlands should win, especially after this June Window. The Netherlands sits in first in Group 4 with 10 Points, followed by Belgium (7), Poland (4), and Wales (1). The Netherlands are a very complete team and are supplemented from a very good domestic league.

Portugal: Portugal had a mix bag June, starting off with an away draw to Iberian rivals, Spain, 1-1 in a match which the Spanish mostly dominated. The next match was a 4-0 home win over Switzerland in a very dominating performance for the Portuguese, followed by a 2-0 home win over the Czech Republic in which Portugal again dominated in shots in possession. Portugal’s final match however, was a let down, a Portugal lost away to Switzerland 0-1, with Portugal having the better statistics. Portugal sits in 2nd with 7 Points behind Spain with 10 Points, and in front of the Czech Republic with 4 Points and Switzerland with 3 Points. Portugal will play in Group H at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea. Portugal and Uruguay are the two clear favorites to advance, while Ghana and South Korea both seem quite a ways a way to advance. After June, this expectation looks to be even more true.

Poland: Poland was a side that needed to show elite play to convince critics they were a favorite to advance out of Group C at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Argentina, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Luckily for Poland, both Mexico and Saudi Arabia did not look great in their June Windows, leaving many people to place Poland as the new #2 team in Group C. However, Poland also looked bad, and thus, no one really knows what to make out of the bottom 3 teams in the Group. Poland opened up UEFA Nations League A Group 4 with a 2-1 home win over Wales, having outshot 15 (3) to 14 (2) and out possessed 56% to 44% the Welsh. But, Poland then would lose 1-6 to Belgium away, where Belgium held 66% possession and had 18 (11) shots to Poland’s 6 (2). This signaled two things. One, Poland can be World Cup quality opposition, but two, Poland can lose big to elite nations. But, the other two nations in Group C both showed these same capabilities in June. Poland then did very well to draw 2-2 away against the Netherlands, a match in which the Polish were up by 2 goals. In their final match, the Polish lost to the Belgians at home, 0-1. Poland appears to have improved throughout June, but not enough to really solidify the expectation to finish #2, especially with how consistent Mexico tends to be in World Cup Group Stage play.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Germany
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Spain
  • Serbia
  • England
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Poland
  • Wales

Asia (AFC):

Qatar (Hosts): Qatar did not play any matches in the June Window, a strategy not very smart for any side, let alone one which relies on continuity, familiarity, and chemistry within the team for success. Qatar will play in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against the Netherlands, Senegal, and Ecuador. Qatar appears good enough to defeat the latter two, but are not expected to. Qatar is expected to finish last in Group A.

IR Iran: IR Iran was supposed to play Canada in a friendly, but it got canceled. Therefore, IR Iran only played one match in June and that was against Algeria. Algeria won this match 2-1 in neutral Qatar. IR Iran will play in Group B at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against England, the USA, and Wales. While Wales and England both did not play particularly well in June, IR Iran are still expected to finish last in this Group, especially after their lack of display in June. Algeria is a good team, but a non-World Cup and friendly Algeria not as much.

South Korea: South Korea had a good and bad showing in the June Window, as South Korea hosted 4 friendlies in South Korea against three South American nations and one African nation. All nations were World Cup quality, but only one of the four Qualified. South Korea would play Brazil first, but lose 1-5. Brazil dominated the shot count 25 (9) to 7 (6) and the possession with 60% to 40%. This loss to Brazil signaled that either Brazil is that good, or that South Korea is not capable of playing the big name nations right now. Either way, it was an eye opener for a well-respected nation in soccer. South Korea would win their next match over Chile 2-0 with 11 (3) shots to 7 (1) and with 52% possession. South Korea’s win over Chile and domination of the stats sheet show that South Korea is capable of comfortable wins over non-elite teams at the World Cup. South Korea’s next match was a 2-2 draw against Paraguay. South Korea dominated the possession with 62% and the shot count 11 (2) to 7 (2), but found themselves having to comeback down by 2 goals, scoring the equalizer in the 90th Minute +3. This match displayed that South Korea has the fight to comeback in matches, signaling that South Korea will be a tough nation to beat. South Korea closed out June with a 4-1 win over Egypt, with 69% possession and 10 (5) shots to 7 (1). South Korea’s obliteration of Egypt displayed that South Korea can dominate the lower tier nations in the World Cup, boosting their chances of advancement with good goal differentials. South Korea will compete in the 2022 EAFF E-1 Football Championship in Japan in July next. At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, South Korea is in Group H with Portugal, Uruguay, and Ghana. South Korea is favored to finish #3 in Group H.

Japan: Japan had a very good June Window until their last match. Japan played in two friendly tournaments put together by the Japan Football Association and Kirin Brewing Company located in Japan. Japan’s first two matches were in the Kirin Challenge Cup and second two matches were in the Kirin Cup Soccer. Japan’s National Soccer Team won their first match 4-1 over Paraguay in dominating fashion, with 28 (10) shots to 10 (4), and with 61% possession. This was a display of a World Cup Champion. But, that feeling would quickly evaporate as Japan lost to Brazil 0-1 in the Kirin Challenge Cup Final, with Brazil dominating Japan in every category, such as shots 21 (5) to 7 (0) and possession at 53%. Then, Japan went onto to play Ghana and dominated them 4-1, with 15 (5) shots to 5 (1), and with 61% possession. Japan followed this up in the Kirin Cup Soccer Final and lost, 0-3 to Tunisia, in a match where Japan dominated the possession with 68%, but Tunisia were far more efficient on shooting with 4 shots on target from 8, while Japan had 0 shots on target from 8. Japan’s first three matches suggested Japan would have a high possibility of getting out of their World Cup Group, but after the defeat to Tunisia, experts will not be as high on Japan. Japan plays in Group E at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Spain, Germany, and Costa Rica. Japan needs more practice against elite opposition to give them a chance against Spain and Germany, while Costa Rica is a task Japan know they can win. Japan plays in the 2022 EAFF E-1 Football Championship in Japan in July next.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia had a bad June, but only because of their second match, and that is pending how good that opposition may become this next year. Saudi Arabia played Colombia in Murcia, Spain in their first match in June, losing 0-1, but having dominated possession 52% to 48%, and being outshot 5 (3) to 12 (7). Saudi Arabia probably should have lost 0-2, but nonetheless, showed the ability to play with what many would consider to be an elite team or close to elite team, despite having not Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Saudi Arabia’s next match, also in Murcia, Spain, however, was against a nation that is not considered elite by anyone, a nation that as a World Cup side, you should expect to beat. This side was Venezuela, and Venezuela won 1-0, outshooting KSA 13 (7) to 7 (2), while Saudi Arabia did win the possession battle with 59%. Saudi Arabia needs to get much better between now and the 2022 FIFA World Cup if they want to have any chance of advancing past the Group Stage, because a loss to Venezuela where it should have been a worse scoreline is not acceptable. However, Venezuela sometimes goes through eras where they are really good, and maybe this is one of them and we are being too harsh on KSA. Saudi Arabia will be playing in Group C with Argentina, Mexico, and Poland, and after this June, are expected to finish last in Group C.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Qatar
  • IR Iran
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Australia

Africa (CAF):

Ghana: Ghana competed in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage in Group E, and defeated Madagascar 3-0 at home in a dominating display, with 23 (5) shots to 5 (2), and with 69% possession. However, Ghana’s next match saw Ghana draw 1-1 away against the Central African Republic, despite controlling 72% of the possession, as both nations have a very even shot count. Ghana finished the second round of matches in first with 4 Points, followed by Angola with 4 Points, the Central African Republic with 1 Point, and Madagascar with 1 Point. Ghana then competed in the Kirin Cup Soccer, losing to Japan 1-4 in dominating Japanese display, but then played Chile, and would go down to 9 men, but despite this, Ghana kept playing taking Chile into penalty kick shootouts which Ghana won 3-1. Despite Ghana being down to 9 men, Ghana actually coped well with 10 (4) shots compared to Chile’s 11 (1) shots, and with 44% possession. Ghana will play in Group H at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Portugal, Uruguay, and South Korea, will Ghana will be expected to finish last in the Group. And, their thumping loss to Japan and inexplicable draw to the Central African Republic makes Ghana look bad. But, Ghana still is putting up good fights such as against Madagascar and Chile.

Senegal: Senegal had a not very impressive June. Senegal played Benin in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage winning 3-1 at home, with 61% possession and 24 (10) shots to 6 (2). Sadio Mané scored all these goals. Then, away against Rwanda, Senegal barely won 1-0 with a 90th Minute +8 Penalty Kick goal from Sadio Mané. Senegal is currently first in 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage Group L with 6 Points, followed by Mozambique (4), Rwanda (1), and Benin (0). The dependency on Sadio Mané makes Senegal more vulnerable and their lack of good opposition leaves open the question of how can Senegal win. Senegal will play in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with the Netherlands, Qatar, and Ecuador. As of right now, Senegal is expected to finish #2.

