One thing that has always impressed me about World Football is how professional teams’ locker rooms are so multicultural and the players work together in apparent harmony. Take Real Madrid, for example, where you have players from Spain, England, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, and Mali. Of course, the players compete with each other for a starting position, but still they appear to “get along”. The same could be said of US professional sports such as baseball, American football and basketball. Over time, fans stop identifying players as being of a certain race or ethnicity and see them only as there heroes.
Thus, when something happens like on Wednesday night when English and Italian fans attacked each other, I am always shocked at how provincial people can be.
The same thing bothered me this past summer during the World Cup Finals (as I have written ad nausea). While celebrating the multiculturalism of the World Cup and how World Football brings people together, no one gave Zidane the benefit of the doubt when he appeared to be insulted by an opposing player. What also bothered me was how none of the Italian players who shared club teams in the past with Zidane seemed to defend him. Where was the multicultural harmony and unity?
And violence is not just caused by international rivalries. It also occurs in inter-city matches, known as derbies. A few months ago in a Betis v. Sevilla match, a Betis fan hurled a bottle at Sevilla’s coach, sending him to the hospital. Of course, people called the act unacceptable. And yet, these types of events frequently occur from Argentina to Europe. After a game in Italy a few months ago, fans attacked and murdered a referee.
Supposedly, World Football is the most popular sport in the world. People across the globe join in mass to watch their favorite teams and players. While the US destroys Iraq, the rest of the world is attacking each other over Football. Go figure. Where is the harmony?