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Monday, May 24, 2010

A Reminder of Why Americans Will NEVER Embrace Soccer

Italians are essentially crazy about three things: food, fashion and football. Football, of course, being what Americans call soccer.

People don’t normally kill each other over food and fashion, but in Europe, at least, they do over football, and it happened this weekend in Italy.

The Champions League final was played in Madrid between the Milan-based Internazionale and Bayern Munich. Internazionale won the game 2-0 with two beautiful goals by the Argentine striker Diego Milito.

A lot of people in Italy hate Internazionale, also known as Inter, especially fans of cross-town rival A.C. Milan and the one-time powerhouse Juventus, based in Turin.

For two grown men watching the game at a bar in Turin, the tension was just too much. One was an Inter fan; the other a passionate follower of Juventus, which just finished a horrendous season, not winning a thing.

Inter had just sewn up its third title of the year with the Champions League victory, so when the Juve supporter said that Inter wasn’t really an Italian team, since its coach and almost all of its starting line-up were foreigners, that was just too much for the Interista.

After some pushing and shoving, the Interista took out a knife and stabbed the other man. A 63-year-old was dead, and a 60-year-old hauled off to jail.

It brought back to mind a quote attributed to former Liverpool coach Bill Shankly: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

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