Tunisia: Tunisia is breakout team of the June Window starting off playing in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage Group J. Tunisia opened up defeating Equatorial Guinea at home, with all goals coming in the second half. Tunisia outshot Equatorial Guinea 17 (7) to 3 (1) and out possessed Equatorial Guinea 70% to 30%. Tunisia’s next match was not as impressive as they tied 0-0, away in Botswana. The shot count slightly favored Tunisia (12 (3) to 10 (3)) and the possession also favored Tunisia (58% to 42%), but the scoreline and overall match was even. This was the only blemish on Tunisia’s record for June, as Tunisia would next play in the Kirin Cup Soccer in Japan. Tunisia’s first match in the Semi-finals of the friendly competition, saw Tunisia outplayed by Chile on the stat sheet (15 (4) to 9 (4); 62% to 38%), but Tunisia win 2-0! This was a massive victory for The Carthage Eagles because in the FIFA World Cup, most likely, Tunisia will have to fight against better nations, and will have to be more efficient in order to end up on top on the score board. This type of play will come in handy in Group D at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where Tunisia will play France, Denmark, and Australia. This June Window has made this Group much more even, as Denmark is still doing well, Australia and Tunisia are doing much better, and France is struggling, but they still have the most talent in Group D. Tunisia closed out their June Window with a massive 3-0 victory in the Kirin Cup Soccer Final over Japan. Despite the Japanese holding 68% of the possession, the Tunisians were more efficient once again with their shots, 8 (4) to 8 (0). Tunisia now has gone from the second weakest nation at the World Cup from Africa, to the strongest right now. Tunisia leads Group J for 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers too, with 4 Points, followed by Equatorial Guinea (3), Libya (3), and Botswana (1).

Morocco: Morocco played poorly against their only World Cup opposition in June, losing in a friendly away to the USA, 0-3. However, despite this loss, Morocco’s stats were good with 47% possession and 22 (8) shots to the USA’s 11 (10). Morocco’s loss signaled that Morocco was not as strong as previously thought. Many people expected Morocco to be turning a corner whereby The Atlas Lions would be battling for the Round of 16 in their fierce Group F at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Belgium, Croatia, and Canada, and ironically, they probably will be but more so because of the other nations’ performances in June or their recent performances, not as much because of Morocco’s June performance. Morocco followed up this friendly rather quite well with a 2-1 comeback home win over South Africa scoring the match winning goal in the 89th Minute, and outshooting the South Africans 29 (10) to 5 (1), and holding onto 64% possession. The Moroccans followed up this match with a 2-0 away win over Liberia, played in Morocco as well. The Moroccans only shot 8 (2) times to Liberia’s 4 (0), and held onto 67% of the possession. Morocco’s goals in this match came in the 56th and 57th minutes. Morocco leads Group K at the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage with 6 Points, while South Africa has 0 and so does Liberia. Zimbabwe has been disqualified and were originally the other nation in this Group. Morocco’s performances seemed wasteful and unimpressive mostly, even though they finished 2-0-1 during June. The expectations are higher than 2 minutes of brilliance against Liberia, and comeback wins against South Africa, in Morocco, but nevertheless, South Africa is a respectable side, so that was a good win. Against the USA, Morocco did not play efficient or very good, but they still have time to fix things with a friendly against Colombia in September, scheduled to be played in France.

Cameroon: Cameroon’s June Window was very strange as they only played one match, in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualification Group Stage Group C, against Burundi in Tanzania. The match was considered an away match, and Cameroon dominated Burundi on everything but the scoreboard, with 18 (4) shots to Burundi’s 3 (1) and with 63% possession. However, Cameroon’s inefficiency led to just a 1-0 win for The Indomitable Lions, putting Cameroon temporarily at the top of Group C with 3 points, followed by Burundi with 1 Point, and Namibia with 1 Point. Kenya was disqualified, but were supposed to play in Group C, and were the nation Cameroon was supposed to play first. Cameroon did finish 1-0-0, but it just was not very convincing, and in order to advance out of their very difficult Group G at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they will need efficient attacking against Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland. Currently, Cameroon is expected to finish last in Group G, and this June Window did not change this expectation. Burundi is not a horrible side, and technically, could feature Kevin De Bruyne if he would have chosen Burundi to play for, but he did not, so Burundi should not be this difficult of a side for any World Cup team to beat.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Ghana
  • Senegal
  • Tunisia
  • Morocco
  • Cameroon

North America (CONCACAF):

Canada: The 1 time Olympic Gold Medalists Canadians were expected to do much better in their June Window, but a debacle within the federation between the players and the Canada Soccer Association, meant two friendlies were cancelled against IR Iran and Panama. Canada, therefore, only competed in their CONCACAF Nations League A Group C matches. Canada played Curaçao at home and defeated them 4-0! This was a very good win which saw Canada dominate with 22 (9) shots to 5 (0) and 55% possession to 45%. Curaçao is a very good side in CONCACAF and is often at the level of a very low tier World Cup side, however, lately, Curaçao does appear a bit weaker than this. Still, it was a convincing win for the Canada National Soccer Team. Next match, however, was a 1-2 loss against Honduras, away, in a match with a very tough to play on pitch as Central America and the Caribbean had been experiencing lots of rain making a lot of the pitches very muddy. Canada did out possess Honduras 62% to 38% and did outshoot Honduras 9 (2) to 6 (3), but were less efficient. For Canada, this was a match in which Honduras played like Canada is expected to in the World Cup, which is to rely on the counter-attack and less possession to win matches. Honduras is usually a World Cup quality side, and have been minus their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers where they played very bad. So, in Canada’s defense, they do have the toughest group in the 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League. Nonetheless, Canada should be winning their Group, but sit in 2nd with 3 Points, ahead of Curaçao, also with 3 Points, and behind Honduras with 6 Points. Canada does have match in hand though with Honduras and Curaçao. For Canada, we needed to see more and thus, their cancellation of friendlies, and the fact that no matches are scheduled for September as of now, is very worrying for their preparations. Canada will play in Group F at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against fellow Francophone nations, Belgium, Morocco, and Croatia (technically, but not really anymore). This Group appeared wide open, but after June, Belgium and Croatia are once again expected to the top the Group, and mostly because Morocco and Canada did not play as well as expected. In Canada’s defense though, playing away against most Central American opposition, especially in these conditions is almost an impossible task, and so if Canada would have tied or won, this June Window outside of the friendly cancellations would be seen as a success.

