One Nation, One Team -- a tainted slogan for U.S. Soccer

By Paul Gardner

I, like you, have to live with the daily insults to our intelligence provided by the public relations and marketing and advertising brotherhood. Their commercials, their advertisements, their slogans, their buzzwords. Above all, with their relentless stupidity.

Of course soccer has been caught up in this brainless wordmongering. It can all be dismissed as harmless, but that’s an escape route that doesn’t work for me, as I value words. I guess I respect them. I’m never happy when they get mistakenly misused, I grind my teeth when they are deliberately used to mislead or misinform. In that sense I am a disciple of George Orwell -- his essay “Politics and the English Language,” a cautionary tale when it was published in 1946, seems even more ominous today.

Orwell was at pains to point out how governments -- and not just the totalitarian ones -- had enlisted and debased language to dress lies up as the truth.

Today we are drowned in the hype and the distortions of PR and advertising and marketing. It seems that nothing can be sold or marketed without an accompanying, and usually fatuous, catch-phrase.

I could very easily fill the rest of this column with a catalogue of these nonsensical words (people are, I believe, paid rather a lot of money to come up with them). Rather than give them publicity they don’t deserve, let me concentrate on just one, maybe two, that have invaded the American soccer world.

A year or two back I noticed that the U.S. Soccer Federation was using a slogan. It read: One nation, one team. There was soon a “One Nation, One Team” scarf available. For a price. And shirts and T-shirts, and all that stuff.

I found the slogan highly offensive. I still do. Now, I find that New York City FC has a version of it. One City, One Club.

And I feel now that enough is enough. The reason for my distaste?

I don’t know who started this “One Nation” business -- the Chicago Bears might be responsible -- but I could wish that those responsible for introducing it to soccer had a longer memory, or at least a greater awareness of history. Listen ...

Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!

I want to believe that there is no need to spell out where that frenetically shouted slogan, that aggressively threatening chant, originated. But I’m wrong. Sadly the need is there. The swastika and the goose step are the background to those words. Inevitably they corrupt the silly-clever phrases -- One Nation, One Team, and One City, One Club -- that the PR geniuses have foisted on soccer.

The blemish is easily correctable, I should think. I have total faith in the slogan-makers ability to quickly conjure up alternative banalities ... that are free of the taint of the Nuremberg Rallies.

52 comments about "One Nation, One Team -- a tainted slogan for U.S. Soccer ".
  1. David Mont, April 4, 2016 at 6:46 a.m.

    As soon as I saw this One Nation, One Team slogan for the first time, the very first thing that came to my mind was Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer! I still cringe every time I see this One Nation, One Team idiocy.

  2. Ric Fonseca replied, April 6, 2016 at 11:46 p.m.

    And you can add the following: Arbeit macht frei! Was posted over the gates at everfy concentration camp. (trnasl: "work makes you free..."

  3. GA Soccer Forum, April 4, 2016 at 9:33 a.m.

    I think you are just beating around the bush ---- US Soccer is a complete disaster right now. A complete and utter mess. The slogan sucks, but the soccer is worse-- The US Women are the one positive and even they played like dog poop until Loyd pushed forward and played like a freaking monster. Their style of play is no different then the rest, bang the ball forward and lets try to have athletes win soccer games. It works at u8 - u12, but that is it.

    I posted this elsewhere, but US soccer right now is a mess from u8s to the senior teams. small sided mandates that don't align with age mandates (pushing kids to a bigger field faster), age mandates and the changing of the youth matrix, senior and youth teams not showing progress etc ---

    Its time to wake up -- my list please add to it (In no particular order) – this is just from the past year
    1. Women playing world cup on turf
    2. The Hope Solo debacle
    3. CONCACAF and FIFA Scandal
    4. The JK experience
    5. US loses to Jamaica in Gold Cup
    6. US u17 World cup failure and Richie Williams
    7. The u23 debacle with Herzog and failure to make Olympics (which nobody wants to attend anyway)
    8. US soccer announces Age Mandate with age matrix and small sided mandates
    9. US soccer changes age matrix
    10. US Soccer age matrix is different for DA and Youth soccer
    11. US Soccer files lawsuit against USWNT to clarify collective bargaining status between 2 parties
    12. US Soccer releases players private info in lawsuit
    13. Youth Council Technical Working Group issues statement that US soccer has had insufficient dialogue with them and is not transparent
    14. US Soccer have to cancel USWNT game in hawaii over unplayable surface and field conditions
    15. US Soccer announce girls DA with limited discussions prior with ECNL
    16. US women files wage discrimination action vs US Soccer

