When allegations and indictments surfaced against FIFA last week, Briana Scurry was sad – for many reasons.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘Oh no, now the women’s World Cup is going to be overshadowed by all these allegations and this craziness,’” the former U.S. women’s goaltender said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “And so as the days went on, we found out more. My stance was, I really want this to be more about the women’s World Cup. These women have put so much time into getting ready for this, some of them playing in their first and some of them playing in their fifth and sixth World Cups. It’s unfortunate that these FIFA allegations have put a black cloud over this World Cup.”
Since the initial reports broke, the plot has only thickened. Sepp Blatter was reelected to a fifth term as FIFA president but has since resigned.
“Listening to his speech on Friday, he was very, very resilient,” Scurry said. “He was very dramatic. He was very defiant in his speech – how he said that he was not surprised that these things were happening since the USA and England lost the World Cup bids in 2018 and 2022, respectively. He was still very defiant. And then 72 hours later, he’s resigning. Clearly it seems to me he was given two choices: to resign or else. And it seems he chose to resign.”
Moving to the women’s World Cup, the United States, which finished runner-up in 2011, opens Monday against Australia at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The World Cup, of course, is the biggest soccer event in the world, so just how difficult is it to manage the emotions of playing in a World Cup instead of allowing those emotions to control you?
“It’s a delicate dance to be honest with you,” Scurry said. “As someone who played in four World Cups, all four were different for me. The first one was obviously a new kid on the block kind of situation. I had never done one before in 1995, and I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. That World Cup was also in Sweden, so there wasn’t a whole lot of eyes, but then 1999 came along.”
The United States won the World Cup on U.S. soil, outlasting China on penalty kicks to essentially put women’s soccer on the map. The Americans will be one of the heavy favorites entering play in Canada next week.
“These girls are going into this situation knowing that,” Scurry said. “But I think what needs to happen is they need to take that nervousness and that excitement and hone it into a very, very small, laser-like focus and just only concern themselves with their individual jobs. So the 23 of them, even the players that don’t play a single minute in this World Cup are as important as the players that play every minute. Each of them have to do their role to the utmost of their ability and exceed that to a point in order for the team to win. Because there are going to be so many things that occur in the next several weeks that they’re going to have to deal with.”
Alex Morgan, for example, has a bone bruise in her left knee and may not start against Australia.
“Whoever steps into those minutes is going to have to do their job,” Scurry said. “That’s going to show who’s ready and who’s not.”