Radio silence – WSD goes dark

Steven Cohen

It’s right there in black and green on the show’s Web site.

World Soccer Daily is no more.

Friday’s show was the last one they’ll be making, and to be honest, I don’t have the heart to download it.

“The hate and threats that has been raging from the Liverpool contingent in the last five months, for me it’s over. I’m not going to put my family in this position any more,” show founder Steven Cohen said in Friday’s final show.

I can’t decide how to feel here.

A hint of sadness

I am a relatively new fan of the beautiful game. Sure the World Cups have been getting my attention since USA ’94, but I’ve only really caught the soccer bug over the last three years or so.

And the day after I got my iPod, I went on iTunes in search for a soccer show.

World Soccer Daily was there, front and center.

Cohen and his co-host, Kenny Hassan, helped build my knowledge of the English game, it’s players, culture and history.

For countless hours of entertainment, a few good natured e-mails and helping to foster my love for the game, I’ll be forever grateful.

A hint of anger

But the reason the show is dead, Cohen’s war of words with Liverpool supporters, ticks me off.

He’s a Chelsea supporter and a Liverpool hater. Three minutes worth of listening is all it took to get those two things sorted out.

But his contention that “thousands of ticketless Liverpool fans” caused the death of 96 people in the Hillsborough Disaster– a contention that runs in direct opposition to the English governement’s Taylor Report – has riled Liverpool fans on many occasions.

The most recent led to a worldwide boycott by Liverpool FC fans of the show and all of its sponsors and the tensions between Cohen and the boycotters has been rising ever since.

The fact is that he’s wrong.

I know that all government reports aren’t gospel. I’ve read the Warren Commission report, for one.

But the Taylor Report recommended all-seater stadiums and reforms on barriers and crowd control at matches while absolving fans from blame for the incident.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened. So that report is all anyone who wasn’t there has to go on.

In that light, his blaming supporters of a club for the horrible and painful deaths of 96 of their own fans is out of bounds.

This is America, home of free speech. I’m a reporter, so there is no greater supporter of the First Amendment than I am.

But a sincere apology, rather than the laughable, read from a prepared statement then ball it up on microphone approach that Cohen chose, might have ended this nonsense.

As a radio host, he got paid for his opinions. But those opinions invoke other opinions. And when they clash on such a deep and personal level, boycotts, angry e-mails and letters to image-conscious sponsors ensue.

At the end of the day, passion, one of the things I love most about soccer, is what killed my favorite radio show on the subject.

Steven Cohen is a stubborn, prideful man. And that pride was his downfall.

It’s why he’s gone from Fox Football Fone-in. And it’s why there’s no Monday, August 24th edition of WSD for me to listen to tonight.

Filling the vacuum

The death of this show, and the up-in-the-air status of my other favorite program, Special1TV, is clouding what should be a glorious time for U.S. soccer fans.

We have EPL games in HD on ESPN! That’s awesome!

But we still need someone on the airwaves, fostering interest in the sport.

I knew everything there was to know about football, baseball, basketball and tennis when I tuned in to WSD for the first time in 2008.

Thanks to them, I can hold up my end of an intelligent conversation. Thanks to them, I read Chuck Culpepper’s excellent book, “Bloody Confused.” Thanks to them, I play “I Know the Score,” I know who Tim Vickery and Martin Tyler are and, thanks to World Soccer Daily, every so often, I call soccer by its proper name, football.

What I’m hoping for is that some new show will rise from the ashes. Some other place where young fans of the game can “get stuck in.”

Some place where pride and hate can’t spoil the beautiful game.

The verdict

Some Liverpool supporters are claiming victory today.

But really, the only thing the death of WSD proves is that pride can kill anything.

And love him or hate him, Cohen’s show leaves a gaping hole in the media landscape that American soccer fans are now looking to fill.

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