HomeSportsSome English soccer fans’ vile bigotry easy to see coming
Some English soccer fans’ vile bigotry easy to see coming
July 16, 2021
If you stand on Scotland’s coast looking out on the North Sea, you don’t need a weather app. Even under bright sunshine, you may see a dark cloud line moving your way. That’s not a “70 percent chance of precipitation” alert, that’s a 10-minute warning. Incoming!
And 10 minutes were all it took to know that if England lost the European Championship to Italy on Sunday in London after a round of decisive penalty kicks, racist hell would descend. Those 10 minutes alerted Europe’s steady and not insignificant legions of racist, bigoted fans to do their usual worst. Throw in booze and lost bets and that storm-line darkened.
I winced when England’s Marcus Rashford hit the post with Italy’s goalkeeper nowhere close. I winced because Rashford is black. He’d provide juice to nuts.
That wince doubled when Jadon Sancho, a black Englishman, had his shot stopped. Not that Ian Darke, ESPN’s knowledgeable English play-by-play man, would or could say so, but he likely knew that brought the bigots’ blood to a boil. Heck, if I knew it, he knew it.
And then, the final impossible nail in the final impossible act. Bukayo Saka, a 19-year-old Englishman born to Nigerian parents — just a kid, for crying out loud — with the pressure of the Kingdom, the Empire and global gamblers on his chosen foot, ended it by missing his shot.
All three English misses by black players! Ugh! Calamity times three! Alert the riot squads! English “fans,” for decades politely referenced as “hooligans,” were on the march!
The internet immediately filled with race hatred, while “fans” without tickets, after trying to storm Wembley Stadium before the game, rioted in London’s streets. According to eyewitness media, Italian fans as well as blacks and Asians were attacked, property vandalized. At least 45 were arrested. Prince William, who attended the final, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson were moved to express their disgust.
The English soccer authority, the Football Association, in what now seems like a form letter, condemned the violence and hatred. Yes, zero tolerance, no place for such behavior, and all that stuff.
At European matches both teams are seen to take knees prior to the games. It’s not the same as here, protests of “systemic racism” as often encouraged by leagues and athletes, fans condemned for oppressing minorities, a backfire of extreme political correctness in blind obedience to the exploitive hustlers who continue to knock the liberal out of the fair-minded.
But, as a Yank in Europe might explain, “This ain’t that.” No, those pregame knees are taken to protest European soccer’s proudly racist and bigoted fan bases.
And what happened Sunday in England can be seen as mild compared to the cross-eyed, blood-rushing hatred acted on by soccer lunatics as one travels east in Europe — to France, the Netherlands, Germany and the Balkans, where some teams’ fan clubs resemble Skin Head brigades, bananas thrown on the fields toward black players and any team identified — real or imagined — as having Jewish fans or team owners chanted down as “Yids.”
This isn’t a dirty little secret. It’s an open, festering sore, a longtime, even traditional plague. And all in the name of sports. In this case, soccer, “The Beautiful Game.”
Sunday, wincing through those three missed kicks, anyone who knew how the wind blows knew this storm was only about 10 minutes out.
Flipping the script on Manfred’s showboat approval
I hope 19-year old Mets’ catching prospect Francisco Alvarez hasn’t invited trouble by defying Rob Manfred.
“Watching it back,” he said via an interpreter, “I did feel I disrespected the game a little bit. So I do feel that I have to respect the game a little more in situations like that.”
Yes, such respect is a good way to prevent fastballs from being thrown at your ribs, to prevent bench-clearing brawls and even to prove that modesty, once an attribute, has not yet been outlawed.
But Manfred, in his crusade to remove the sport from the sport while declaring that kids are MLB’s top priory, despite only evidence to the contrary, has given his full, pandering approval to all acts of rank self-aggrandizement on behalf of attracting kids.
Reader James Heimbuch recently visited Skylands Stadium, in Augusta, N.J., to see the Frontier League’s Sussex County Miners play. “Between innings they call down kids for the ‘Awesome Bat-Flip’ contest’ The kids take a swing then throw or flip the bat. It’s sickening.”
Well, he did it again, escaping with a mere apology. Don’t know why ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith keeps getting away with it. Just can’t figure it out.
This time, Smith, the face, voice and $12 million salary of ESPN, declared that Shohei Ohtani, not yet four years in the bigs, shouldn’t be the face of MLB’s All-Star Game because he doesn’t speak English, not that urban-slick Smith always chooses to speak English.
Had Smith bothered to look, he’d have seen Ohtani conversing to some extent with American and Latino teammates.
But Smith, armed with a weak grasp of sports and a flimflam man’s rotten guesswork, doesn’t understand that Ohtani is an athlete to behold rather than be heard.
Smith was the only NBA “expert” in town who didn’t approve of the winning-team play Jeremy Lin suddenly brought to the Knicks because Lin didn’t average as many points as injured Carmelo Anthony.
Still, this wasn’t as ugly as previous transgressions. Such as his ignorant, inflammatory bombast following the Nets’ hiring of Steve Nash as their rookie coach, which Smith condemned as a blatant case of “white privilege.” He was quickly disabused by facts he ignored. Charles Barkley noted that Derek Fisher, Jason Kidd, Isiah Thomas and Doc Rivers (he didn’t mention Bill Russell) are all blacks who became instant NBA coaches.
Hmmm, white privilege. Smith certainly can’t be accused of exploiting his white privilege. So as others are fired by ESPN, I wonder why he keeps getting away with it.
Re-Pete offender tough to root for
Clearly, Pete Alonso’s biggest fan is Pete Alonso, er, Pete Effin Alonso. Why does Humble Pete continue to insist on being difficult to root for?
In 2021, what does it take to become an All-Star catcher? In the case of the Rays’ Mike Zunino, you bat .198 and strike out 83 times in 187 at-bats — 44 percent of the time. But by swinging as hard as you can, you hit 19 home runs. Still, he was good enough to show up for the game.
With ESPN former Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez seemed pleasant but never said anything worth knowing, remembering, hearing. He sounded like just another mindless ex-QB TV hire. Perhaps that’s why Fox, which regularly recruits ESPN discards, this week hired him.
Harvey Pack, 40 years an impish, self-scolding character on local and national thoroughbred racing TV shows (“Pack at the Track”), died last week at 94. Pack was right out of “Guys and Dolls.” His business card read, “Dr. of Equine Prophecy.”
I’m never again going on one of those Richard Branson outer-space launches. The flight attendant was rude. She asked if I wanted lunch. I said, “What are my choices?” She said, “Yes or no.”