Wednesday, January 27, 2010

England Fans: Known Hooligans Must Stay Home

England fans ... all the rage on this blog.

England is working on plans to seize the passports of some 3,200 soccer fans considered hooligans. Doesn't seem quite democratic, but England has been embarrassed by yobs too many times in the past.

Certainly, the heyday of English hooligans is long past. The infamous book, "Among the Thugs," published in 1991, now is much more about English history than it is current events.

No doubt, however, that hooliganism was a significant problem for a decade or four. England fans raised havoc on the other side of the channel (getting their club teams banned from Europe for nearly five years following the Heysel Stadium Disaster of 1985, when 39 Italian fans died) and were a menace at the 1990 World Cup, when they gave Sardinia a fairly thorough rubbishing.

There was undisguised glee among organizers in the United States, in 1993, when England failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, which was played in the States. The thinking was quite simple: We won't have to spend a lot of time and energy heading off England's drunk-and-disorderly yahoos.

Perhaps the last gasp of England's yobs was after the Three Lions' first match in the 1998 World Cup in France, after England defeated Tunisia, 2-0 ... prompting some of their sociopathic followers to battle local French residents of North African origin in what was later remembered as The Battle of Marseille.

In the past decade, England's fans seem to have grown much more sedate. Is it about authorities tracking down ringleaders? A change in stadium security precautions? Or some more subtle change in the English populace?

Perhaps someone can research it and give us a guess why.

Anyway, England is collecting 3,200 passports to keep thugs from going to South Africa. Twenty years ago, they probably would have to pick up 32,000 passports, to be safe.
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