USA: The USA played very well in their June Window, opening up with friendlies against Morocco and Uruguay, both World Cup teams with high quality talent. The USA defeated Morocco at home, 3-0, playing very efficiently and accurately having 10 shots on target from 11 total shots, verse Morocco’s 8 shots on target from 22 total shots. The USA also held the possession at 53%. The USA followed up this 3-0 win with a 0-0 home draw against Uruguay, a team on fire that has not lost in 2022, and a team with superior talent to most nations right now. The USA dominated possession with 54%, and had 9 (3) shots to Uruguay’s 12 (4). The match could have gone either way, but USA’s Sean Johnson played very well at goalkeeper, a position that appears to be an issue for the Americans for the first time in quite a while heading into a World Cup. The USA’s next matches were in the CONCACAF Nations League A Group D. The USA played Grenada at home in match which the USA was expected to win by a lot, but only won 5-0. This was a slight disappointment for the Americans, but still, 5-0 over any side, especially one at this level in CONCACAF is impressive. The USA had 25 (10) shots to 3 (0) and 68% possession to 32%. The USA needs to be more efficient to safely advance out of their World Cup Group. The USA’s next match was a difficult one at one of the hardest national team stadiums to play at in the world, the Estadio Cuscatlán in El Salvador. Due to Central America’s and the Caribbean’s extreme rain during that week, USA and El Salvador played on a very rough and muddy pitch, and the Salvadorans did not make life any easier for the Americans with a very rough match, ending with both sides getting a red card. El Salvador went up first, 1-0, due to great awareness to take a shot outside the box on the wing while USA’s goalkeeper, Ethan Horvath, was out of position. However, the USA kept pushing back and in the 90th Minute +1, Jordan Morris scored to level the match up at 1-1. While it was disappointing for the Americans not to win, a draw away to El Salvador is usually a good result given how hard it is to play there, and given how good El Salvador usually is, like right now. The USA currently sit in 2nd place with 4 Points behind El Salvador with 5 Points and in front of Grenada with 1 Point. The USA has a match in hand with both of these sides. The USA will play in Group B at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, against England, Wales, and IR Iran. All of these matches resembled these matches, as Uruguay and England are relatively at the same level, Wales and IR Iran and Morocco are all supposed to be at the same level, and a match away to El Salvador is supposed to simulate the physical and defensive play of El Salvador. With the June window, the USA leaves it with very good experienced gained, and a 2-2-0 record, but one they can improve upon, as against Uruguay and El Salvador, the USA could have won with more chances converted. If the USA can improve, or simply find a better in form striker, and maybe they did with Jordan Morris who has been mostly playing well in wing, the USA will be plenty prepared to win all 3 matches in Group B. As it is, this June Window suggests a 1-2-0 (5 points) finish for the USA, and a top spot in Group B, given how poorly England played, as well as Wales and IR Iran. The USA is trying to schedule some more matches for September against World Cup quality opposition to continue to fine tune their team in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Mexico: Mexico played poorly in their June Window, especially for what is supposed to be a Top 10 nation, and a Round of 16 nation. Mexico lost to Uruguay in a friendly in the USA, 0-3, but actually had better or nearly equal stats with 10 (2) shots to Uruguay’s 10 (4) shots, and with 51% possession to Uruguay’s 49% possession. Then, Mexico played Ecuador in a friendly in the USA, and tied 0-0 with 9 (2) shots to Ecuador’s 9 (1) shots, and with 52% possession to Ecuador’s 48% possession. These were Mexico’s two June matches against World Cup opposition, and it appears Mexico is very inefficient right now. Mexico actually played well in terms of stats. Mexico’s next two matches were in the CONCACAF Nations League A Group A. Group A is actually quite tough and features 3 World Cup level nations when two of these nations feature their best players (they usually do not). These two nations are Jamaica and Suriname who would be quality sides if their best players via Jamaican and Surinamese birth, plus diaspora, always came to play. Recently, Suriname and Jamaica have been seeing a lot of these players come, and in the June Window, Suriname and Jamaica both featured a lot of these players. Mexico would play at home against Suriname defeating them 3-0, having dominated the match with 22 (9) shots to 6 (2), and 59% possession. Mexico then played Jamaica away in very tough conditions with due to the heavy rains experienced in the Caribbean and Central America that week. Mexico went down early from a goal from Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey in the 4th Minute, but in the 45th Minute +3, Mexico scored from CF Monterrey’s Luis Romo. Mexico dominated the match with 18 (7) shots to Jamaica’s 8 (3), and had 63% possession. However, in efficiency plagued Mexico and Mexico would only draw 1-1. Mexico sits in 2nd in Group A with 4 Points, behind Jamaica (5), and in front of Suriname (1). Mexico has a match in hand with both Jamaica and Suriname. While it is true Jamaica tends to be very good, Jamaica did just come off of a 0-6 loss away to Catalonia, a non-FIFA member, but a really good one nonetheless. This happened in May, but it is tough to tell if that is representative of Jamaica, or really one just to write off like Brazil’s 1-7 loss to Germany. Overall, Mexico’s performance was not a confidence builder. Mexico will play in Paraguay next at the end of August in the USA, but surely, more matches are needed for this Mexican side to play in to their Top 10 level form. Mexico will play in Group C at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, against archenemies (along with USA) Argentina, Poland, and Saudi Arabia. Given the other nations results, ironically, Mexico probably played well enough to finish 1-1-1 (4 Points) and might have done enough to advance. They also should have gone 3-0-1 in June Window and if that had happened, or even just 2-1-1 instead of 1-2-1, I think Mexico would have played an equivalent to a 2-0-1 record given their Group. Mexico is therefore still probably the expected #2 team, but it is more because of how bad the other nations did in the June Window, than how good Mexico did. Mexico has a lot to improve upon and needs more matches, because this was poor play and they still look like a Round of 16 team given the contexts. Imagine if they improve, how good they can look creating more confidence to go further.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Canada
  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica

South America (CONMEBOL):

Brazil: Brazil played two friendlies over the June Window in Asia, against South Korea in South Korea, and against Japan in a friendly tournament called the Kirin Cup Challenge in Japan. Brazil defeated South Korea 5-1 in dominant fashion with 25 (9) shots to South Korea’s 9 (6) and with 60% possession. Against Japan, Brazil only won 1-0 with only 53% possession, but still dominated the shot count 21 (5) to 7 (0). Brazil’s two matches in June show that Brazil is truly the #1 team in the world right now, but also that they can improve. While Japan and South Korea are both good nations, Brazil gave up too many shots against them in both matches for how good Brazil is. Furthermore, Brazil should have controlled the Japan match more, as they only held 53% possession, and only scored 1 goal from a penalty kick in the 77th Minute. Therefore, Brazil needs to be more efficient, and better with passing having only completed 454 passes. Brazil, however, did take home a friendly trophy, the Kirin Cup Challenge. Brazil will play in Group G at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon. Brazil’s form of having won 5 and drawn 1 in 2022 suggest Brazil will win all of these matches in Group G, and Brazil is expected to win Group G and advance! Brazil is also predicted to be the favorite to win the World Cup, and with extra friendlies/sort of World Cup Qualifiers coming up in September against Argentina and IR Iran, a continuation in this form will only improve Brazilian confidence. Brazil just needs to warn against complacency.

Argentina: Argentina continued their spectacular form defeating Italy 3-0 in the 2022 Finalissima or CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions in neutral England at Wembley Stadium. This was a one-off match between the current South American Champions and current European Champions. Argentina’s dominance in the match with 56% possession and dominating the shooting 17 (10) to 7 (3) suggests that Argentina may be back to an attacking juggernaut at the elite level, and a very good defensive team. This was an official trophy and cup competition, a super cup like event too, so it was a good competitive match for the Argentinians. Argentina shoed a diversity in goal scorers too, with Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martínez scoring in the 28th Minute, PSG’s Ángel Di María scoring in the 45th Minute +1, and Juventus’s Paolo Dybala scoring in the 90th Minute +1. This is very good news for Argentina who in the past, has depending on Lionel Messi too much to score, even with the rest of the side they had that was often loaded with talent. However, in the next match, PSG’s Lionel Messi displayed that he could still put Argentina’s team on his back scoring 5 goals against Estonia in a 5-0 friendly victory in neutral Spain with 24 (10) shots to 4 (2) and with 79% possession. Oddly enough, despite Estonia being one of the worst sides in UEFA, Estonia had a good June Window in their UEFA Nations League D Group 2, with a 2-0 home win over San Marino and a 2-1 away victory over Malta, plus a 0-0 friendly draw against Albania. So, Argentina’s 5-0 win over Estonia should not be taken as the reason Argentina is the #2 favorite according to many experts to win the World Cup, rather that should be Argentina’s 3-0 win over Italy and 5-1-0 form in 2022, but it should not be completely overlooked. Still, Argentina needs more quality matches and as of now, has their technically rescheduled FIFA World Cup Qualification match against Brazil in September, that sort of acts as a friendly given the strange circumstances. Argentina should probably schedule one more match against high quality opposition before the 2022 World Cup in addition to Brazil. Argentina will play in Group C at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia, all matches Argentina is expected to win. However, Argentina are rivals with Mexico, Poland and Argentina are sort of rivals due to the amount of Polish people in Argentina, and Saudi Arabia borders the host nation and will almost be like secondary hosts. So, while Argentina should win all three matches, it may prove more difficult than expected. Nonetheless, Argentina is expected to win Group C and advance. In addition, Argentina are seen as the #2 favorites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup as of right now, especially given the poor play of other nations most notably in Europe.

