As all of Europe (and parts of the U.S.) gears up for the World Cup games in South Africa, I came across a terrific editorial from the WSJ in which the writer bemoans the bad behaviour of footballers today. In it, the author delineates a fine line between the players in the soccer stadium and the hoodlums who wreak havoc on the stadiums, the fans, and on the cities that host them.
It's a hot topic as the UK has mandated that their hooligans turn in their passports, arresting and fining (over $8000!) anyone who did not comply. A gang from Argentina was turned around right upon arrival in S.Africa's airport. The Africans have designated train cars cum makeshift jails with judges aboard - and speedy trials and sentences - just to prepare for the pithed-brain jerks who are in serious need of attention.
In March, the Italians tried to clean up their players' act by outlawing blasphemy on the field. The international Fifpro organisation said it's an 'infringement of free speech'. But, as Coach Trappattoni so astutely remarked, "If you play like a jackass, what has God got to do with it?" And while the debate ensues, my question is: Like most laws in Italy, who's going to enforce it? With multi-cultural teams, who's to say that the guy from Cameroon didn't just insult a god of the skies of some sort? The referee?
As the writer mused in his editorial, he'd travel far and wide for a good game of Rugby, and wouldn't go near the soccer stadiums as it is not a sport that shows off good sportsmanship.
In the end, his reflections were nothing more than a twist on the old saying,
"Football is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligans' game played by gentlemen"...