Arquivo da tag: hooligans

World Cup Reflections on Soccer of Old (New York Times

CreditPaul Hornschemeier

IT’S wonderful that America has fallen in love with World Cup soccer, as it plays out across the greenswards of Brazilian host cities like Natal, Manaus and Curitiba. To walk through New York City on Monday night and hear the restaurant crowds’ whooping at John Brooks’s late-game goal, which propelled the United States over Ghana, was to experience soccer as it is experienced in the rest of the world: collective, noisy and cathartic.

But as someone who grew up in England in the 1970s and ’80s, I still can’t take seriously this idea of soccer as a wholesome multicultural bauble, the sporting equivalent of the small-plate gastropub. I’m bemused by these young people all over New York with their World Cup sticker albums, wearing club shirts from Barcelona and Chelsea — and even Paris St.-Germain, for heaven’s sake.

Until recently, when the Qatar Investment Authority bought Paris St.-Germain and scrubbed it up, investing tens of millions of dollars in new players, it was a terrifying club. Its stands were ruled by a group of fascist skinheads, the notorious Kop de Boulogne. Few Parisians dared venture to its games. At a match in 2008, its fans greeted the visiting club from Lens with a banner reading, “Pedophiles, unemployed and inbred.”

Longtime Chelsea fans now complain that games at their home ground, Stamford Bridge, once raucous affairs, have become as stodgy as a night at the opera. It’s now just thousands of well-behaved bankers and lawyers, chuntering approval at the latest high-priced midfield acquisition. The old frisson of hooliganism is gone.

In Northampton, the town where I grew up, the professional team was nicknamed the Cobblers, a reference to Northampton’s past as a center for shoemaking, but unfortunately also Cockney rhyming slang for “rubbish.” The Cobblers played at the County Ground a mile or so from our house, and on game days my parents ordered me inside and locked the doors as hundreds of fans walked to the game and back, chanting and leaving a trail of lager cans along Christ Church Road.

As a schoolboy, I had to play endless unwanted hours of mediocre soccer. There was the occasional sunny afternoon in our backyard when I would imagine myself as Glenn Hoddle, the midfield genius of Tottenham Hotspur and England’s national team. But if I had to play one of those rapid-fire word association games, here’s what would spring to mind: freezing, rain, ball like a rock, pain, bruise, yelling, losing. My favorite moment from the United States-Ghana match wasn’t the goals but Clint Dempsey’s taking a blow to the face and playing on.

As a cub newspaper reporter, I would drive to lower-division professional matches around the south of England. I would park my car, hide my stereo and walk to the match past a line of mounted police officers in riot gear. You took your life in your hands just eating the meat pies at these games. Grown men would swear with such explosive force you feared their teeth would pop out. Their feelings for the referee and the opposition, rendered in chant, were unprintable.

England’s national team used to be made up of hard nuts willing to bleed for the country on the field and drink off it. On their way back home from a friendly match before the European championships in 1996, they got soused and trashed a plane to the tune of more than $5,000 in damage.

I’m happy the players today are all listening to their nutritionists and thanking God for their blessings, but I wonder if ever there will be another Stuart (Psycho) Pearce to grace the England back four or a Paul (Gazza) Gascoigne to celebrate scoring by pretending to drink pint after pint of lager.

When I moved to New York, in 1998, the Yankees were en route to another championship. It was easy to love Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and the high-kicking Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez. I went to games at Yankee Stadium, read the works of Roger Angell and Roger Kahn. For one birthday, my wife even bought me a copy of “The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” so I could nerd out on sabermetrics.

But when I tried to talk baseball with Americans, I could tell no one took me seriously. However much I knew, I could never really “know” the game in the same way as those who had endured hot summer afternoons of Little League or long losing droughts with the Mets. Anyone could like El Duque, the same way anyone can like Lionel Messi.

So it is with the new crowds of World Cup fans. If I feel a little protective of my game, it’s because my enthusiasm for it has been uneven and hard won. The good news is I don’t have to worry about this ever happening with cricket.

Stadium ban for EU hooligans undermines civil rights (The Limping Messenger blog)

February 3, 2012 by Tjebbe van Tijen

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL STADIUM BAN FOR HOOLIGANS… Ahmed Aboutaleb major of the City of Rotterdam rejoices today the European Parliament initiative for an European level implementation of banning locally convicted football hooligans from all EU stadiums. (1) This law initiative has been long in the making. An earlier document by the Council of the European Union “Resolution of the Council on preventing and restraining football hooliganism through the exchange of experience, exclusion from stadiums and media policy” dates back to the year 1997:

The responsible Ministers invite their national sports associations to examine, in accordance with national law, how stadium exclusions imposed under civil law could also apply to football matches in a European context.

However much I dislike football hooligans this is a juridical precedent which will have far reaching negative consequences for civil rights in general. Not only does it create yet another centrally managed person database that can be accessed by all EU police forces (like data on persons DNA, illegal migrants and so on) it is a further step in constructing a ‘central EU police force’ with all its inherent dangers. Such an EU-wide anti-hooligan law also means multiplied condemnation – for a big part of the European continent – on the basis of a local conviction.

Together with actual proposals (in the Netherlands) for ‘whole sale mass arrests’, not only hooligan “leaders”, but also of their “followers” (‘meeloophooligens’ is the Dutch term), we can be certain that such an extra-national banning and black-listing power, will be abused in ways beyond our imagination. Once such a law and its enforcement has been put into effect, other ‘social distinct groups’ whose behaviour is classified as unruly can get the same routine treatment in the future. The Council of Europe document of 1997 cited above speaks of “preventing and containing of disorder”, so one need not to be surprised when other forms of ”disorder” will be handled in the long run in the same way. For instance, when we take in account the frequent attempts by politicians – defending employers interest – to criminalise strike actions, trade union activists could be databased and blacklisted with the same ‘anti-hooligan routine’.

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(1) It is interesting to note that the ‘hooligan-ban’ proposals in the European Parliament plenary session of February 2. 2012, was part of a bundle of all kind of measures related to sport listed in this order: – Promote sport for girls; – Blacklist hooligans; – Make doping a criminal offence; – Regulate sport agents; -Combine learning and training. The resolution – thus packaged – has been passed with 550 votes in favour, 73 against and 7 abstentions. In the section of hooligans is also this sentence: “MEPs also call on Member States and sports governing bodies to commit to tackling homophobia and racism against athletes.” Something problematic in the sense of ‘civil rights’ has been hidden inside a package of mostly emancipatory proposals.