Tough Love For European Soccer

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - April 20, 2005
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It seems we owe the drunken lout next to us an apology. His beer-swilled profanity seeming almost quaint in reflection. Yeah, the ref may have been paid off, the center fielder is probably a bum and the manager’s maternal figure could very well have spent a few years catering to the carnal appetites of sailors. But thanks to the fans of the Italian soccer team Inter Milan, we now know what real love of sport is all about.

It’s not about buying merchandise or encouraging swift play, it’s about passion. If you’re not trying to burn down your own stadium, you’re nothing but a poser. A bandwagon fan who only uses his road flares for something stupid. Like lighting a road.

Boston fans, you suck.

Yankees followers are even worse.

Real fans wave swastikas and toss bananas at African players. And flares, chains, knives, tire irons and motorscooters from the second tier (Inter Milan vs. Atalanta 2001).

That’s support, my friends.

We Americans can never call ourselves true sports fans. Sure we like to walk around with our John Wayne swagger and pretend to be the cock of the walk, but ask any GM worker about the subtle nuances of The World’s Game or the delicate humor of Benny Hill, and they’re lost. Heck, we can’t even figure out how a bottle of lager applied expertly to the temple of a Chelsea schoolteacher improves our team’s chance of winning.

The United States may be the only remaining military super power, but that does not mean we cannot learn a thing or two from our European brothers.

Important dates in English soccer history:

1314: King Edward II bans the game.

1579: After the start of a match against the students of Cambridge, the townsmen of Chesterton proceeded to assault their opponents with sticks while driving them into the river.

1843: Two hundred soldiers and 50 policemen are brought in to patrol the ropes at a Preston North End vs. Sunderland match.

1905: Several fans are tried for hooliganism, including a drunk and disorderly 70-year-old woman, after a match between Preston North End and Blackburn.

1909: Six thousand spectators become involved in a riot at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Fiftyfour police officers are injured.

2002: A cop nearly bleeds to death during an encounter with 900 rioting fans. The mob turned over cars, smashed homes and tore up the streets to use the cement as weapons. 

On to something more civilized:

UH basketball coach Riley Wallace is set to sign a two-year extension to his contract. Good for him and the university. He deserves it.

Yes, Riley has his critics. We’ve heard the “he’s barely a .500 coach” argument for some time, but this ignores the fact that UH is the winningest team in the WAC during the last five years. Let us not forget that the program was still feeling the after-effects of two years on NCAA probation and drawing only 1,500 fans when Wallace came to town.

Riley’s biggest problem is that he is the victim of his own success. Everyone thinks you can flip a switch and another A.C. or Savo appears. That just doesn’t happen. And if it wasn’t for Wallace, it may never have happened.

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