While soccer in the USA doesn’t attract a fraction of the drama and controversy as professional basketball or football, the rest of the world has enough drama to spread around. Organized soccer isn’t even all that old, with rules being drawn up in England at Cambridge University in 1848. Yet, it strongly dominates international sporting interest and enthusiasm, attracting millions of soccer fans across the world to watch soccer.
Being the sport that attracts the most international interest, it’s no surprise that soccer in the USA pales in comparison with the larger international community. But, in the USA, we definitely know who Usain Bolt is. The reigning world record sprinter from Jamaica has decided to trade in his track spikes for soccer boots and people are freaking out.
As a trial player for the Central Coast Mariners, an Australian soccer team, Usain Bolt made his first starting appearance and scored two goals to help them toward a 4-0 victory. Mere days later, he was made to do a drug test by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. As only a trial player, having competed in one debut match (a friendly match no less), he was understandably furious.
“I’ve retired from track and field, I’m working to become a footballer. But look at this! How am I going to get drug tested today? How? I’m not even a professional footballer yet,” he said via Instagram video to his millions of followers.
Even though a trial player — not an actual member of the team — the Anti-Doping Authority reserves the right to test any athlete. A term which they broadly define as “a person who competes in sport.”
With all this drama surrounding Usain Bolt, you’d think it couldn’t get any better, but it did. A day after the test, the reigning champion — Valetta FC — of Malta’s professional soccer league offered Bolt a two-year contract to join the team.
“A champion is always welcome, and at Valletta FC, we believe nothing is impossible,” said Valetta FC director Ghasston Slimen.
The Mariners reserve the right to reject the offer from Valetta, even though Bolt isn’t an officially signed player on their team. Many are calling it a strategy to pressure the Mariners into making a decision on whether they want to sign Bolt or not. Either way, it’s been an interesting weekend for Usain Bolt and the days to follow will only be more interesting. Stay tuned.