September 25, 2022

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Amarcord / US Bicentennial Championship

Among the various football events that disappeared, some were “one-off”: among them the “USA Bicentennial Championship”, which was held in the United States from May 23 to 31, 1976, deserves special mention.

This competition consisted of a four-cornered friendly invitation, organized to celebrate the bicentenary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America (dated July 4, 1776): the participating teams were Brazil, England, Italy and the “hosts” of Team America.

However, this last participant should not be confused with the US national team: quite simply, it was a league selection, in which all the fighting players in the NASL (the first division of the North American Championship at that time) were called up, regardless of nationality (in fact This team lined up – among others – Italy’s Giorgio “Long John” Chinaglia, England’s Bobby Moore and Brazil’s Pele).

However, while the Brazilian and English Football Associations do not consider the match played with Team America as an official match, FIFA considers it official, considering Team America as the main US national team.

The tournament, which was organized around an Italian group, consisted of yet another attempt to increase Americans’ interest in football, continuing a rhetoric that had already begun a few years ago with the creation of the National Football League (which saw the signings of international footballers who went to the United States to spend the last remaining of their professional life).

Unfortunately, the outcome of the photo was not what we had hoped for, so going back to talking about professional football in the “countries”, we had to wait about twenty years, when great work “on site” finally led to the growth of the American football movement, with The emergence of good local players: starting from the institutions (i.e. from youth and schools) and not from the surface (the champions at the end of their careers), we have the US national a team capable of establishing itself at the continental level (winning 7 CONCACAF titles in sixteen editions, between 1991 and 2021) and performs well at the global level (eight out of nine qualifiers in the World Championships between 1990 and 2022, with the top reaching the quarter-finals in 2002, not to mention reaching the Confederations Cup final in 2009).

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Returning to purely sporting truth, success went to irresistible Brazil (which reached the semi-finals of the Copa America in 1975, which was won by Peru), which preceded the more depressed England and Italy (both of whom did not qualify for the 1976 European Championship), as well as the “Cinderella” team America ( finally to ground zero).

After the first day he scored a clear victory with a 4-0 score (goals by Fabio Capello in the 15th minute, Paulino Polici in the penalty kick in the 22nd minute, Francesco “Cicio” Graziani in the 72nd minute and Francesco Rocca in the 84th minute) of ‘Italy with Team America and Brazil 1 -0 on England, the second round witnessed that the Brazilians overthrow the selection of stars and stripes 2-0 and Italy lost 2-3 against the English, after closing the first break, two goals ahead. (Two goals by Graziani, he scored on 15 and 18) and collected three goals within a few minutes at the start of the second half (Michael Shannon in the 47th minute, Philip Thompson in the 48th minute, and Shannon again in the 51st minute).

The last round saw another victory for Brazil, who ousted Italy 4-1: pass to top already 2′ Thanks to Capello’s flash, the Azzurri suffered the same in 29′ (Gil’s goal), then lost in the second half (Gill’s South American exploits in 52′, Zico at 73′ and Roberto Dynamite at 75′).

Therefore, England’s 3-1 victory over Team America is useless: Scotsman Stewart Scullion is the (historic in its own way) network of “hosts”.

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The final classification was: Brazil 6 points, England 4, Italy 2, Team America 0.

Giuseppe Lefraghi

Pictured: cover of the bicentennial brochure (editorial use).

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