Ecuador: Ecuador had a successful June Window, but a little underwhelming too. Ecuador played 3 friendlies against Nigeria, Mexico, and Cape Verde. Nigeria barely missed out on the World Cup due to the antiquated away goals rule against Ghana, while Cape Verde barely was eliminated in the second to last round of Qualifiers by Nigeria, losing out on points 11 to 13 due to Nigeria’s 2-1 comeback win away against Cape Verde earlier in that round’s Group C. Many people may not know that like basketball, Cape Verde is becoming very good in football, and have finished 7th, 11th, and 15th respectively at the 2013, 2015, and 2021 African Cup of Nations. It is true Cape Verde failed to qualify in 2017 and 2019, but before 2013, Cape Verde had never Qualified for the African Cup of Nations. Nigeria does not need any more introductions of course, having been one of Africa’s best and most consistent teams for a long time now. Ecuador’s other opponent was Mexico, who also Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and is historically North America’s best nation, and despite a recent poor form, is still a top team in North America. Ecuador played all of these matches in neutral USA. Ecuador won their first match against Nigeria, 1-0, in a very even match with Ecuador having 51% possession and 12 (5) shots to Nigeria’s 14 (4). Ecuador went up in the 4th Minute and held onto the led the whole match, a very impressive feat against quality opposition in Nigeria. Ecuador’s next match was a 0-0 draw against Mexico that was also very even, with both having 9 shots, but Mexico having 2 on target verse Ecuador’s 1 on target, and Mexico having 52% possession. Ecuador’s last match in June against Cape Verde saw Ecuador win 1-0 via a penalty kick goal in the 38th Minute. Ecuador was not efficient enough in this match, having 16 (7) shots to Cape Verde’s 3 (1) shots, and holding 61% possession. While this match was Ecuador’s best, it should have been and Ecuador should have won by more. Ecuador will play in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against the Netherlands, Senegal, and Qatar. Most people expect the Netherlands to finish #1, and Senegal to finish #2, however, most people expect this #2 position to be tightly contested. After June’s window, now, it is even expected to be more tightly contested leaving many to believe there is no clear #2 in Group A. Ecuador was smart too, because each match simulated one of their matches in Group A, with Nigeria simulating Senegal and Qatar (mostly Senegal), Cape Verde simulating Senegal and Qatar (mostly Qatar), and Mexico simulating both the Netherlands in terms of skill, and Qatar in terms of atmosphere. Mexico has immense home support in the USA and effectively acts as a host nation. However, Nigeria is not quite as good as Senegal, and maybe not even as good as Qatar, and neither is Cape Verde, and then Mexico is not quite as good as the Netherlands right now. With these results in June, Ecuador probably would have gone 2-0-1 in Group A and advanced as the #2 team. Ecuador still needs more practice though and Ecuador is the type of team that plays well against elite opposition, so more elite opponents would be best for Ecuador prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Uruguay: Uruguay is on unbelievable form having gone 6-1-0 in 2022! Outside of Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is the third hottest team right now in national team football. Uruguay played 3 friendly matches in June, all against North American opposition. Uruguay’s first match was a 3-0 win against Mexico in neutral USA, although it is not really that neutral to play Mexico in the USA because Mexico has lots of fans there. Uruguay did not dominate this match in stats though with the shot count 10 (4) to 10 (2) in favor of Uruguay, but the possession 51% to 49% in favor of Mexico. Uruguay still won though due to their attacking efficiency. In their next match away against the USA, the Uruguayans settled for their first and only non-win of 2022 thus far, a 0-0 draw, where the teams were very equal to one another, with Uruguay dominating the shot count 12 (4) to 9 (3), but the USA dominating possession 54% to 46%. Given that Uruguay is sort of the Atlético Madrid of national teams except Uruguay scores a lot, this lack of possession and shooting advantage is not too much of a worry, rather the results really do matter most even when analyzing stats. Uruguay’s last match of June was a 5-0 win over Panama, a match in which Uruguay outshot Panama 20 (6) to 7 (1) and out possessed Panama 66% to 34%. This match was a very good win for Uruguay because they beat Panama better than how they should have, resembling a 2018 England, heck, a 2018 Uruguay. However, this was Panama’s effective B team, hence the poor display like in the 2018 World Cup when Panama faced many injuries. Still, Uruguay’s recent form and June Window suggests a 2-1-0 (7 Points) Group Stage record. Uruguay will play in Group H at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Portugal, South Korea, and Ghana, and will be expected to finish #1 or #2 with Portugal and advance to the knockout rounds. Uruguay did not even have their best player through this June Window as Atlético Madrid’s Luis Suárez did not play with Uruguay in June. Group H is expected to come down to goal differential, and it appears Uruguay has their shooting boots on even without their best striker and player. But, Portugal is a scoring juggernaut too, so Group H will be difficult and most likely will come down to a rematch of the 2018 Round of 16 match between Portugal and Uruguay to see who wins Group H. Uruguay won this match 2-1.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Ecuador
  • Uruguay

Oceania (OFC):

No teams had previously Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup prior to the Inter-confederation Playoffs so this section is left blanked.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • No OFC Teams Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Final European Club Rankings Top 50

  1. Real Madrid (L, DSC, CL) (Spain)
  2. Manchester City (L) (England)
  3. Liverpool (DC, LC) (England)
  4. Chelsea (CWC, CSC) (England)
  5. Bayern Munich (L, DSC) (Germany)
  6. AC Milan (L) (Italy)
  7. PSG (L) (France)
  8. Inter Milan (DC, DSC) (Italy)
  9. FC Porto (L, DC) (Portugal)
  10. Ajax (L) (Netherlands)
  11. Red Bull Salzburg (L, DC) (Austria)
  12. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  13. RB Leipzig (DC) (Germany)
  14. Villarreal (Spain)
  15. SC Portugal (LC, DSC) (Portugal)
  16. Atlético Madrid (Spain)
  17. Real Betis (DC) (Spain)
  18. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  19. Eintracht Frankfurt (EL) (Germany)
  20. FC Barcelona (Spain)
  21. Leicester City (DSC) (England)
  22. Sevilla (Spain)
  23. Napoli (Italy)
  24. PSV Eindhoven (DC, DSC) (Netherlands)
  25. SL Benfica (Portugal)
  26. Juventus (Italy)
  27. SC Freiburg (Germany)
  28. Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
  29. AS Roma (CnL) (Italy)
  30. Real Sociedad (Spain)
  31. Manchester United (England)
  32. West Ham United (England)
  33. Feyenoord Rotterdam (Netherlands)
  34. Arsenal (England)
  35. Lille OSC (DSC) (France)
  36. Olympique de Marseille (France)
  37. AS Monaco (France)
  38. FC Nantes (DC) (France)
  39. SS Lazio (Italy)
  40. ASC Fiorentina (Italy)
  41. FC Union Berlin (Germany)
  42. Brighton & Hove Albion (England)
  43. Celtic FC (L, LC) (Scotland)
  44. OCG Nice (France)
  45. Wolverhampton Wanderers (England)
  46. Stade Rennais (France)
  47. Rangers FC (DC) (Scotland)
  48. FC Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova)
  49. SC Braga (Portugal)
  50. GNK Dinamo Zagreb (L) (Croatia)
  1. L = Domestic League
  2. DC = Domestic Cup
  3. LC = Domestic League Cup
  4. DSC = Domestic Super Cup
  5. CL = UEFA Champions League
  6. CSC = UEFA Super Cup
  7. CWC = FIFA Club World Cup
  8. EL = UEFA Europa League
  9. CnL = UEFA Conference League

Top 10 Leagues:

  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Italy
  5. France
  6. Portugal
  7. Netherlands
  8. Belgium
  9. Ukraine
  10. Turkey

Republicans and Democrats are both Right and Wrong on Mass Shootings

Democrats constantly love to preach about how Republicans take blood money from the NRA to not protect children at schools from school shootings over the Republicans’ decisions to not vote for gun control legislation and increasing background checks.

And, to be honest, they are correct to an extent on this. Republicans could easily support more background checks and there are a lot of policies that could help fix this issue such as Red Flag laws and other forms of restrictions that would take legal guns out of the hands of people suspected to be mentally unstable and willing to commit a crime such as mass shootings. This would make it harder for these crazy people to commit these types of crimes.

But, Democrats are also wrong when they pretend that more security at schools does not help, including armed security. The Democrats have almost been celebrating the idea that armed police and security protocols did not work at the school in Uvalde, while failing to mention how the armed police did not do their jobs, and the security protocols were not followed, and how the killer was eventually stopped by armed law enforcement! If anything, just like after the political assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the attempt on President Ronald Reagan, we need to improve this form security and not lessen it, because it was not the security that did not work, rather it was people supposed to implement it. The logic by some Democrats would be to get rid of the Secret Service for an assassination because it does not work, instead of improving it so it does, especially how just like with armed guards, it usually works every time!

If Red Flag laws had been in effect, and if the armed police had done their job, or had better weapons, training, and funding, and had the security protocols been put in place, or just one of these, the killer would have not been able to kill countless children and two teachers, as the killer would not have been able to have a gun legally, the killer would have been stopped before entering the school, and the killer would have not been able to enter the school.

The truth is, we need to make it harder for bad people to possess guns, meaning we need more intelligence on our citizens and more confidential informing to police, schools, human and mental health resource officers, and more communication among the system as a whole. If the FBI is coming to check you out, you should not be able to own a weapon or at the very least, just like stadiums have facial recognition so that they can prepare for a potential act of violence by suspected terrorists or other potential criminals, they can stop them before they come into our schools, malls, and churches.

