Though I am a big fan of European soccer, I am an even bigger fan of massive, gaudy manifestations of American exceptionalism. And what better display of the U.S. in all its decadence and sun-blotting self-regard than us having our biggest, dumbest sport that nobody else cares about ruin the pitch of a huge game in the world’s most popular sport’s most popular league?
Above is a screenshot from today’s Tottenham-Manchester City match—though just from the glance of the pitch you’d be forgiven if you thought it was a home game between the Kansas City Wizards and the Tampa Bay Mutiny from 1997. That’s because Wembley Stadium, the temporary(?) venue of Tottenham’s home games, was just yesterday the host of one of those dumb London NFL games, this one between the Jaguars and the Eagles. It was a bizarre, distracting, and hilarious spectacle watching the game. For instance, try to watch Raheem Sterling jink his way all the way into Spurs’ penalty area and set up Riyad Mahrez for an easy goal without thinking in your head, as Sterling nears the end zone, He could! Go! All! The! Way!
Not only does the pitch look dumb (though the lines do help with offside calls...) with all the football lines, it also plays like shit. The ball was bobbling all over the place since the groundskeepers obviously couldn’t get the grass back into pristine shape on such a quick turnaround. This was all an accident, too. When the Jaguars-Eagles game and the Spurs-City one were scheduled, Tottenham were supposed to have already finished building their new stadium. However, the new stadium’s Kafkaesque construction process has resulted in numerous delays. When no one could agree to any suitable alternative, they went ahead with keeping the game at Wembley and playing it a day after the NFL game. Which was bad for the zillions of Premier League fans who cared about this match, probably bad in the absolute sense, but was great for connoisseurs of monuments to neoliberal rot.