UPDATE: We spoke with the Sixers on this matter, and they assured us Joel Embiid will be in attendance, but not playing in the game. Crisis averted! Our original story remains below:
There are certain phrases Philadelphia fans would like to avoid hearing at all costs. “Joel Embiid’s foot” is probably at the top of the list—it’s never going to come up in a positive context—and it’s probably trailed closely by, “Joel Embiid could play in a charity soccer game this weekend.”
Word comes down courtesy of BBC, who revealed the rosters for a match taking place in Cardiff Bay on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s Champions League Final. Check out who will be on both teams (bold emphasis mine):
Vítor Baia (GK), Cafu, Ciro Ferrara, Steffen Freund, Patrik Andersson, Dejan Stankovic, Youri Djorkaeff, Robert Pires, Marcel Desailly, Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs, Fabrizio Ravanelli, David Trezeguet, Gianluca Zambrotta, Eric Abidal, Marco Materazzi, Jeremy Lynch (freestyler), Clint Capela, Joel Embiid
David James (GK), Michel Salgado, Celestine Babayaro, Roberto Carlos, Gaizka Mendieta, Luis Figo, Predrag Mijatovic, Patrizia Panico, Davor Suker, Luis Garcia, Rai, Clarence Seedorf, Christian Karembeu, Steve McManaman, Deco, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Adidas Young Champions: Carmelo Anthony, Billy Wingrove (F2 freestyler), Juan Hernangomez
Embiid isn’t the only NBA player who will be involved in the festivities, but he is the only one who has dealt with serious foot issues. On his Instagram story, Embiid shared some photos of his journey overseas, including one shot with a London geotag:
There will be a lot of concern amongst fans here, and I get it. With the type of history Embiid has, throwing him into a soccer game of any sort is terrifying, and one bad tackle in the game (or one moment of overexertion from Embiid) could result in the absolute worst-case scenario for the Sixers, the fans, and for Embiid.
At the same time, I’ve been to these sort of exhibition matches. It’s mostly bunch of old, retired legends of the sport loafing around and trying trick shots, attempting to meg people, and doing lots of cheeky shit. While I don’t necessarily love the idea of Embiid participating, I don’t know that we’ll ever make it through his career alive if we’re worried this will be the thing that breaks him. The optics are definitely the worst part of this, which I guess is sort of a running theme when it comes to this franchise.
There’s also a good chance Embiid isn’t actually going to play in the game, and instead is just there for the experience. He’s a gigantic soccer fan and the sport was his first love, and now he has chance to rub elbows with some soccer legends before his favorite club plays in the pinnacle of club soccer this weekend.
Let’s hope that’s the case, because as much as I’d like to see Embiid’s huge, goofy ass winding up to attempt a bicycle kick, I don’t need the accompanying stress in my life.