But, Democrats have to be willing to allow disproportions to exist if we are to do this. There might be a disproportion in the people affected by this on minority or religious backgrounds, and if the Democrats are serious, they will put the kids in front of identity politics.

Arizona released a very good plan back in 2018 that would seek to “allow law enforcement, family members, school administrators, teachers, resident advisors[,] and behavioral and mental health professionals to petition the court for a STOP order, which prohibit[s] an individual who is a danger to themselves or others from purchasing a weapon.” The process would ensure the second amendment rights of Arizonans by “ensuring due process prior to an order going into effect.” Arizona’s STOP would also “include measures to ensure a person under a STOP order does not have access to a firearm.”

With this plan, Arizona hoped to achieve:

  1. “Increased mental and behavioral health resources at schools”
  2. “Restricting access to firearms for individuals who pose a severe
    threat to themselves or others, while respecting the second
    amendment rights of law-abiding Arizonans”
  3. “Increased school resource officer and law enforcement presence at schools”
  4. “Enhanced background checks”

In order to achieve these goals, Arizona’s plan would include:

  1. “Invest[ing] in mental and behavioral health resources at schools”
  2. “Severe Threat Order of Protection (STOP) to restrict firearm access for individuals who are a danger to themselves or others”
  3. “Enhance[d] background checks by improving the completeness and accuracy of the criminal history database”
  4. “Establish[ing] the Center for School Safety, creating a confidential centralized reporting tip line to report and investigate concerns of school safety”
  5. “Increase[d] school resource officer funding and training and increases the presence of law enforcement on school grounds”
  6. “Eliminat[ing] background check gaps”
  7. “Respect[ing] the second amendment rights of law-abiding Arizonans”

But, likewise, we need more security and armed guards at schools and other soft target places where many people attend because no matter how many background checks and gun restrictions there are, none of them will protect against the criminal who never shows up on the radar or buys or modifies their weapons illegally, if there is no armed guards! You cannot protect against the unknown unless you have weapons and elite training too.

Democrats have often advocated for less police in schools and elsewhere which has risen crime across the country, making the nation more dangerous. Unfortunately, Democrats often care more about representation than safety, and are too concerned that more policing will disproportionately hurt minority communities, when in reality, decreasing policing makes these areas more dangerous. In fact, increasing policing, especially at schools really helps, as do security measures.

Security needs to be multilayered and militarized as well. There are plenty of helpful policies, but the most useful ones include secure entry and exit facilities and only minimal amount of these, some even suggesting only one, with students and parents, as well as teachers and other workers needing IDs to get in, in addition to there being locked and buzzed-in doors, security cameras, and often times, gates all around. Now, the gates all around is not necessarily needed, and nor are all these others, but the fact is that there needs to be some sort of physical barrier to access the classrooms, if you do not want it around the school fully. Then, there needs to be armed security, including secret police focused on violent crime. And possibly, medal detectors and other forms of detecting any weapons on you, such as police patrols that would constantly patrol the campus, mall, church, and other places of soft target gatherings to make sure there are no unsafe bags, packages, belongings, etcetera.

Opponents fear this makes our schools into prisons, but I doubt this will be the case, and even more doubt that people would prefer their current vulnerable position to an increased secured position.

And, this can be done in shopping malls, movie theaters, and other places as well, including in Churches. Private security and Public security can provide this depending on the context.

When we look at Gun Free Zones, we still see shootings. Thus, we need a realistic way to combat mass shootings, and not improving our armed security at schools, and our whole security apparatus at that will hurt us even more.

Democrats need to give up the dream of there being no law enforcement to protect civilians from criminals in the fantasy that making something illegal makes it go away, but Republicans need to also give up the dream that libertarianism in terms of gun ownership does not lead to more dangerous people having more dangerous guns. We need more armed security and more restrictions on who can have guns if we are to win this war on our safety. But make no mistake about it, it is not 50 [Republican] Senators in Washington, D.C. delaying action on protecting our kids, rather, it is all 100 because both political parties fail in addressing safety, and ironically, it is the Democrats who fail more because their plan leaves the children still vulnerable to those who possess firearms illegally, whereas the Republicans’ plan protects children and others regardless of how the firearms were obtained. And, a mixture of both plans would be best!

Top 32 Clubs for Week of 23 May:

  1. Real Madrid (Spain)
  2. Manchester City (England)
  3. Liverpool (England)
  4. Chelsea (England)
  5. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  6. AC Milan (Italy)
  7. PSG (France)
  8. Inter Milan (Italy)
  9. FC Porto (Portugal)
  10. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  11. Ajax (Netherlands)
  12. RB Leipzig (Germany)
  13. SC Portugal (Portugal)
  14. FC Barcelona (Spain)
  15. Villarreal (Spain)
  16. Napoli (Italy)
  17. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  18. Real Betis (Spain)
  19. Atlético Madrid (Spain)
  20. Juventus (Italy)
  21. Arsenal (England)
  22. AS Roma (Italy)
  23. Sevilla (Spain)
  24. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Germany)
  25. SC Freiburg (Germany)
  26. Leicester City (England)
  27. Palmeiras (Brazil)
  28. PSV (Netherlands)
  29. Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)
  30. West Ham United (England)
  31. FC Union Berlin (Germany)
  32. Manchester United (England)

President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Died Today

The President (Head of State) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Emir (Head of State) of Abu Dhabi, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has died today, 13 May 2022.

During his time as President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi, the UAE and Abu Dhabi became world leaders in everything from business to tourism to entertainment to religion to sports to art to healthcare and even to things such as space exploration.

Since the 1990s, Sheikh Khalifa has ran many of the day to day affairs of the UAE and Abu Dhabi while as the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, but in 2004, after the death of his father HH Sheikh Zayed, Sheikh Khalifa became the President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi formally.

Sheikh Khalifa had a long career in government before this starting off early as the Rulers’ Representative for the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi, now called the Al-Ain Region of Abu Dhabi, in 1966. Sheikh Khalifa was born in Al-Ain in 1948 so he knew the area well.

In 1969, he became the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and would become Head of the Abu Dhabi Department of Defense. During this time, Abu Dhabi was still under the Trucial States, a protectorate of the United Kingdom.

In 1971, the UAE would gain independence with Abu Dhabi (City) becoming the capital of the newly independent state of six emirates, the seventh joining in 1972.

Post 1971 independence, Sheikh Khalifa would hold many titles for both Abu Dhabi (Prime Minister, Head of Cabinet, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Finance) and the UAE (Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Executive Council, Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, Head of the Supreme Petroleum Council now called Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), and the Chairman of the Environmental and Wildlife Development Agency). Eventually, he would become the President of the UAE, Emir of Abu Dhabi, and Commander of the Armed Forces.

He was also the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which is the sovereign wealth fund for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Khalifa banked his governing strategy on fighting Islamic extremism in the region and on opening the UAE up to more liberalization, as well as overseeing greater relations with the USA and NATO, in addition to closer relations with other world powers including Russia and the People’s Republic of China, plus France and the United Kingdom (also NATO members).

The United Arab Emirates became a place where the co-existence of the Abrahamic Faiths are paramount, with the historic concordats and treatise made with Holy See and Israel. It is in these deals where the UAE saw Pope Francis visit in 2019, and where President Trump (USA) and Sheikh Khalifa oversaw a transition among other Arab and Muslim nations including the UAE to recognizing and establishing formal ties with the State of Israel in 2020. This created the project known as the Abrahamic Family House, to be built in Abu Dhabi.

Many people worry if the liberalization and increasing freedoms in the UAE will subside with the death of Sheikh Khalifa, but luckily for the UAE, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been running much of the day to day functions of both the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE since 2014. And thus, these deals that led to greater cooperation with the USA and NATO, Israel, the Holy See, and the greater liberalizations and freedoms that Emiratis have earned will most likely continue with a smooth transition to Sheikh Mohamed as the new President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi. Already, Sheikh Mohamed is formally the Emir of Abu Dhabi, but he is likely to formally become the President of the UAE per tradition of the presidency belonging to Head of State of Abu Dhabi.

As for the present, the current acting president is HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir of Dubai, as he was the Vice President of the UAE.

When Sheikh Zayed died, then Emir of Dubai, HH Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, served as acting president for one day.

Memories Will Live On:

The memories of Sheikh Khalifa will live on throughout the UAE, Middle East, and the world as Sheikh Khalifa’s rule saw the UAE become a major hub for the world. In just 50 years time, the UAE went from a newly independent state to the country known by all in the world for its spectacular sites and forward looking leaders.

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, is named after Sheikh Khalifa due to Abu Dhabi paying off some of Dubai’s debt and will be forever a reminder of the quests undertaken by Emiratis under Sheikh Khalifa’s rule.

