The Soccer Game Ain't Done 'Til Your Eyes Are Burning...
Type the words "soccer riot" into a YouTube search and you get 311 entries.
I'd seen cable news video of a melee in Columbia the other day--it was in the radio studio, so the volume was down and I didn't get the backstory. The footage was pretty damn compelling, though:
I found the backstory via some Google elbow-grease:
"A punch-up between two rival coaches has sparked a riot at a soccer match in Colombia, in which about 60 people were injured. Tempers frayed on the pitch in the final minutes of the match between America and Deportivo Cali at Pascual Guerrero stadium, in the south-western city of Cali. Referee Wilmer Roldan called off the match in the 82nd minute when America coach Diego Umana punched his Cali counterpart, Daniel Carreno. America players, angry at the suspension of the game, chased the referee off the pitch. Carreno tried to hit back at Umana but was held back by his players. In the stands, members of the America supporters group, known as the Red Baron, began fighting amongst themselves. Riot police moved in to quell the fighting, while other supporters tried to break down a fence and invade the pitch. There was also fighting outside the stadium, where police used tear gas to disperse supporters. Players from both teams lamented the stoush but America fan Octavio Romero laid the blame on his team's opponents. "To me, it is unfortunate what these bandits from the south are doing, to end a game that was going so well and mess the match up," he said. The Red Cross said the injury count was around 60 as the victims were treated at the edge of the pitch. Deportivo Cali was winning 1-0 at the time. Colombia media said the result would stand."
I am not here to judge--only inform. I've seen plenty of untoward behavior at all manner of games, but you've got to admit: soccer hooligans are in a league of their own. It's kind of like UW college students when it comes to partying.
This is where I wanted to insert the infamous Simpsons soccer riot video, but it's been pulled from YouTube. Damn.
It DOES make me wonder, though, where all the soccer fans are who were telling us just a few months ago that the U.S. sports scene was about to be turned on it's head with the arrival of David Beckham and waif-thin wife Posh Spice--he, to play for the L-A Galaxy and she to be...well, Posh. Beckham signed for millions, played sparingly, and was best known as a well recompensed spectator at most of his team's games, thanks to lingering injuries. She, for the most part, remained thin and toured with her former girl group.
Soccer has it's niche--kids of both genders play it when they're very young and it's a low-cost, co-ed sport that promotes fitness and bonding. Club teams do well, serving as feeders for high school and college programs. We as a nation seem to care about soccer only when one of our Olympic teams is in the running for the gold (thanks, women) or the World Cup (not so much). As a new national passion, it ain't happening.
That said, I still think soccer will continue to grow as more and more folks from foreign lands make America their home, bringing their passion for futbol with them. It's easier to stay connected with the game, thanks to satellite and cable that bring global soccer into U.S. living rooms. THAT is how soccer will get traction in the states--not by fiat or by British import.
Let's just hope the hooligans get left behind.