World Cup Wrap-up (with a family law bent)

  •   |   Meghan Freed

A Twitter friend of ours, Francesca, sent the Tweet to the left after Ronaldo and Portugal exited the World Cup a week or so ago virtually simultaneously with Messi’s Argentina. For those who don’t follow ‘football’ Messi and Ronaldo are just about the consensus two best players in the world, have been for over a decade.

We were originally going to write a quick Facebook post about this, then decided, about two games later, to expand our scope and wait for the tournament to end, soccer has too many life-lessons to stick with just one.

Here goes:

First, foremost, Viva La France, Viva Les Bleus.

So, about Ronaldo and Messi … and while we’re at it the other member of soccer’s current Holy Trinity, Neymar of Brazil. Three transcendent players, three of the highest paid athletes in the world, three world soccer powers that built their teams around them, three men who watched the semi-finals from home while four ‘team-teams’ played.

There are a lot of reasons teams built around one great star don’t win the championship – Lebron James would undoubtedly be happy to fill you in on a host of them. An off-night, injury, fouling out A dozen more.

We’ll focus on this one – the other players standing around waiting for the star to do something spectacular and win the game. Stars take over, their teammates get used to it, then come to expect it. When it doesn’t happen, there’s no one to take over.

Yes, that is a metaphor for our firm’s total team approach.

Sitting on an advantage. As far as we can tell, every team that scored early and ‘sat’ on the lead, i.e., pulled everyone back on defense, wasted time passing the ball around with no movement toward the other team’s goal, lost.

England certainly did. They went up 1-0 five minutes into the semi-final with Croatia, great goal, exciting . . . and went into a shell for an hour of running game time. By the time Croatia tied it up they just couldn’t start their offensive engines again. At least not in anything more than fits and starts. Even though the score was tied, they looked doomed. Because they were.

A bad idea in any sport, an even worse idea in any family law matter.

Unintended Consequences. Anytime anyone is on any kind of stage everything they do or say is noticed and noted. Anything, a statement, an act, a look, a social media post, can have immediate reactions that can – probably will – be completely unexpected.

Take England’s manager, Gareth Southgate. He tried something different when he became the England coach, adapted a look he wanted to sport on the sidelines that would allow him to look professional while he remained comfortable and could roll up his sleeves.

Hence the waistcoat. A little different. He should have bought shares in Marks & Spencer’s while he was at it, sales of waistcoats (and the suits that usually go with them) are through the roof throughout the U.K. They can’t be kept in stock.

Just shows you never know.

Fairness. This is an easy one – soccer is not fair and never will be. There, simple.

There is one referee, two line judges (called, with remarkable optimism, assistant referees), and twenty-two players on an enormous field where the ball is hardly static. Fouls are missed, dives are rewarded, goals have been scored on handballs, handballs that never happened have become goals, off-sides are as correctly called as presidential elections.

It will always be this way. Everyone who plays knows this, even if they don’t act that way on the pitch.

There are two ways to handle the inherit unfairness. Argue with the referee, make gestures, put your hand up to indicate offsides or a foul . . . while the play goes on and you’re out of it. Or, ruefully shake your head and bust after the ball. It’s no coincidence whatever that the last two teams standing played like the latter description. It’s no coincidence whatever that Ronaldo, Messi, and Neymar’s teams played very much like the former.

You can probably guess where we and our clients fall.

Announcers. There was some controversy at the start of the tournament. Aly Wagner became the first woman to call a men’s World Cup game. She was fantastic. Fox Sports, however, caught a lot of flack for having a woman announcer. Seems a lot of male soccer fans didn’t like a female voice in the booth. Too different.

That’s a subject for sociologists, the result was that Fox went to an announcing team that was – and this is being kind – godawful. So bad many solid, long-time soccer fans who can’t speak a bit of Spanish flipped over to the Spanish channel anyway.

The Fox team’s main problem? They never shut up. Ever. They were incessant. They talked to fill the air as if a second or two of silence would cause every viewer in the North American market to flip over to General Hospital.

The main guy showed that he could rattle off Croatian names with rapidity – when he wasn’t ‘informing’ viewers for the 90th time in 90 minutes that if they won, ‘they’d be the second smallest nation to ever win the World Cup.” If you watched the game you most likely dreamed that fact.

He repeated himself; he stated the obvious with the breathlessness of a news flash of international importance – “This is the biggest game of this nineteen-year old’s life!” He never extended himself past clichés and platitudes.

The color guy called the game he was prepped for, not the game that was unfolding before him. Anyone who heard his color commentary for Belgium-Brazil but couldn’t see it, would have thought Brazil was up 3-0 or more. Instead of struggling. Instead of being outplayed.

He expected ingrained soccer wisdom, dogma, to prevail and never adapted; he was still gushing about Neymar as the referee was checking his watch for the final whistle.

Not what you want from your sports announcers, definitely not what you want from your lawyer.

These are a few of the thing we took from the World cup. We’ll check back in four years … when Aly Wagner will be dazzling us with her insights, France will win again (yup, we’re calling it now), and someone else will set off a new fashion trend.


Freed Marcroft guides select clients through the legal aspects of divorce and family law while remaining mindful of their overall wellness.

To discuss our helping with your situation, contact us today here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC