With Real Madrid’s recent spending extravaganza, most of the talk coming from bloggers and other football analysts has been centered around whether or not Real Madrid’s transfers will in fact turn into results on the pitch. The general consensus from various websites is that it will be a flop. This is largely due to the fact that the last Galctico era (which saw the like of Beckham, Ronaldo, and Michael Owen brought in) was considered a flop due to their inability to gain the dominance of Europe that teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, and Barcelona have enjoyed the last few seasons. (I mention Chelsea because even though they have failed to win the Champions League, they have made it to the Semi Finals for 4 of the last 5 seasons which is an exceptional feat) However, no one can deny the difference with Galactico 2.0’s acquisitions which includes the last two FIFA World Players of the Year in Kaka and Ronaldo. Also, the fact that they picked up the experienced Raul Albiol and prolific Benzema doesn’t hurt either.
Before Madrid’s spending began, if there were to have been a poll as to whose football players’ names would be the most recognizable to people who do not follow football, I would guess that David Beckham and Pele would top list. Although both players are exceptional in their own way, this wouldn’t have sat well with those in the modern football world. I mean if those people, who may have an interest in the game, were to know how truly great football is, then shouldn’t they know the names of the world’s top players?
Well, now with Madrid’s record breaking transfers of Kaka followed by Ronaldo, those people are now familiar with arguably the world’s two best players. With news of these transfers getting time on ESPN Sportscenter, which tries its best to keep from airing soccer headlines, people all over the United States now knew how important soccer was to some people if one team was willing to pay a quarter of a billion dollars on two players alone. For better or worse, people took notice of soccer. Couple these stories and recent stories of the United States upset over Spain, Landon Donovan’s comments about Beckham and Onyewu’s transfer to AC Milan, and soccer has been getting more coverage than ever this past summer.
People are beginning to take notice. Late night talk show hosts, like Stephen Colbert, have been bringing up the stories to their audiences. When Colbert announced the Americans’ upset over Spain, the studio erupted with cheering and applause from the audience. Now, I’m going to take a wild hunch and say that that was the first time a few of those in the audience that night ever cheered for a soccer team that much before. Alexi Lalas is something of a household name after his analysis of the Confederation’s Cup and work with ESPN’s Sportscenter. And people all over the country now know Real Madrid as the team that spent a boatload of cash for two soccer players.
I’m one of those people who believe any publicity is good publicity especially in the case of a sport that is now beginning to pick up in a country that needs it most.