US Soccer Takes a Hit…WSD’s Final Show

Condemned for High Treason

Condemned for High Treason

(Shaun here with a new post.)

World Soccer Daily has announced today that it is their last show. For those unfamiliar with World Soccer Daily, it is (or was) a daily radio show out of Redondo Beach, CA that made itself available through terrestrial radio, Sirius Radio, and podcasts and arguably was the most listened to show on soccer in the US.

Without getting into the longer version of the story, the show’s host Steven Cohen, made some ill-advised comments (though completely entitled through freedom of speech) about the Hillsborough disaster. A group of single mindedly frightening people have gone about destroying their show by contacting their sponsors and now even threatening their families.

Its despicable. WSD has been instrumental in bringing the game to more prominence in this country and Steven and his fellow co-hosts should be applauded for all their efforts. I don’t agree personally with everything he says but that is my right as much as it is his to broadcast what he believes.

I’m a huge Liverpool fan and have been since 1980, but i’m embarrassed that people who dare call themselves supporters of the club I love would resort to such hatred and classlessness. Causes that exhibit such vitriol against other people in the name of something greater often leads to frightening consequences.

They have achieved nothing other than denting the growth of football in this country. The people of the US will no longer be able to hear legendary overseas pundits like Robbie Earle, Tim Vikery or hear directly from managers and chairmans of clubs like Burnley and Hull City. WSD had respect and and as a result phenomenal access.

Shame on those who helped do them in. You guys who are responsible for this or who support them, are idiots of the highest order and CERTAINLY are not Liverpool fans, I decry.

I hope they do come back on the air, sadly I don’t think they will.

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13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nic in NC on 2009/08/21 at 12:20 PM

    As a casual listener of the show I find this pretty sad. Radio hosts in this country frequently say despicable things but manage to stay on the air. However, in most cases they are right wing lunatics like Beck, O’Reilly and Savage etc. so if one of those shows were to go off the air there are plenty of alternatives. There’s no alternative to the WSD show so the damage made by this handful of offended Liverpool fans affects all football fans in the whole country. I am not condoning what he said (I frankly haven’t paid attention) but in this day and age when the President gets called Hitler 100 times per day I find it pretty pathetic. What these people accomplished is to get the only viable daytime soccer outlet in the country off the air. Great Work.

    Reply

    • OK, beck..o’oreily.. you had to go there..those guys..compared to the left radio and tv talk shows, are right on the money. and are no where near the hate speach..that you liberals are at. sarah palin.. anyway. cohen was another total liberal..who happend to open his pie hole so wide..that he forgot he was a chelsea fan…oops.

      even if i did not like the guys views on politics ..he was very good at what he did on that show..and its a real shame they are now GONE?. see.. no hate.

      oh.. how much did Bush get called Hitler?? war criminal..?? my dear sir..it goes both ways. but you folks are by far the worst i have ever run into in my life.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/23 at 7:43 PM

        Chaz — welcome to the blog–one of the caretakers here–and thanks for contributing in the commentary. We hope we provide a good forum for debate here, but we also focus on trying not to make commentary personal. We want really good point, counterpoint debate.

        We also try to keep it focused on soccer/football as best as we can, with exceptions all the time.

        We hope you keep contributing within these guidelines.

        Thanks and no offensive attended on my part.

        Reply

  2. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/08/21 at 12:47 PM

    This Cohen guy is a real bastard. He said some absolutely disgusting things about those who died at Hillsborough. I’m glad he is gone. The last thing US soccer needs is some talking head spewing hate and filth towards the dead. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Mr. Cohen. Why would you show sympathy for this liar?

    Reply

  3. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/21 at 1:03 PM

    I’m going to be a bit more pragmatic here as one of the keepers of this blog so to speak.

    I think it comes down to contriteness and forgiveness really. Similar situations you can point to are Imus recently and Howard Stern obviously through the course of his career.

    I would say the difference here and this is my subjectiveness is that Cohen, at least to me, appeared extremely contrite with his apology. Whereas with Imus he apologized only after he was fired and it appeared reluctant and Stern typically offers no apology. I was shocked by some of Stern’s commentary just days after September 11th yet people were so desensitized to him (or maybe in shock at the time) that his comments did not create the dialogue that they probably should have.

    So to me I think you judge Steven Cohen on his body of work and assess personal views on people making mistakes. I can see some people not willing to accept his apology and they are in the right and I can see people including Liverpool fans, accepting his apology.

    Am I sitting on the fence here — yes. But I can also accept both side of that fence as having justification.