How should the UAE move forward?

The UAE has a unique nation in transition from one of immense wealth concentrated in the Emirati citizenry and one of impoverished conditions of many of the migrant workers, to one where these migrant workers will be making a healthy living. These migrant workers living conditions have been becoming better under Sheikh Khalifa’s reign, especially with the new permanent residency laws. In order for the UAE to continue to be a stable country in the midst of a unstable region, the new leader of the UAE will have to continue this trend of higher living standards for the most poor in the UAE, while also balancing the demands of the local Emiratis. This will curb any revolutionary fervor.

The UAE needs to continue their revolutionary policies with regards to the sciences in terms of agriculture, weather, and space. The UAE has been heavily investing in cloud seeding to increase rain and aquaculture to increase agriculture and this needs to continue for the UAE to become more self-sufficient. As for space, the UAE needs to solidify itself among the world leaders in space exploration following their 2021 successful drone mission to Mars.

The UAE is a place that has defeated Islamic extremism in its borders, and has embraced religious pluralism. For the UAE to continue to be seen as a leader, the UAE needs to continue to fight off any attempts to make the country a hub for Islamic extremism and needs to embrace their Christian and Jewish connections as well to become a center of religious dialogue on the Arabian Peninsula. This will better connect the UAE to the rest of the world. Sheikh Khalifa had to dismantle a Muslim Brotherhood aligned Islamist group coup in 2006, and Sheikh Mohamed has been very key in fighting Islamic extremism since he effectively took control in 2014.

The UAE has been moving toward a more democratic system of government for some positions, and this is good for the country. The UAE needs to beware of becoming too democratic, but the UAE often suffers from a lack of constructive criticism. For the UAE to advance in the world, their leaders need to have incentives to do good. But, at the same time, the UAE needs stability. So, the current system is sufficing, and just a little more democracy could go a long way in transforming the losing sectors of the UAE into winning sectors. Going to the UAE, you see that the nation has a lot of room to grow, and injecting more democracy can lead to more policies on how to do this.

The UAE needs to continue to expand the role of women in its society. Imagine a world in which 50% of your country cannot participate in the economy or civil society? Unfortunately for a lot of the Islamic world, this is the case, but the UAE has been changing this within their own borders, especially in the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This needs to continue for the UAE to prosper, as the UAE still is not quite there yet in terms of releasing its collective women power.

The UAE should continue to invest in transportation, education, health, and technology. The UAE is embarking on a new railroad that will transverse all emirates and will boost both industry and tourism, while the UAE continues to open up and partner with new universities and hospitals. The UAE is also embracing more advancement in a plethora of technologies, such as nuclear and solar energy, and desalinization plants. This should continue so the UAE can become more advanced.

English and Constitutional Law might be most important for the growth of the UAE though. In order for the UAE to reach its next level of success, creating guarantees in the law, and embracing its already English language dominated society in the major cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi will make the UAE more connected to the Western world and thus the centers of finance. Investors need to know that their private property and investments will be protected according to the law, even if they fall out of favor with the ruling class, or else they will not fully invest as much as they could in the UAE. Plus, they also need to know what they are investing in, which is why the use of the English language is so important. The UAE has already been adapting laws and using the English language officially to benefit investors, but more can be done.

Lastly, the UAE needs to continue to exploit its federal system to allow for internal competition among the seven emirates. This will in turn, boost the UAE’s place among Qatar, Bahrain, and other countries in the region like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, and Oman. The UAE is competing with the world, and each emirate needs to contribute both industrial and human capital to the UAE’s goals of towering over the rest. They might have done this literally already with the Burj Khalifa, but they need to continue this with advancing their society.

How should the rest of the world respond?

The rest of the world should respond with condolences. Whether ally or foe, the new leadership, even if only in name, creates a time to re-engage and re-start relations.

The USA, Russia, the People’s Republic of China, the United Kingdom, France, and other world players like the Holy See and Israel should feel comforted by the fact that HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will most likely be taking over, since he has been the day to day ruler since 2014 anyway. However, the USA are in desperate need for a leader Sheikh Mohamed respects like President Trump. The USA should not be afraid to use the former president to their liking in dealing with Sheikh Mohamed, as both share a very cordial relationship unlike President Biden and Sheikh Mohamed.

But, those like the Islamic Republic of Iran, Qatar, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq should embrace a change of leadership, even if only formally, because this represents a time that they could restart their former friendship with the seven emirates. Already, Syria appear to be growing closer, and the Qatar’s and the UAE’s friendship has been rebounding as of late.

The country that should really take this time to change up their relationship with the UAE is Palestine. Palestine felt betrayed by the UAE when the UAE established formal relations with Israel, but this did not mean an abandonment of the Palestinians. The UAE could become the Muslim representatives for Palestine due to their friendship with Israel, and might be able to get concessions out of both to make the region more peaceful, that is if Palestine engages the UAE on this issue.


Sheikh Khalifa will go down as one of the best Heads of State in the Middle East by all accounts from human prosperity to human freedom to stability and to strength during the period in which he lived. The Emirati ingenuity found its place under Sheikh Khalifa, as Dubai and Abu Dhabi transformed themselves into world cities, and places such as Sharjah and Ajman supplemented this growth. The UAE saw incredible growth in tourism, business, industry, education, health, living standards, rights, religious freedom, female empowerment, and so much more. Sheikh Khalifa’s reign ended with historic deals with Israel and the Holy See, as well as the historic mission to Mars and Expo 2020 Dubai. The UAE became the home of many sporting events and the sport of cricket itself. The UAE become an entertainment hub with movie franchises such as Fast and Furious and Mission Impossible making the UAE prime location scenes.

The future is bright post-Sheikh Khalifa, but only if the UAE can continue the brilliance that happened under his rule.

Top 32 Clubs In The World After 2 May Matches

  1. Liverpool (England)
  2. Manchester City (England)
  3. Real Madrid (Spain)
  4. Chelsea (England)
  5. AC Milan (Italy)
  6. Inter Milan (Italy)
  7. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  8. PSG (France)
  9. FC Porto (Portugal)
  10. Ajax (the Netherlands)
  11. SC Portugal (Portugal)
  12. River Plate (Argentina)
  13. PSV (the Netherlands)
  14. Juventus (Italy)
  15. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)
  16. SC Freiburg (Germany)
  17. Villarreal (Spain)
  18. Napoli (Italy)
  19. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  20. Arsenal (England)
  21. RB Leipzig (Germany)
  22. Real Betis (Spain)
  23. Atlético Mineiro (Brazil)
  24. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  25. Racing Club (Argentina)
  26. Corinthians (Brazil)
  27. Flamengo (Brazil)
  28. Bayern Leverkusen (Germany)
  29. FC Barcelona (Spain)
  30. Olympique de Marseille (France)
  31. Sevilla (Spain)
  32. Atlético Madrid (Spain)


  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Brazil
  5. Italy
  6. France
  7. Portugal
  8. Argentina
  9. the Netherlands
  10. Mexico

The House Bill to Seize Russian Frozen Assets is a Terrible Precedent

We need more financial independence and not less in this country.

Ironically, our socialist member of the House understands this better than most other people.

Four Democrats and four Republicans all voted against the House Bill that would allow the Executive Branch to seize the wealth of Russian Oligarchs that exceeds 5 Million USD, and this wealth would then be transferred to Ukraine to help with their war efforts. The Russian in question has to be a supporter of President Putin’s invasion supposedly, although we know that often times, more people are accused than are truly guilty of this, and not many Russians have even a chance to not support their Russian president somewhat, due to the authoritarian nature of their state. Therefore, this leads to a potential of many Russians losing their wealth without due process, including those on the West’s side and working from the inside to stop the war and possibly take President Putin out of power.

Here are the House of Representative members who voted against this bill:

  1. Madison Cawthorn: NC-11 (R)
  2. Marjorie Taylor Greene: GA-14 (R)
  3. Thomas Massie: KY-4 (R)
  4. Chip Roy: TX-21 (R)
  5. Cori Bush: MO-1 (D)
  6. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez: NY-14 (D)
  7. Ilhan Omar: MN-5 (D)
  8. Rashida Tlaib: MI-13 (D)

These representatives may not be regarded popularly now, but they may become regarded as highly as those who fought against the Patriot Act and some of the other unlawful practices of the US Military and Intelligence communities during the earlier era of the War on Terror.

Here is the statement from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s team, a self-described democratic-socialist:

As you can see here, private property is important to her and to the greater United States community.

There are two major reasons these eight congressional leaders are correct.