  4. R2 Dad replied, April 4, 2016 at 2:15 p.m.

    yeah, I get this long list but to be fair (#7), columbia's men's team is ranked #8 and the US is #30--sounds like the U23s got spanked by a tiny football nation that knows more about the game than we do, and rightly so.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, April 6, 2016 at 12:58 p.m.

    You didn't list the MNT loss to Mexico in the Confederations Cup playoff game last fall.

  6. Scott Johnson, April 4, 2016 at 11:22 a.m.

    The NYCFC's use of that slogan is amusing, as it rather pointedly ignores the existence of the Red Bulls...

  7. Kent James replied, April 4, 2016 at 1:35 p.m.

    My guess is that the Red Bulls are the intended target of NYCFC's slogan...(part of the NY v NJ battle)

  8. Scott Johnson replied, April 4, 2016 at 4:13 p.m.

    True--maybe if there were only one team in the NYC area (picking the best players from both rosters), it might be competitive. :)

  9. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, April 4, 2016 at 7:40 p.m.

    Yeah hilarious comment - consider RBNY won the supporters shield last year, I don't think they needed any NYCFC players.

  10. Ginger Peeler, April 4, 2016 at 12:25 p.m.

    Amen, Paul and David!

  11. Raymond Weigand, April 4, 2016 at 1:45 p.m.


  12. John Mcdermott, April 4, 2016 at 1:46 p.m.

    US Soccer would do well to expend less energy on this kind of marketing nonsense and devote more energy to finding a solid American coach who will get that "One Team" qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, something which is by no means a certainly under the current leadership of Klinsmann and his (mostly-German)staff. By the way, have they fired Andi Herzog yet?

  13. Michael Albers, April 4, 2016 at 1:49 p.m.


    Usually I like what you have to write, but in this case, I could not disagree with you more. The genius of the American experiment is that we are able to make one out of many. If you are haunted by European history and Nazis, perhaps you need to spend some time reading American history and learning the beauty of what we have done in this country.

  14. Ginger Peeler replied, April 5, 2016 at 11:40 a.m.

    Don't forget the KuKluxKlan and segregation! Beauty? Thanks, All American and Soccer Bloke for your spot-on replies to Michael.

  15. Ric Fonseca replied, April 5, 2016 at 2:28 p.m.

    I will have to admit that when I first saw the "One Team One Nation" slogan, there was a nagging thought in the back of my mind that is until while watching a History channel on WWII, and then saw the German slogan, did it hit me like a ton of bricks, Also as a retired professor of history, as Ginger said above, it is pitiful that it seems as if only those of us who lived from the '40's through the '90s can rightfully say, "seen that, been there and done that." As a history professor I cringe when my young college students that are taking US or World civ history courses are literally and really ignorant of not so much of historical events going back into the turn of the century, the so called millennials, who know more about what is going on with Star Wars, than what happened during the 20th Century! As for the US Soccer slogan, this sort of reminds me when the young MLS teams, especially Washington UTD came out with their logo, one that was so much like some of the WWII German military logos that they were forced to change it a bit. And lastly, Thank you and kudos to AL above for saying it like it is and should be!!!

  16. Raymond Weigand, April 4, 2016 at 1:51 p.m.

    So many issues ... just when the USWNT gave us something to cheer - they turn around and sue the Federation. Perhaps the women's lawsuit will save US soccer by introducing a wider FIFA investigation to include incompetence.

  17. Soccer Bloke, April 4, 2016 at 2 p.m.

    Like, Michael, massacring the continent's original inhabitants, for example.

  18. Raymond Weigand replied, April 4, 2016 at 2:08 p.m.

    I was also remembering the history of the trail of tears.

  19. Al Gebra replied, April 4, 2016 at 4:17 p.m.

    Amen to the original legal aliens

  20. Allan Lindh, April 4, 2016 at 2:14 p.m.

    Well played, Mr Gardner

  21. R2 Dad, April 4, 2016 at 2:43 p.m.

    Hmmm. Bit of a stretch IMHO. Since PG is such a pendant about words, maybe he should be more concerned about the actual words used themselves. The phrase is not "One Fascist Nation, One National Socialist Team". Boring, derivative tripe from US Soccer, yes. Offensive, possibly, to anyone over 70 who remembers reading, hearing and living those words. Everyone else, not so much. Unfortunately, even though we've learned the lesson about fascism the US has never lived that transition so can't really know where that line in the sand is drawn. Germany does (or still should). I'm much more worried about the actual politics of personality that have gripped this nation, since we seem to no longer be a nation of ideas and laws. Maybe PG can poll the candidates on their thoughts about US Soccer and the direction of soccer in this country?

  22. R2 Dad replied, April 4, 2016 at 2:46 p.m.

    OK, maybe PG is the suspended ornamental jewel of SoccerAmerica, but it's actually "pedant", you pedants.

  23. Joe Linzner, April 4, 2016 at 3:06 p.m.

    I find this particular post a sad reflectin of pedantic excess. First of all "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!" translates a bit differently as it says, at the risk of being a bit pedantic myself .. "One People, One Empire, One Leader". As far as I am concerned "One Nation, One Team" does not in any way evoke the Nazi Propaganda machine of the 30s 40s of the last century. No wonder that we are going over the edge with political correctness. Soon the spectators will no longer be allowed to yell USA, USA, because that is too nationalistic, whence comes the word NAZI. Or rooting for your own team, which of course is too TRIBAL. There comes a time when we look for articles upon which to yack is too silly and perhaps downright dumb. Sort of a Dark Comedy. Ridiculous!

  24. Brian Something, April 4, 2016 at 3:18 p.m.

    One Nation, One Team implies One Payscale.

  25. Raymond Weigand replied, April 4, 2016 at 3:52 p.m.

    Hah! Keenly shared.

  26. ROBERT BOND, April 4, 2016 at 4:08 p.m.

    comes en espanol, as well.....

  27. Andrew Kear, April 4, 2016 at 5:06 p.m.

    One nation, one team, and one idiot coach named Klinsmann.

  28. Scott Johnson replied, April 4, 2016 at 6:48 p.m.

    Nazis.... Germans... Klinsmann! Now it all makes sense. (Not).

  29. John Soares, April 4, 2016 at 5:18 p.m.

    It must have been a VERY slow day for Paul. Yet he did his job. One silly statement gets people going and leads to ridiculous extremes. Hey; How come no comments on how much "Homeland Security" sounds so much like "Fatherland Security".....just asking:)

  30. ROBERT BOND replied, April 6, 2016 at 10:32 a.m.

    bestimmt! Heimatsicherheitdienst....

  31. Mark Botterill, April 4, 2016 at 5:29 p.m.

    Paul, I know you are assigned to be the designated "pot stirrer" but really comparing US Soccer's/Nike Marketing Department to the Third Reich?

    You are out of step with your intelligent readership talk to me about something that will address the health of our game instead of your vitriolic musings.

    American's coaching Americans? Dutch bench last week, Blind, Van Nistelroy, Berkamp, Van Basten...long way to go but a legacy building initiative. I hear you... great players don't make great coaches, understood but at least it's a step to building a staff that can connect and articulate with their nation's player personnel. Give me a coach who is understood buy his/her players any day vs someone who can wax lyrically about soccer.

    Where is Ricky Davis, Tony Sanneh, Brian McBride,
    Balboa, Wynalda, or better yet Porter, Marsch... et all.

  32. Alvaro Bettucchi, April 4, 2016 at 6:15 p.m.

    I can understand those that have lived and were subject to what happened during World War II, could dislike the above advertisements. But the majority have no knowledge of the 1940's history, and can be forgiven. On the subject of advertisement, I am truly disappointed with the new USSF logo. We all recognize it represents the United States, but it needs a soccer ball somewhere. We need our sport to be shown on a shirt, or the pants, or....yes, on the cap. I, for one will not buy the new one, but stick to the old. At least I will advertise the sport of soccer.