    Reply

  4. Posted by sfshwebb on 2009/08/21 at 1:08 PM

    Matthew N,

    Mr Cohen offered an opinion shared by many (not I) that the blame for Hillsborough tragedy should be shared by many based on evidence etc… Now i personally think that he should have kept his mouth shut BUT he’s entitled to his opinion from a freedom of speech point of view. He never said anything saying that they deserved this fate etc… (which people say that he did and he did issue apologies for the inflammatory stuff) but he chose to make these remarks at a very inappropriate time.

    Where i draw the line is when his and his co-hosts families are threatened, death threats etc… Sure, by all means stop supporting WSD sponsors or stop listening to the show. Hitting someone in the wallet through non-violent protest is completely in the right of anyone who disagree’s with what Mr Cohen said but to threaten violence towards his kids is an entirely different matter.

    They lost a lot of sponsors due to the actions of these people but they kept up with what they were doing. Shouldn’t that be enough? Is violence or threats of violence really the answer? WSD is part of the reason that we can watch EPL, La Liga and Serie A this weekend on ESPN and i think its a shame that violence or the threat of is the cause of a great influential radio show going off the air.

    If People don’t like what he said, then by all means they should tune him out. People all over this country tune out Stern, O’Reilly, etc… because of the often hateful stupid, arrogant things they say but they are entitled to say as much due to freedom of speech.

    I hear where you are coming from. I just think the end of the show is a shame.

    respectfully yours
    shaun

    Reply

    • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/08/21 at 4:01 PM

      I don’t disagree with you that Mr. Cohen certainly has the right to say whatever he wishes. I also don’t ever like messing with someone’s livelihood. This guy not only lost his job at FSC but also on the podcast (I don’t know his financial situation but I hope he is going to fine). The thing is, this guy has a history of talking trash about the 96, and this isn’t something you joke around about or casually throw around insults. Mr. Cohen has repeatedly stated that it was the fault of the Liverpool fans, etc. and many other disparaging remarks directed not only towards the dead, but also towards their surviving families. While some Liverpool supporters certainly share the blame, many independent reports point out that the primary cause of the crush was due to insufficient policing and a massive organizational failure regarding the safety of match attendees. This is a sensitive subject among many Liverpool fans, and many younger fans, including myself, don’t really understand just how serious many people take the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and other related movements. They still have moments of silence and stuff like that. There are still blogs that talk about the event. For many people, this event is still fresh in their mind. For Mr. Cohen to repeatedly use the airwaves to broadcast hatred/insults/misinformation/etc., he sealed his own fate. Many Liverpool supporters took it upon themselves to email his sponsors and show them just how distasteful and disgraceful his comments were. Mr. Cohen had many chances to make nice, but oftentimes just dug himself a bigger hole. To be honest, I don’t really care what happens to him because I don’t pay attention to any of his programming, but I completely understand the position of those who do take umbrage with his speech. If Mr. Cohen was so concerned about keeping his job, he could have kept his personal comments to himself and kept to the matter at hand. Really, what point is there in debating a situation that happened twenty years ago? You’re only going to make people mad by prying open old wounds. Liverpool supporters have gotten a very negative reputation because a lot of the lies spread by the police and those who were trying to cover up for themselves. They do not take kindly to people like Mr. Cohen who continue to spread lies and misinformation. Simply put, he made his own bed and he can sleep in it. There is really no reason for someone to be bringing up a tragedy that occurred twenty years ago unless they are looking for trouble or have some sort of bone to pick. I’m not going to lose any sleep over this one, and I’m sure the people who actually participated in and organized this boycott won’t either.

      Reply

      • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/08/21 at 4:04 PM

        If you think insulting the memory of the 96 isn’t a big deal, just look at a teenage Man U supporter who had a shirt printed with the number 96 on the back with the words “Never Enough” on it this past week. Not only did the store who printed the shirt (without realizing what it meant) immediately denounce his actions, but this also garnered enough attention to get official statements of condemnation from MUFC and LFC. Play with fire and you’ll get burned. There is no reason to sling dirt over something that happened so long ago, so I have no sympathy for those who continue to stir up trouble.

        Reply

  5. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/21 at 4:49 PM

    Well stated and a good debate continuing here. I’m sure Shaun will weigh in.

    I think you do bring up a good point that I was not aware of that is his firing at Fox Soccer — is that true?

    If Mr. Cohen was fired for similar comments before–then I feel differently then if this was an isolated interest.

    Now you’re getting into a debate of the decision to shut someone down or just choose not listen.

    But to the extent that people were motivated enough to write his sponsors and to the extent that they were so motivated to remove their advertising, that’s his business mind’s fault for not realizing the business of media and how his commentary is impacted. And I concur with your comments that is it is not news (“news” being defined as timely and relevant) then it was a poor business decision on his part–not discounting poor taste, but he didn’t realize his business risk.

