Those who know me, know that I never miss a major soccer tournament. Once every four years I rearrange my life in order to watch all, or nearly all, World Cup matches.
There is no World Cup this year, but two other tournaments - The Copa America Centennario, here in the U.S., and The Euro Championships in France - are keeping me entertained. The game on the field is entertaining enough, but every once in a while the game of soccer offers a second form of entrtainment; marauding drunk British fans.
Before continuing, I should remind everyone that I come to my opinion of the British as someone who possesses some British blood myself. I also have a little bit of Scottish ancestory, though, and I'm pretty sure it's my Scottish side that forms most of my opinions of the British.
When I read about gangs of drunk loud-mouthed British fans clashing with riot Police in Marseille before England's opening match with Russia, I laughed, but it was that sad sort of laughter, a sort of 'here we go again' head-shaking laughter.
The next day, as Russia and England battled on the field to a frustrating 1-1 draw, fans from both countries began fighting each other in the stands.
A day after that England and Russia were warned to keep their fans under control or risk being kicked out of the tournament. France announced that it was considering banning the sale of alcohol anywhere within the vicinity of stadiums where England would be playing.
If you attend a Premier League game in England, you are not allowed to drink alcohol in your seat while watching the game.
I was thinking about all these things while watching the other tournament, The Copa America, last night, with Argentina battling Bolivia in my home town of Seattle. I had to settle for the television broadcast of the game, although I would have loved to be up in Seattle, at the stadium, watching Leo Messi in person, with one of those stadium over-priced beers in my hand.
The contrast is striking. As I wacthed the Argentina-Bolivia game it struck me that at no time during any of the previous Copa America games was there any incident of violence or "Hooliganism." In fact Copa America crowds - many of them from places as passionate about the game as anywhere in Europe (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico) were having a big happy party in the stadiums. When the camera passed one group of people holding, and sometimes spilling some of their over-priced stadium beer on each other, laughing it off the whole time, I wondered what made the two tournaments so different.
America certainly can't claim any high ground when it comes to violence. What makes our stadium crowds different?
Oh! Then I realized what it was...
Yep, that's all the explanation we need.
Bolt down your chairs. Stop selling alcohol. Lock the doors.
The drunk Brits are coming.
I wish I were a little more Scottish than I am. I'm going to need some serious protection from the drunk Brits when they read this.
June 15, 2016