  33. Raymond Weigand replied, April 4, 2016 at 6:29 p.m.

    The new logo looks like the front of a steam locomotion train ... the soccer ball could be placed on top where the it will help define the whole train motif. Our style of play also is reminiscent of a time when trains were the primary mode of cross country transportation.

  34. Jogo Bonito, April 4, 2016 at 7:46 p.m.

    I had a friend point this out a while ago and since then I have found the slogan uncomfortable and immature. I imagine the boardroom high 5's that followed after the idea was introduced over a few mocciatos. Great call by PG. The ever-present conscious of American soccer strikes again. Love this guy ... Long live Paul Gardner!

  35. Valerie Metzler, April 4, 2016 at 8:55 p.m.

    I don't like the slogan, either. Doesn't every country have ONE team? Does Canada have more than one national team? Men and women, yes. But, if that were the point, then the slogan should read One Nation, Two Teams. It's a vacuous slogan, in my opinion. Of course! we have one team! What nation on earth doesn't just have one national team?

  36. ROBERT BOND replied, April 5, 2016 at 9:05 a.m.

    er, Valerie-UK has 6.......

  37. Ginger Peeler replied, April 5, 2016 at 11:25 a.m.

    I see what you did, there, Robert. And I get England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who each have their own sports governing bodies (and I had thought the USA was convoluted)...but who are the other two?

  38. ROBERT BOND replied, April 6, 2016 at 10:29 a.m.

    oops, 5-Gibralter.....

  39. Al Gebra, April 4, 2016 at 9:08 p.m.

    Dear "Fire Paul Gardner Now" and your brothers,

    Why do so? To give you satisfaction at the expense of others. Just don't read his articles. Simple solution for simple minds.
    Mein Gott. Was für ein kleines Leben, das Sie haben

  40. Stevie G, April 4, 2016 at 9:51 p.m.

    OH PLEASE. Surely there must be something else more interesting going on in the footy world than this... Really...

  41. Joe Linzner, April 5, 2016 at 8 a.m.

    Ist mir ueberhaupt verdammt laecherlich! Auch 'ne echte Scheisse!

  42. Ginger Peeler, April 5, 2016 at 8:04 a.m.

    "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it". I am stunned by those who have written me and my colleagues in our 70s off; that we can be excused for being alarmed by this jingoistic slogan because we're the last of the Americans from the 40s who lived through World War II..,and it's really no big deal. Obviously, our schools are doing a terrible job teaching history...I don't think they even bother teaching Civics anymore since so much of the public obviously knows very little about how our country works. Let me assure you that you would not be enjoying the freedoms and rights you are taking for granted every day as a US citizen if we had not entered that war and fought it on 2 fronts. And you can thank us for ending World War II, but at an enormous cost of life for all sides and the total devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We were warned back then to be ever vigilant, because another charismatic person could arise and foment fear and hatred, just as Hitler did, in the right social climate. It's NOT ancient history. And if you continue to dismiss what we're trying to tell you, you do so at your own peril and at the cost of our county's conscience.

  43. Ginger Peeler, April 5, 2016 at 8:11 a.m.

    And that is NOT my reaction to the soccer slogan, it is my reaction to so many of you discounting those of us who lived through World War II who expressed our concerns.

  44. Al Charod, April 5, 2016 at 11:40 a.m.

    When i saw the title of this, I actually thought that "wow someone finally has the same feelings as to why our USMNT stinks all the time", but it was far off actually reading it.

    IMO, From the Title, I thought the writer was going to go into depth on how the USMNT and the USSF seem to be ok with basically whitewashing the team in both men and the womens game. JK seems to alway have head scratching choices to his camps and leaves out others.

    He contradicts himself when saying that he wants the Inner City youth to play and love the game, yet he keeps some of the best players off the pitch. We seem to always stuggle with CB, yet he never brings in a Farrell, or Edu, We stink at Attacking mid, yet no Feilhaber or even a Freddy Adu who kids LOVE still today, just go to the Tampa Bay Rowdies game...