    Of course, I don’t ever agree with personal threats to anyone’s family of course — anyone should be condemned for that.

    Good debate, I hope it continues.

    Reply

    • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/08/21 at 5:11 PM

      Cohen was fired from Fox Football Fone In because of his hateful speech. You can read a pretty good summary of the history of the ridiculous and hateful lies this man has spread at EPL Talk (http://www.epltalk.com/steven-cohen-blames-liverpool-fans-for-hillsborough-disaster/5915).

      BTW, there have been death threats received on both sides. As far as the press knows, the only death threats being seriously investigated by the US FBI are those that were made against the protestors (namely the lead protester Antony Ananins who has an FBI case number associated with the death threats made against him).

      We all lose a little in a situation like this, but I think the people who helped to bring Cohen down have clear consciences. Like I said before, I think he is a despicable man but I never listened to his programming and I’m more of a “turn the dial” type rather than a “protest and get someone fired” type. It is a shame that one man’s irresponsible tongue can bring down such a popular podcast.

      Reply

  6. Posted by sfshwebb on 2009/08/21 at 5:34 PM

    I agree that Cohen should have shut up a long time ago. The thing is that things get out of hand in regards to death threats etc… to family and such like. Tony got death threats cause over zealous fans of WSD figured it was something to do. They are just as big a part of the problem.

    PLEASE by no means think that i’m belittling the tragedy of the 96. It was a HORRIBLE incident and i hope that it never happens again. Cohen did keep bringing up things which were best left put to bed and i do agree with you that he had a part in bringing down his downfall…but he decided that the show (WSD not FFF) should stop because of the threats to his kids and friends, not because of the show’s sponsors leaving etc… Yes he made his bed by the comments he made and though i love the show i didn’t feel too bad that he lost sponsorship as they have every right to be associated with whomever they want or not.

    I guess everything got taken too far and the show is gone. I didn’t listen to it cuase of Cohen but because he had really great pundits from Europe and South America. I enjoyed their analysis, the interviews with guest chairmen and managers from clubs around the world and various journalists. I liked his (Cohen) and Kenny’s take on teams whether i agree with them or not and to be fair they got me interested in the MLS and US soccer.

    Thanks Matthew for the commentary/debate. I appreciate it, as my opinion is a little one sided toward WSD and you bring out the other points which is good for everyone to hear.

    Reply

  7. This is one of the more honest and objective threads out there on the subject. I have to commend you all.

    Full disclosure: I’m a Liverpool fan in the U.S. Son of a Scouser and a Glaswegian. And I listened to WSD about twice a week or more for 2 or more years. I wasn’t a huge fan of the FFF but i Tivo’ed that sometimes too. I did not boycott the show. I never patronized the sponsors, but that is just because I’m a cheap bastard. I have a thick skin and combined with the fact that I am very busy with my own life and a little bit lazy, I wouldn’t have campaigned to get him off the air even though though Steven’s comments sometimes hurt me. I also knew Steven Cohen (not very well) when he worked as a publicist at a record label.

    At that time, he had the kind of job where you had to kiss a lot of ass and try and get people to do things like interview a band they’ve never heard of or write something nice about a DJ that really sucks. I’m sure he was really good at making and working his contacts and that no doubt helped him create a pretty good radio show in the end. Steven and Nick and then Kenny’s punditry was second rate. The callers we 80% boring and uninformed. But the guests they started to have on in the last year or so were top drawer. Steven also got quite passionate at times. I’ll miss that part of it.

    What I won’t miss is the bigotry that spewed from Steven’s mouth on a regular basis. Anyone can download the archived podcast and listen to it. Steven would make statements and jokes that would basically infer that LFC fans, and usually Scousers in general, were liars, thieves, morons, and basically the white trash of Britain. Americans that called in just seemed to think it was funny and Mancunians and Cockneys thought it was great brilliant of course. Many backward thinking people in Britain believe these stereotypes to be true. Much like a minority of uninformed bigots in the America think that all Blacks are lazy, or that Jews are greedy.

    Scousers are not a race of people of course, but if you have lived in England would will know that the peoples of different regions, sometimes less than 100 miles a way from each other can be like different races of people. Instantly recognizable to each other as soon as they start speaking. you can pick out where a person grew up, down to the town, sometimes a few blocks, seriously, just by listening to them. Prejudices can run deep. And of course when it comes to football especially, it can get quite tribal.

