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The Daily Dirt, June 28: Cold as Ice

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Iceland wins our hearts

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England v Iceland - Round of 16: UEFA Euro 2016 Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

‘‘England leave as a national sporting embarrassment”

“Humiliating defeat condemns England to exit”

“Heading home in humiliation: Glum-faced England flops on way back as inquest into Hodgson's shambolic tournament begins”

These are just a few of the headlines in England this morning as Iceland upset England 2-1 in the Euro 2016 Round of 16. Upset... yes, it was definitely an upset. However, from the ESPN broadcast to the media reaction, this has been overblown and is insulting to what Iceland has accomplished.

It is a shock whenever a nation the size of Iceland can compete with the best in the world. However, their football federation has invested intelligently in player development and produced this generation of players. This generation nearly qualified for the last World Cup, losing to Croatia in the playoffs.

In qualification for this year’s Euros, they defeated the Netherlands both at home and in Amsterdam. They are not the plucky part-timers some have cast them as, they are all playing at respected clubs.

Since 2010, their FIFA ranking has risen from triple digits to #34. The US is only at #31, by the way. Maybe we should look at this development plan that has taken a tiny country to become one of our peers, huh? The level of coaching education Iceland has implemented is truly impressive, with over 40% of their coaches qualifying for the UEFA ‘B’ License.

Instead of recognizing that Iceland is one of the better teams in Europe at this stage, England is in histrionics at losing. This is not to say that England has been in good form. Hodgson should have been replaced after the World Cup. The criticisms of him are valid, he never seemed to figure out the best lineup or the best system of play. England has its own issues to fix as a national team, and they have nothing to do with the opposition.

However hard it is for them to fathom, England has to realize that losing to Iceland is not the embarrassment they think it is. And that’s not an insult of where England is as a national team, it’s a compliment to the hard work Iceland has done to climb up to this level.


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