Charles Barkley wants to make it clear: This U.S. soccer jersey he’s never going to wear (or fit into) is a women’s jersey. He’d never be caught dead with a USMNT jersey.
Maybe Chuck needs to catch up on his country’s soccer teams.
Earlier this week, U.S. Soccer announced an eight-year deal with Turner Sports and HBO Max to broadcast USMNT and USWNT matches, completely altering the U.S. Soccer TV landscape. While the biggest matches, like World Cups and Gold Cups, are not included in the deal, it’s a seismic shift from the days of watching U.S. teams play on ESPN and Fox.
During Thursday night’s Inside The NBA on TNT, Ernie Johnson announced the deal and gave everyone on the set — Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Barkley — a U.S. soccer jersey.
Barkley immediately let his feelings be known about the USMNT.
Charles Barkley USMNT Comments
“The men’s team sucks, they do,” Barkley said. “The men gotta do better, man. We’re the United States of America, we should not be bad at any sport.”
Barkley’s words are incredible right now pic.twitter.com/ZTSRqT1pKL
— Douglas Reyes-Ceron (@dreyesceron) March 4, 2022
Clearly Barkley hasn’t paid attention to the USMNT since 2017, when the team tripped at the final hurdle of World Cup qualifying. The current USMNT, while not exactly setting Concacaf on fire in World Cup qualifying, is loaded with top European talent and ranked 13th in the world, just 12 behind the USWNT.
Not that we’d expect Chuck to pay attention to soccer — he barely pays attention to the NBA — but we can’t let this hostility go without calling him out. Of course, the women are still better, but it’s OK to support both teams.
Fortunately, Barkley had some good things to say about the women’s national team.
“Shoutout to the women for finally getting equal pay,” he said. “I’m glad to be wearing this female jersey.”
At least it looks like Chuck is on good terms up with U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, who will be battling disgraced former USSF president Carlos Cordeiro to be the next USSF president in Saturday’s election.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) March 4, 2022
Hopefully Barkley isn’t called upon to do analysis for the USMNT and USWNT, though we wouldn’t mind seeing Chuck and Clint Dempsey on the same set together.
Turner Sports and HBO Max will begin broadcasting U.S. matches in 2023 on TNT, TBS and HBO Max. For more on the deal, click here. Fun fact: Ernie Johnson was once a studio host for the World Cup back when TNT had the U.S. broadcast rights back in 1990.
This isn’t the first time TNT’s NBA crew has talked soccer. Back during Turner Sports’ disastrous run airing the Champions League, Stu Holden and Maurice Edu joined Ernie, Chuck, Shaq and Kenny to try to play soccer.
Chuck and Shaq can actually strike a ball better than you might expect.
While the TNT crew gets back to trying to put together coherent thoughts about basketball, the U.S. teams will be back in action before you know it. The USMNT plays Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica to finish out World Cup qualifying at the end of March (not on TNT), while the USWNT just announced a two-game friendly series with Uzbekistan.
' !USA vs. Uzbekistan
USA vs. Uzbekistan
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) March 3, 2022
Wonder if Barkley can find Uzbekistan on a map.