One, it does set a terrible precedent and it either is or should be unconstitutional, and is 100 percent against the spirit of the law. How soon before they start seizing our wealth. It creates instability in our business sphere as foreign nationals will hesitate to invest money in the USA over fears of their government acting up, and it potentially hurts many lower class immigrants and many others including our own domestic citizens who could be next to be targeted. As we have seen under previous administrations and in Canada, financial wars against one’s own people can happen in proper constitutional states as well.

Two, it is not very smart. A lot of these oligarchs are against the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, and a lot of them have been trying to work to end it. Furthermore, a lot of them have wealth in the West because they want to keep their money from the corrupt Russian government. They do not want to be extorted or blackmailed. More Russian money here probably means less Russian money in Russia. And, we should be doing everything we can to prop up one of these oligarchs as the next ruler to stop this invasion and create popular and a realistic demand for a change of president in Russia. We should not be driving these oligarchs to further believe Russia’s propaganda that seeks to paint the West as bad as Russia when it comes to freedoms, rights, and liberties, and as Russophobic.

Even though these are not the most popular members of the House of Representatives, and even though these are often the most radical members on each side of this chamber, they made the right call. When judging decisions like this, it is best to look at the decision instead than to resort to ad hominem attacks.

Also, lastly, it is highly contextual the way in which Russian Oligarchs got their money. Many people accuse them of stealing the money, but it is not like that all the time, or really at all. They often just got really good deals or were very smart. Either way, they should have due process.

For More Information, you can read this here:

Also, the ACLU has come out against this bill:

Top 32 Clubs in the World:

  1. Liverpool (England)
  2. Manchester City (England)
  3. Real Madrid (Spain)
  4. Chelsea (England)
  5. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  6. PSG (France)
  7. Inter Milan (Italy)
  8. FC Porto (Portugal)
  9. AC Milan (Italy)
  10. Villarreal (Spain)
  11. Juventus (Italy)
  12. RB Leipzig (Germany)
  13. Real Betis (Spain)
  14. Atlético Mineiro (Brazil)
  15. Racing Club (Argentina)
  16. SC Portugal (Portugal)
  17. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  18. Ajax (Netherlands)
  19. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)
  20. SC Freiburg (Germany)
  21. Atlético Madrid (Spain)
  22. Napoli (Italy)
  23. PSV (Netherlands)
  24. Olympique de Marseille (France)
  25. FC Barcelona (Spain)
  26. Union Berlin (Germany)
  27. Sevilla (Spain)
  28. Arsenal (England)
  29. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  30. Palmerias (Brazil)
  31. River Plate (Argentina)
  32. SL Benfica (Portugal)

Top Leagues:

  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Brazil
  5. Italy
  6. France
  7. Portugal
  8. The Netherlands
  9. Argentina
  10. Mexico

The USA Should Use the 2024 T20 World Cup to Grow Closer to the Caribbean

Central America increasingly is being placed into the PR China sphere, and other areas across South America and the Caribbean are.

Recently, El Salvador just announced a new stadium to be built with PR China investment.

And Nicaragua just switched allegiance to the CCP’s China in 2021.

Now, the concerns are in the Caribbean as many nations here are tempted by the opportunity for PRC investment into their nations.

Yet, this region is still the strongest in the world with recognizing the Republic of China (Taiwan/ROC), with three of the 15 member nations of the West Indies National Cricket Team recognizing Taiwan. Those three are St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Furthermore, there are two nations within CARICOM that are not part of the West Indies Cricket Team that also recognize Taiwan and those are Belize and Haiti.

And, with Honduras, Guatemala, and Paraguay, the Americas displays it is still the region standing up the most to the CCP.

But recently, places like Jamaica and Barbados have been receiving major investment from the PRC, and after the Solomon Islands deal, it is well-known now that commonwealth realm members like Jamaica or the Solomon Islands can make deals with the CCP without worries of interference from the Governor-General or the Queen.

This is due to many varying factors such as too many demands attached to aid from Western nations and anti-colonialist rhetoric that the PRC masters its propganada on. While no one really sees the PRC as an innocent player, they do see them as the country that did not enslave them or take over their nation, which is what Jamaica and Babardos sees the UK as, and the USA is linked to the UK in these deals.

But, the USA’s co-hosting at the 2024 Cricket World Cup and their influx of Indian immigrants, especially into their cricket scene, has opened up a pathway between Americans and the people of the Caribbean that did not exist previously, at least not to this extent.

The Americans are dumping tons of money into cricket infrastructure, and tons of money into new cricket leagues, that will surely rival and be the envy of those in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean, meanwhile, has been plagued with not funding their cricket enough, and with their cricket dwindling in popularity. However, for the Caribbean movement, cricket is most important. It is the sport that brought them together in the 1960s-1980s and since and has shown them that together, these mighty small nations can create the best in the world!

And, as seen from policies created by Barbados and Jamaica, as well as others like Trinidad and Tobago, the push for greater integration into CARICOM and the Caribbean Justice System has become the new thing. And only cricket seems to be the sport that unites all, or at least most of these nations together as one.

Cricket is the beating heart of nationalism for the Caribbean.

The USA must recognize this and use their co-hosting to signal to these nations that they are like them and in their neighborhood. The USA must use its Caribbean and Indian community to alert the Caribbean-Black and Caribbean-Indian community that they are more alike than what meets the eye.

The USA must use the soft power of cricket to bring the Caribbean back under its sphere of influence.

The USA can do this with a proper World Cup and proper partnership with the Caribbean. Given that the World Cup the USA is co-hosting is the Twenty20 version, this will mean that more youths across the Caribbean will be watching and will be associating the USA with West Indies’ success. This can do wonders 30 years down the line for the USA.

But, the USA needs something quick so that the PRC does not keep stumping the Americans in the Americas.

The USA knows the likes of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela will almost certainly be pro-PRC, but for the other nations, it does not have to be this way.

Already, one can see the influence baseball plays in foreign diplomacy in the Americas as baseball has greatly reduced hostilities between Cuba and the USA, between Nicaragua and the USA, and between Venezuela and the USA, and it has fostered closer US relations with numerous of nations like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia. Cricket can do the same for a lot of the English-speaking Caribbean.

As it is, it is important for the USA to get along with the Caribbean because it is already there anyway. Puerto Rico is an observer member of CARICOM and the US Virgin Islands is a member of the Cricket West Indies.

The USA can grow closer with more investment into cricket and more cricket diplomacy. The 2024 World Cup signals the best chance for the USA to re-engage the Caribbean.

It is Time for Pakistan to Recognize the NRF as the Afghanistan Government

Time has long passed for Pakistan to become a good actor on the world stage.

Pakistan continually has backstabbed allies and has taken from all sorts of countries and ideologies, whether it be the USA, PR China, or radical Islam, Pakistan continues to move toward a world where it is not trusted and continually attacked and radicalized, creating more instability and more poverty.

In order to stop this radicalization and these attacks, Pakistan needs to stop propping up the Taliban-led Afghanistan and revert to supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan government, placed in the trust of the National Resistance Force (NRF).

If Pakistan fails to do this, Pakistan will continue to fall into the same trap of sponsoring the Taliban under the false pretense that the Pakistan Taliban is different and that the Afghanistan Taliban will stop it. The Afghanistan Taliban will continue to allow the Pakistan Taliban safe haven as both seek to reunite Pashtunistan.

Pakistan must remember that to fight terrorism, one must support those trying to fight it. The NRF is fighting terrorism for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Check this featured link for an update on the situation:

For more in-depth coverage knowledge on the situation unfolding in this region from the Afghanistan pull-out, check out:

Solomon Islands Deal with PR China

The Solomon Islands have officially signed a security pact with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that will see the PRC have the ability to have military bases in the Solomon Islands, as well as send in military and security forces personnel if requested.

This is disastrous for the Commonwealth Realm and for Western Interests, as well as Taiwanese, Indonesian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Malaysian, and Brunei interests.

The Commonwealth Realm is a group of 14 nations under the same person, but a different role, Queen Elizabeth II. As Queen of the Solomon Islands, Queen Elizabeth II is represented by Governor-General David Vunagi, but mostly, she and he hold only nominal power as seen from their lack of influence over the PR China deal. Australia, New Zealand, and the UK highly objected to this deal, as did numerous of other Commonwealth Realm members who seek to grow democracy around the world via constitutional monarchies, and who hope to keep their influence strong in the Pacific as the Communist China appears to be taking more and more sea, land, and influence in the region. Australia had signed a deal with the USA and UK earlier to make them stronger against the PRC, militarily on the sea, but now, PR China will be much closer to Australia threatening Australian sovereignty via force, instead of just via influence. For New Zealand, they have strong relations with the PRC, but also have come under fire due to them sticking up for Hong Kong and banning Huawei 5G. Papua New Guinea (PNG) will also be concerned as North Bougainville attempts independence by 2027, with Solomon Islands support. The Solomon archipelago includes North Bougainville, and thus the two are both Melanesian and related. PNG will hope North Bougainville does not gain PRC support via the Solomon Islands.

