Canadian manager John Herdman yells during a match against Belgium on Nov. 23, 2022. Nov 23, 2022; Al Rayyan, Qatar; Canada head coach John Herdman yells during the first half of a group stage match against Belgium during the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

In this day and age of sports, viewers and readers have so much more access to profane comments from those involved than ever before. Whether that’s with crowd mics, field mics, hot mics, player mics, player interviews, fan interviews, aware broadcasters, televised locker-room speeches and celebrations, press conferences, or even relayed reporting, it’s quite often possible to find profanity in sports.

This is perhaps more of a change in the media landscape than a change in sports, though, as there are plenty of past accounts of profane comments from players and coaches that just weren’t widely broadcast at the time. And it’s worth keeping in mind that sports profanity isn’t always as significant as similar comments in outside arenas might be, especially when that’s coming as part of a motivational dialogue.

Canadian men’s soccer manager John Herdman provided the latest example of that this week. On Thursday, Herdman discussed “F— Croatia!” comments he made in a post-match huddle with the team (their next 2022 FIFA World Cup opponent). He made those comments in a live BBC interview Wednesday after Canada‘s 1-0 loss to Belgium.

On Thursday, Herdman (seen above yelling on the sidelines during that Belgium match), explained why he said that on air and what he meant. Here’s video of that:

And a transcription from TSN’s Matthew Scianitti:

Two key sentences there, on how Herdman was being honest in relaying what he told his team, and on what he meant with the “F— Croatia!”:

“And when you’re asked a question, ‘What did you say in that huddle?’, it’s what I said. …I mean no disrespect to the Croatian team and Croatian people, but at the end of the day, it’s a mindset Canada’s got to have if we’re going to have three points against one of the top teams in the world.”

From this corner, that really nails it. There’s nothing wrong with being polite, but coaches in particular may sometimes need to go beyond that in motivational speeches, whether internally with their team (which still often winds up being reported or broadcast) or in public to the media. And while some hate profanity in any circumstance, it can be an effective way to illustrate the vehemence of a point.

But especially in an actual international context, it’s vital to keep in mind that this is all just a game, and not actually a real comment on a country or its people. Herdman addressed that well in his explanation. If a coach was actually ranting about another country being terrible, that might be a cause for concern. But “F*** Croatia” as the attitude Canada needs to take into their next World Cup match (Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern) certainly seems reasonable.

[Matthew Scianitti on Twitter; photo from Yukihito Taguchi/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.