Putting the World Cup Final in New Jersey would be great, if you like cruel and unusual punishment

Despite the short distance, it sure takes a long fucking time to get between NY and NJ when there’s traffic

The states of New York and New Jersey launched a joint successful campaign to be a host city for the 2026 World Cup a while back. And yeah, of course the world’s biggest individual sporting event couldn’t have the most populous region of the country left out when the United States, Mexico, and Canada host in three summers. Hosting a final at MetLife Stadium? Yeah, that’s a horrible idea for many reasons, despite the Times Square pleas from New York City mayor Eric Adams, who’s done little to inspire confidence among his constituents recently, and New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, whose approval rating dipped below 50 percent despite living in one of the bluest states in America.

First, the densely populated areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn are far from East Rutherford, New Jersey, with no convenient way to get to the stadium. Sure, get there early and tailgate. But with horrible traffic and packing people into public transit like sardines will make the trek the most enjoyable experience, almost like watching England play in a World Cup. When you see it’s nine miles on Google Maps from the Empire State Building to the home of Aaron Rodgers, you forget how awful driving in New York City is and how Jersey isn’t any better. Unless you want to convert Citi Field or Yankee Stadium, and you don’t, making people have the arduous trek out to a hellish part of the most densely populated state in the nation is cruel and unusual punishment, almost as bad as going to Qatar. 

NY/NJ’s bid will be met by Dallas, LA, and other major cities

New York and New Jersey’s bid to bring the biggest game in soccer will have huge challenges from Dallas, Los Angeles, Toronto, Mexico City, and Chicago, at least, with Hollywood likely having the best case to court the game away from the Big Apple’s weird suburbs. The glitzy new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood isn’t in the populated part of Los Angeles and the city’s traffic has a worldwide reputation for being horrible, I get it. But at least you don’t have to cross state lines to get to the home of the Rams and Chargers. And there are plenty of highways to get out of the more traffic-crazy part of the city. There’s no avoiding that anywhere close to the home of the Jets and Giants.

Adams and Murphy’s charge thinks it could put on a shindig that’s the equivalent of “eight Super Bowls” for a World Cup Final. It hosted Seattle’s shellacking of Denver in 2014, with Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing at halftime. The Jets have won exactly one Super Bowl in 1969 and the Giants have sucked for several years, but did win one as recently as 2012. So eight times the effort for Eli Manning to defeat Tom Brady? I know it’s supposed to be overstated how bad you’d like the revenue to the area, but please fuck off. Eight Super Bowls makes you both sound as dumb as Chance The Rapper talking about hockey, as we know he’s playing a character.

When the host cities for the 2026 World Cup were announced last year, FIFA president Gianni Infantino didn’t give away any information as to how the selection process would work for which cities host what rounds. The Meadowlands hosted seven matches during the last men’s World Cup to be hosted in America in 1994, as well as four during the 1999 women’s World Cup, with both finals taking place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. What’s closer to that historic venue, with an event like the World Cup that loves to shove its history down our throats, Los Angeles or New York? The Big Apple has the best bagels and pizza, but keep the World Cup Final far away. 

FIFA wants to promote women’s soccer — as long as there’s money in it

Gianni Infantino says FIFA will be ‘forced not to broadcast’ this summer’s Women’s World Cup in the ‘big five’ European countries if bidding outlets do not improve on ‘disappointing’ and ‘unacceptable’ offers.

“FIFA is a non-profit organization” is one of the biggest oxymorons in the world. You don’t get a good portion of the organization indicted for corruption if the body is mainly focused on merely the health of the sport and building it from the bottom up. Gianni Infantino’s latest episode of throwing his toys out of the crib over the TV rights to the women’s World Cup this summer is only the latest example.

