Coming off the heels of the United States finally putting their stamp on qualification for the FIFA World Cup later this year in Qatar, U.S. Soccer made the shock announcement early Friday that all players sporting tattoos will no longer be called up for either the men’s or women’s teams in the future.
In a directive — issued by members of the U.S. Soccer Board in the early hours of Friday — players with tattoos will no longer be recruited for the country’s youth and senior teams starting at the Under-17 levels. They went on to add further that even players willing to undergo laser removal treatment will not get a call-up.
A U.S. Soccer employee, speaking on anonymity, said some of the board members and former national team players were getting sick and tired of seeing players coming into camps flashing their latest artwork and focusing more on their likes and follows on social media than getting in the right frame of mind for games.
The employee mentioned that one official stated in the meeting that the move would help set a “good example for society,” as they make a push to attract more youths to play soccer over ice hockey in the organization’s attempt to make the National Hockey League defunct like the North American Soccer League.
The news came as a surprise to many of the players on the men’s national team as they had just come off a 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica on Thursday in San Jose. Some felt annoyed by the directive as core players such as Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, along with others have played their final games for the country.
No players made themselves available for comment on the matter as they showed their resistance to U.S Soccer’s measure by making appointments with world-renowned tattoo artists and ramping up their presence on social media.
This news has also come at a terrible time for head coach Gregg Berhalter as he and his staff are now forced to scramble to find suitable replacements for players who are now banned from the team.
While Americans playing in Germany’s third tier 3. Liga and regional leagues have been put on notice about future call-ups, there have been a few players stateside looking to fill the voids.
One player that Berhalter has reportedly been bullish on is British-American Roger Bennett. Despite being 51 years old and last playing for the unaffiliated Men In Blazer’s national team, the coach believes he could fill in nicely in the midfield alongside Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah. The main problem for the Liverpool native is his fitness as he has been living off Budweisers in a panic room at an undisclosed location in New York City.
It has also been reported that Brad Friedel expressed willingness to come out of retirement at 50 to suit up for the national team once again as he feels he has a superior advantage over the likes of Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, and young up-and-comer Gabriel Slonina.
However, the main concern leading up to the big tournament in November is who can take the reigns at center-forward. Scouts have informed Berhalter of a promising player named Jay Goppingen based in southern California. Some skeptics have said he looks exactly like former German international Jurgen Klinsmann, but as he has an American passport he’ll do just fine.
The U.S women’s national team will also be affected by U.S Soccer’s edict with the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, and Lynn Williams being told their services will no longer be needed.
With qualification for the 2023 Women’s World Cup starting in July for CONCACAF teams, head coach Vlatko Andonovski was philosophical on the issue. He was very confident that he could find suitable replacements for the players that will be excluded.
It’s been rumored that the coach has been in contact with Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, and Brianna Scurry to convince them to make a return to the national team.
U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow-Cone has also reportedly made it known that she intends on leaving her executive role to return to the field to add another World Cup title to her resume.
Happy April Fools Day!