Despite the monumental efforts of Tim Howard — USMNT goalie extraordinaire and the only reason the score in the U.S./Belgium match wasn’t approximately 50 to one — the U.S. were indeed eliminated by Belgium, two-to-one, at approximately 6:30 p.m. East Coast Time. It was a miserable match, with the U.S. looking like they had all agreed that keeping possession of the ball was a bad thing. On the bright side, this means that we can stop talking about whether or not soccer is finally coming to America for another four years, and whether or not soccer is a sign of the country’s degradation trip, which it’s not. It’s just a sport. People play it. Sociopolitical discourse need not apply.
One thing that almost never gets brought up in the soccer discussion is how much teams actually make when they play for the World Cup, and how much they have to pay to be in it. In addition to being a massive undertaking on behalf of the host country (and the host country’s palm-greasing industry), the players aren’t being funded solely on a love for the game — FIFA may be corrupt, but they’re not the NCAA.
First, some numbers. The total prize money for the 2014 World Cup is $575 million, and in order to get into the tournament, each country’s team has to pay in $1.5 million. After that, the teams are paid depending on when they’re eliminated, so the USMNT wound up in the Round of 16 bracket, rather than the Group stage bracket, like Ghana — who recently requested that they receive the money early rather than at the end of the tournament, which is customary — or Portugal.