The USA, Japan, and NATO as a whole have been trying to preserve the Republic of China’s (ROC/Taiwan) status quo, but now, it appears to have taken another weak turn as the PRC establishes more military territorially in the Pacific. Furthermore, there is great concern that the PRC could continue to try and dominate more Pacific Islands, and already have in places like Tonga! This is a big worry for the West as many possessions of the West and allies of the West are in the Oceanian region. For example, earlier in this century, it appeared PNG was falling under the PRC military apparatus, but luckily, that was not the case.

For the ROC, this move is highly disastrous, as it is for the other nations bordering the South China Sea, which include Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. All of these nations wish to keep their sea sovereignty, but now, the PRC will have access to pressure these nations from the north and south and east and west, and will have allied justifications to be in international waters all around these nations for the Solomon Islands defense.

Overall, this deal hurts the Western alliance against PRC aggression.

It still leaves a question as to whether the Queen of the Solomon Islands will ever step in to fend off certain bad legislation and deals as she is supposed to do.

UK Sending Refugees to Rwanda is not as Bad as It Seems

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) has recently come under fire due to reports they will be sending asylum seekers and refugees to Rwanda.

Many people see this as barbaric, but, those peoples are probably very misinformed that Rwanda has become one of Africa’s brightest countries whose economic growth has seen it become termed, the African Singapore.

With a stable government that preaches against dividing people ethnically, due to the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, President Kagame has overseen a vibrant Rwanda that has become the capitalist paradise in Sub-Saharan Africa, amidst many failing socialist states.

President Paul Kagame is not a perfect president by any means, as his country does appear to be de facto one-party led at this point, but nonetheless, he has overseen a vibrant Rwanda and refugees would be very lucky to be a part of this new Rwanda.

Rwanda and the UK seem to both see benefits from this. The UK does not want more asylum seekers, and Rwanda wants more workers to boost their economy, and thus both appear to get a net benefit from this.

Furthermore, the existence of subsistence living as a healthy alternative provides refugees with a really good potential to live fulfilling lives, even if they do not do well in the job market.

But, there are some negatives.

One, if the migrants are predominantly Muslim, this could prove too dangerous for Rwanda unless they are treated very well, because the Eastern flanks of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has an ISIS insurgence going on, and there are worries this could spread to Rwanda, as it has to other countries in the region, if Rwanda is not careful. Rwanda is a Christian country, but, its usage of Swahili as an official language opens itself also up to ISIS, al-Qaeda, and al-Shabaab propaganda in East Africa on the coast especially. To combat this potential rise of Muslims, Rwanda will have to overtly make Muslims feel welcomed there. Islamic extremism preys on young people who already feel the world is against them, so Rwanda does not need to add more fuel to the fire. Rwanda may have to follow the UAE’s plan and censor mosques and imams.

Two, this could fuel British anti-Briton feelings that could hurt the nation, not just for those that are minorities, but also for Britons who generally benefit from the diverse backgrounds of various groups in the United Kingdom. The UK is one of the centers of global trade and entertainment, but if the UK continues shenanigans like this, it could push many to abandon the UK for other countries relegating the importance of economic hubs like the City of London. These worries existed right after Brexit too, according to many critics, but the UK has done well since.

Three, there are issues concerning to the Rwanda human rights record, which may put certain groups at risk, in addition to concerns over Rwanda’s prevailing health issues. Rwanda did have a very successful COVID-19 response, but on other fronts, Rwanda is still behind. So, by placing certain people in Rwanda, it could harm them, whereas in the UK, these harms would mostly not be there.

Four, Rwanda’s alliances could prove troubling for some of these refugees, especially if Rwanda colludes with some of these allies to hurt these migrants. This needs to be analyzed by intelligence agencies and the UN, plus NGOs.

Future plans with this immigration for Rwanda should include work permits like in the UAE, with a potential for permanent citizenship later like in the USA. Rwanda should vet all of these people, before granting citizenship to them. Rwanda needs to make sure these people are safe.

Perhaps, the biggest positive that could come from this is a continual diversification of Rwanda which could create a more stable Rwanda, ironically, as it could further a potential where the two major ethnic groups must work with others to achieve electoral and popular victory. Plus, it can connect Rwanda to the outside world more, and bring Rwanda all sorts of talents to boost Rwandan morale and pride, as well as their economy potentially.

Top 32 Clubs around the World Right Now:

  1. Liverpool (England) +
  2. Manchester City (England) –
  3. Real Madrid (Spain)
  4. Chelsea (England)
  5. Atlético Mineiro (Brazil)
  6. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  7. PSG (France) +
  8. Inter Milan (Italy) –
  9. AC Milan (Italy) +
  10. RB Leipzig (Germany) +
  11. FC Porto (Portugal) +
  12. Villarreal (Spain) +
  13. River Plate (Argentina) +
  14. Racing Club (Argentina) +
  15. Flamengo (Brazil) +
  16. Atlético Madrid (Spain) +
  17. FC Barcelona (Spain) +
  18. SC Portugal (Portugal) –
  19. SL Benfica (Portugal) +
  20. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) +
  21. Palmeiras (Brazil) –
  22. Napoli (Italy) +
  23. Estudiantes de La Plata (Argentina) +
  24. Fluminense (Brazil) –
  25. Juventus (Italy) –
  26. Colo-Colo (Chile) –
  27. SC Corinthians Paulista (Brazil) +
  28. Real Betis (Spain)
  29. Sevilla (Spain)
  30. Borussia Dortmund (Germany) +
  31. Ajax (the Netherlands) –
  32. PSV Eindhoven (the Netherlands) +

Dropped from previous rankings:

  • Leicester City (England)
  • West Ham United (England)
  • Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  • Independiente del Valle (Ecuador)


  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Brazil
  5. Italy
  6. France
  7. Portugal
  8. Argentina
  9. Netherlands
  10. Mexico

Top 32 Club Power Rankings:


  1. Manchester City (England) +
  2. Liverpool (England) +
  3. Real Madrid (Spain) +
  4. Chelsea (England) –
  5. Atlético Mineiro (Brazil) +
  6. Bayern Munich (Germany) –
  7. Inter Milan (Italy) +
  8. Palmeiras (Brazil) +
  9. PSG (France) +
  10. Ajax (the Netherlands) +
  11. AC Milan (Italy) +
  12. Villarreal (Spain) +
  13. FC Porto (Portugal) +
  14. SC Portugal (Portugal) +
  15. River Plate (Argentina) +
  16. Atlético Madrid (Spain) –
  17. Flamengo (Brazil) –
  18. FC Barcelona (Spain) –
  19. Juventus (Italy) +
  20. Fluminense (Brazil) +
  21. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) +
  22. SL Benfica (Portugal) +
  23. Napoli (Italy) +
  24. Colo-Colo (Chile) +
  25. Independiente del Valle (Ecuador) +
  26. West Ham United (England) +
  27. Leicester City (England) +
  28. Real Betis (Spain) +
  29. Sevilla (Spain) +
  30. Racing Club (Argentina) +
  31. Tottenham Hotspur (England) +
  32. Estudiantes de La Plata (Argentina) +


  1. Manchester City (England) +
  2. Liverpool (England) +
  3. Real Madrid (Spain) +
  4. Chelsea (England) –
  5. Bayern Munich (Germany) –
  6. Inter Milan (Italy) +
  7. PSG (France) +
  8. Ajax (the Netherlands) +
  9. RB Leipzig (Germany) +
  10. AC Milan (Italy) +
  11. Villarreal (Spain) +
  12. FC Porto (Portugal) +
  13. SC Portugal (Portugal) +
  14. Atlético Madrid (Spain) –
  15. FC Barcelona (Spain) –
  16. Juventus (Italy) +
  17. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) +
  18. SL Benfica (Portugal) +
  19. Napoli (Italy) +
  20. West Ham United (England) +
  21. Leicester City (England) +
  22. Real Betis (Spain) +
  23. Sevilla (Spain) +
  24. Tottenham Hotspur (England) +
  25. Olympique de Marseilles (France) +
  26. Stade Rennais (France)
  27. PSV Eindhoven (the Netherlands) +
  28. Lille OSC (France) –
  29. SC Freiberg (Germany) +
  30. Manchester United (England) –
  31. Union Berlin (Germany) +
  32. Trabzonspor (Turkey) +