    The USSF will tell you to put your faith in a Gatt, Morris, Miazga, Pulasic when these kids have done NOTHING... Agudelo scored at 17 vs ARGENTINA, Freddy Adu has always played on another level with the National team, Feilhaber has saved our butts on more than one occasion under Bradley, Davies was lights out at the Azteca.... but where are they? They sit at home while our team bullies CONCACAF after a must win match where we should never have been in the first place. There are no pure athletic men on this team, just good little soldiers who do whatever they are told... including playing out of position.

  45. Ginger Peeler replied, April 5, 2016 at 12:13 p.m.

    Al, you said it all! There are people Jurgen is, apparently, never going to call into camp or the team who play consistently well every game. It's embarrassing that he doesn't even give them a chance. I guess he just doesn't like some, as with Landon Donovan. It's easier if he never gives those players any consideration. If he plays them, and they're really good, he'll have to tell us that the players he actually goes with "are just a tiny bit better." No, he obviously has a personal aversion to some players. Jurgen has lost the respect of a lot of the public; more seriously, he's lost the respect of his team (again). They played that second game against Guatemala for themselves, in spite of him.

  46. Al Charod, April 5, 2016 at 2:27 p.m.

    Absolutely Ginger Peeler. A few years ago I tried to start a Petition called "let the fans see them play" it detailed in having a USMNT Friendly with JK's XI vs a B side XI with more ethnic players and players who have proven their worth with the team despite having lackluster club play... Again remember Adu played for 2nd tier in Turkey, got a surprise call up, and made the USMNT look silly with his superior vision and skills keeping the ball and attacking. We deserve to see that the USMNT, the USSF, Klinsmann, and the fans who support all this BS have literally no idea when it comes to athleticism and truth talent.

    Remember, most fans of Soccer here became fans because they weren't talented enough to play other sports, became social outcast to playing football, baseball, basketball, so they think they know more about the game because they watched when it was still in it's infancy before becoming the explosive sport it is becoming here. At the end of the day they still have no clue what it takes to be uniquely different in talent, they just go with the "JK won a world cup and got 3rd as a manager" not even looking into the fact that the team hated him, and was hated even more so at Bayern Munich.

  47. Ginger Peeler, April 5, 2016 at 2:56 p.m.

    I remember Adu coming in to play for an injured Altidore when Bob Bradley was still the coach. Freddy was incredible! I thought that, at last, he would be recognized with playing time. And then they fired Bradley. Freddy seems to be one of those players who plays best under pressure. So sad.

  48. Al Charod replied, April 6, 2016 at 12:16 p.m.

    I agree,
    It will take a huge loss to finally realize that some of these players have no place on the National Team. JK is trying to Change this team to fit Euro styles...which any person with a brain knows...Americans have our own style of play and are gritty as all hell.

  49. ROBERT BOND, April 6, 2016 at 10:31 a.m.

    going to look at the field tonight, pretty sure they put it up in Spanish, too, which makes this topic even more ironic, given the lack of development of Hispanic players here......

  50. Joe Wilson, April 6, 2016 at 12:55 p.m.

    One Nation, One Team has always made me cringe a little. Primarily because it's a lazy and lame slogan though. But if there was every a country that it applied less to it is us! There's probably no other country that has so many citizens that care more about another team (Mexico) than in the USA. Let alone all the other immigrants that take equal pride in their home countries. Our slogan should be more along the lines of us attempting to be ascendant, even if we're not going such a great job at it.

  51. ROBERT BOND, April 7, 2016 at 9:04 a.m.

    Ginger, we Puerto Rico, American Samoa, & the USVI not part of the "one"! the spanish slogan worse , Paul, one nation, un equipo=nike.....

  52. Ginger Peeler, April 8, 2016 at 11:33 a.m.

    As residents of our Commonwealths and Territories, you (and people born in Guam and the Marianas Islands) are all citizens of the United States but, as I understand it, you cannot vote in any of our national elections. Seems to me I remember a major push in the 60s (I think) to bring Puerto Rico to statehood. I don't know why it never happened. We brought Hawaii and Alaska to statehood, and we gave the Panama Canal Zone back to Panama. That leaves you guys in a kind of never-never land, doesn't it?

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