A bit of background is necessary. The TV rights and sponsorships to the women’s World Cup used to simply be bundled with the men’s World Cup. When Fox won the rights to broadcast, for example, it got both. That muddied the waters on what each tournament was making, which FIFA used as cover for the dwarfing of the women’s prize money by the men’s because it didn’t have exact figures for either. You would have thought it could just as easily be an excuse to equal them out, and certainly the fairer one. But this is FIFA, where logic and decency go to be brutally murdered.

World Cup broadcast rights separated out

Anyway, this upcoming World Cup is the first one where the broadcast rights have been separated out, and FIFA still hasn’t struck a deal with anyone in the big five nations of Europe. Infantino went on to blast the meager offers FIFA has gotten for the rights, and is threatening to not put the games on European TV at all if the organization doesn’t get a proposal it feels is fair.

On the surface, this might seem like a worthy quest from FIFA’s president. But you really only have to dig to the spoon-level under the surface to see that Infantino only has FIFA’s accounts in mind. The supposed purpose of FIFA, laughably buried under its greed and corruption, is to promote the sport. So getting the biggest tournament on the women’s side of the game on TV across the world would be the surest way to promote the game. It really shouldn’t be about how much that check is for.

And if FIFA has to take a loss on the tournament, through beefed-up prize money and such? Who outside of Zurich gives a flying fuck? Isn’t the point the governance and administration of the game? It’s a pretty sure bet that FIFA can take the hit ($7.6 billion in revenue in 2022).

How much the tournament is worth to TV networks in Europe is a little harder to gauge than it might be here. Games will be on in the middle of the morning, which is better than the middle of the night as a good portion of the tournament will be in the U.S., but it’s still hardly primetime as last summer’s Euros were. If games are still heavily watched, networks could make a pretty penny through advertising and the low rights fees they’ve paid. But those are heady profits not going to FIFA, which you can bet is Infantino’s real bitch.

No one benefits from the games being blacked out 

The tournament is just over two months away now, and while it would be great if networks in the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, and Germany were throwing full shipping containers of cash for the rights, not putting the tournament on TV helps exactly no one. It doesn’t help promote the women’s game, it does a disservice to established fans who can’t simply fly off to Australia and New Zealand, and it provides fodder for those who would shit on the women’s game simply for sport. Everyone loses, though perhaps there is a part of Infantino that is using this whole charade as cover for his real aim of confirming that it’s not worth putting the time and money into the women’s game that the organization he presides over should.

Sadly, this can be the open market sometimes, and if this is what FIFA is being offered then that’s what it’s being offered. Getting on their high horse when they’ve been the ones who have failed to properly run, promote, or administer the women’s World Cup in the past is an empty gesture. The lowball TV offers only hurt FIFA–the prize money has already been promised and set aside–and perhaps a second straight tournament of boffo numbers would cause the bidding war in 2027 that FIFA so desires to line its own pockets. These things can take time, but Infantino can’t satisfy his constituents with promises of slow growth in the future.

UEFA lost money on the last Euros, for as much of a success as it was. But it will get a better TV deal for the Women’s Champions League in 2025 because of it, and the individual leagues have gotten or will get better TV deals from the momentum. That’s how this works.

But when you’re FIFA and Infantino and have become accustomed to getting all the cash you want, legally or not, as soon as you want it, nothing else will do.

Joe Pavelski returns in style

Back on these shores, the NHL playoffs entered its second round. The best story was the return of Joe Pavelski, who missed almost all of the first round after Mathew Dumba of Minnesota decided to bulldoze him in Game 1 and knocked him out. Not only did Pavelski return, but he also scored four goals (no stroking though). His fourth came on this Brett Butler-like bunt at full speed, which tied the game at 4 and sent it to overtime, where the Stars eventually lost:

Pavelski, even at 38, remains the game’s best deflection…dude? That’s got an alliteration, let’s go with it. No one’s ever been better when posted in front of the net and has a teammate’s shot headed at him. He always seems to get a stick on it. This was on the rush with him moving at a high rate of knots, making it all the more impressive.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate.