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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Japan's Women's Soccer Team Should Be Kicked Out Of The Olympics

After a 0-0 draw against the much weaker South African squad, Japan's women's national coach Sasaki Norio (surname first) admitted that he instructed his team to play for the draw at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Already through to the next round, the only thing Japan (1-2-0 = 5 pts) needed to figure out was whom they would be playing in the next stage quarter-finals.

Sasaki ordered his team to focus entirely on defense, and not play to win. He later stated, "I feel sorry we couldn't show a respectable game, but it is my responsibility, not the players', why the game was like that. It was a different way of playing compared to the usual game, but the players were on the same page as me."

While the coach ordered the style of play, the team listened... by playing defense only, they did not provide their best effort.  

What it (the 0-0 tie against a weaker opponent) provided for Japan was an easier travel arrangement - NOT necessarily an easier opponent.

For Sasaki, the plan to NOT WIN the match, but to NOT LOSE the match would allow Japan to finish in second-place in Group F while team Sweden takes first.

This 0-0 draw against the 61st-ranked South African team means it can stay at the same housing quarters and play at the same stadium (as this debacle) in Cardiff, Wales - saving themselves a 400-mile journey to Glasgow, Scotland.  

In the world, Japan is ranked third, and rather than play the 6th-ranked France team in Glasgow, they supposedly get the 5th-ranked Brazil team.

Hmmm... stronger opponent but no travel... saving themselves perhaps 6 hours of hassle.. meaning more preparation time.

Of course, I'm no great expert, but perhaps the throwing of the match (because that's what it is when you play not to win) allows Japan to play Brazil - a team it wants to play because it matches up better against than against France. Maybe. I said I'm not an expert (at least not in women's international soccer).

So... the penalty for Japan from the Olympics - NOTHING!

Because Japan didn't try and lose, the Olympic committee and FIFA felt there was no breach of rule or conduct.

That's gutlesss! Japan's woman's soccer team should be kicked out of the Olympics right now!
Here's the Olympic Oath:
In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.

What honor is there in going out and not performing to the best of your abilities? None. This was not sportsmanship! Perhaps South Africa wished to measure its progress against a powerhouse like Japan - but now finds its impressive 0-0 draw tarnished because Japan did not give full effort to try and win!

What about the fans who paid money to see Japan put forth a less than honorable effort? Give them their money back. What about the TV sponsors? Japan should pay them back too.

It makes me sick.

If China, South Korea and Indonesia can get kicked out for NOT TRYING to win badminton matches, then so should Japan's woman's soccer team. It does not matter if it was playing for the draw... it was not playing to win.

Personally, I have have lost a lot of respect for the hard-work and determination of the woman's national soccer team!

I played soccer for 12 years. I coached women's soccer for five years. Who cares about hardship or travel? You play the hardest you can and you win or you lose (or god help me draw)... but you always leave your best effort out on the pitch.

Japan's women's national soccer team left their best effort back in the hotel room.

Kick them out. Even if they didn't play to lose, they didn't play to win. In the Olympics, it's to prove yourself the best. If Japan should win a medal at these games, it will have done so without honor.

Japan can bow all it likes, but it should hand its head in shame.    
By Andrew Joseph

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