    If a broadcaster in America said or implied or even joked in a similar fashion about Blacks or Jews as what Steven said on a regular basis, Let me emphasize …..regular basis, about Scousers, they would be fired immediately by the network, disgraced on the news, and their career in broadcasting would be over (see: Don Imus et al). Making insensitive statements about the Hillsborough disaster is completely obscene. To make those statements and then to give an unapology-apology where he points fingers at the Liverpool fans in general, attempting to discredit the true victims of his hate speech by stereotyping them all as death-threat-to-children-making, free-speech-stifling automatons. AND then to go and make the same statements all over again. That is unforgivable. He wouldn’t have been allowed to get that far if we was broadcasting on a more mainstream subject. If you listen to the 5 Live or 606 or Guardian podcasts you won’t hear any of that. He only got away with it because he was in America, where the majority of his audience was not sensitive to what he was saying. Even Chelsea football club officially distanced themselves from Cohen. Enough said.

    Hillsborough is the third rail in English football. Not because of fear of Scousers ire, but because it was a monumental tragedy that changed the face of football in Britain. It was a perfect storm sort of accident that leads to fingers being pointed all over the place and all that we get in the end is tears. There were horrible and untrue things said at the time about the Liverpool fans who survived the tragedy and even about those who died in the papers like the Sun and the Times. Even some uninformed government officials heaped some insults on before the graves were even covered. After the steps were taken to prevent such disasters from happening again, the best that can be done is to just remember the fallen. The surviving families want justice and answers. They are peacefully attempting to find the truth and justice though legal channels and we should respect that and but out. I can’t think of a good reason to open wounds like that. I don’t know why Steven seems to hate Scousers so much. Maybe he was just doing it for ratings? I shouldn’t speculate but it is a good question.

    Steven was exactly the same in person as he was on-air. I didn’t care much for him i have to say. Being a Chelsea fan aside, he was a little bit annoying. Kind effeminate and always seemed “artificially hyper”. But to see that his personality on camera matched how he was in real life at least gave him credibility in my eyes. If he says he and his family received death threats from Liverpool fans, i believe him. There are assholes in every subset of society. Asshole LFC fans, sure I’ve met some of them live and in person. It was a real treat!

    I’ve also met some asshole Laker fans, Chargers fans, Red Sox fans, Christians, Muslims, Republicans, Democrats, Tories, Labours, Whites, Blacks. Every group has a minority of assholes within them. I’m not going to start hating all of them because of those few assholes. Assholes everywhere should be rounded up and sent to de-asshole-ization therapy. But we don’t live in that perfect world. If you think that there is not a single fan of the club you support that could stoop so low as to make a cowardly death threat to somebody then you are living in a dreamland. It is a sad part of human nature. The same sad part of human nature that gives us bigotry. It is a completely separate issue from the fact the Steven Cohen broadcasted bigotry under the guise of football cometary/comedy/entertainment.

    Many people have tried to pass bigotry off as free speech in the past. Many have been successful. But at the end of the day thoughtful people realize that it is dangerous for someone with a microphone to spew hate. It can lead to very bad things. The same free speech that Cohen enjoyed was used by others to try and get him off the air. Those that made death threats will be found and prosecuted I’m sure. It is a felony in most places (i.e. jail time) and the FBI is pretty good at tracking email and phone calls. Everyone on both sides of the issue who have done bad things should get what they deserve.

    I continued to listen to the podcast and tune it out because I thought the guests were great. I would normally fast forward to the guest interviews and then delete the pod. I never thought it would be possible to boot Cohen out so i just continued to enjoy the good parts of what he created and ignore the bad. I was surprised that this happened to be honest.

    I can only think that the reason so many (mostly American) fans of the show are so upset about the show being off the air is selfishness. If they could put it in perspective they might change their mind. If he was slagging off Detroit or D.C. or Watts, ot the Bronx, or East L.A., or New Orleans saying that the people who are from there are a bunch of thieves, are uneducated, etc. Americans wouldn’t put up with that. A better solution in my eyes would have been to have someone replace Steven on the pod just like they did on FFF. But of course you can’t fire the boss.

    So, at the end of the day we have (1) a void in the soccer podcast sector, (2) we have a bunch of American soccer fans misdirecting hatred at all fans of LFC and (3) we have a handful of people temporarily out of work. To that I say: (1) don’t worry it won’t last long, (2) we’re used to it and (3) join the club.

    Reply

    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2009/08/25 at 8:45 AM

      Great post Steve. Thanks for the background and a more clearheaded synopsis than mine. I guess what outraged me was the methods that were used but i must admit i reacted immediately. I enjoyed the banter and silliness but i really enjoyed the guests and that is where i feel this show was unique. I will miss it mainly for that reason.

      I agree with your last paragraph. Hopefully someone will step up soon.

      Once again, really great post.

      Reply

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