The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

LEARY: US-Ukraine soccer friendly presents unique diplomatic opportunity

Patrick LearyMonday marked the 100-day warning for the start of the most popular event in international sports, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

In preparation for the big tournament, the United States national team plays exhibition matches, called “friendlies,” against solid competition. The US was originally scheduled to play Ukraine Wednesday, but due to the international controversy, the game was called off Monday afternoon. By Monday night, the game was back on.

The Ukranian national team won’t compete in this summer’s tournament after France eliminated them in a playoff tie in November. However, the squad still carries a No. 18 FIFA World Ranking and features international stars like Anatoliy Tymoschuk, Andriy Voronin and all-time great, striker Andriy Shevchenko.

That said, most of the buzz about the match will not even touch on the players on the field. The political drama related to the standoff between Ukraine and Russia will rightfully usurp any goals scored or injury news.

Presently, Russia is mobilizing against Ukraine because President Vladimir Putin does not recognize the new political regime in the former Soviet Republic. The United States strongly opposed Russia’s intervention and the level of tension in the region is so high that Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer called the uncertainty “worse than at any point we’ve seen since 9/11.”

As such, the game, originally scheduled to take place in Kharkiv, was moved to the nearby island nation of Cyprus last week. For obvious safety reasons, the American team will not play in the crisis-ridden country.

But is Cyprus really that much safer? Friday, a car bomb in a suburb of the capital Nicosia detonated on top of the automobile of the referees association’s president. No one was hurt in the blast, but all of the First Division matches in Cyprus were postponed over the weekend.

It seems that if the United States plays the game Wednesday, it will enter a dangerous situation. But perhaps that makes playing the game all the more important.

Sports, regardless of their form, are the ultimate distraction from the perils of daily life. They have the ability to make supporters feel the entire gamut emotions, from the epitome of elation to the depths of despair. Plus, with Ukraine and the United States taking place in the epic waltz that is the beautiful game at the highest level, this soccer match can bring people of both nations together.

That is why this match needs to happen. The purpose of the friendly match isn’t to pit the two countries at odds, but to collaborate for mutual benefit of both teams. That, and the United States can use the match as an opportunity to oppose Russian intervention.

The Russians can try and exert their influence on Ukraine’s government, but if the match goes on, they cannot rob the Ukrainian people of the joy of sport.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *