That Other Kind Of Football

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If it’s summertime, and it’s an even numbered year, it’s time for some major soccer tournaments involving national teams.

I’ve always found soccer interesting, though I get why some people find it boring. It requires having a bit of an attention span that requires patience, which I’ve always had. I grew up in the era when the NASL was on TV, and so was the big local team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The Rowdies have been reborn by the way, playing in a brand new North American Soccer League that serves as a secondary league to Major League Soccer.

Right now, there’s the Copa America “Centenario” tournament going on in the USA, usually involving South American teams. This year’s tournament has a twist to it (See? Twists just don’t happen on reality TV.) were the major North American teams are also involved, including the American hosts.

I’m also interested in the UEFA Euro 2016, because I’m three-quarter Irish and one-quarter Danish, which is how I got the last name of Blom. Ireland and Northern Ireland each made it to the “final round” of 24 teams, and yes, I do root for Northern Ireland, hoping one day the British will relinquish ruling over them.

The Euros are being held in France, which as some of you remember, fell victim to terrorist attacks twice in 2015, including a grisly series of massacres in the fall which killed over 130 people. I was seeing on ESPN that fans are encouraged to get to the various stadiums hosting the tourney three hours ahead of time to go through two “rings” of security.

Going to Tropicana Field as I do for Rays games, you only have to go through a single security ring, where you put what’s in your pockets (cell phone, wallet, keys, etc.) into a small bin, and you’re “wanded” for anything on your person. Then, you get your belongings returned to you.

In light of all that, something made an unwelcome return yesterday: hooliganism. English and Russian fans clashed in Marseilles, the site of their game. Then after their 1-1 draw, fans of both nations reportedly clashed again. There’s been a long history going back decades of fans fighting each other at soccer games, but that long history doesn’t make these incidents any less stupid. I say ban these fans, give their tickets to less fortunate fans and/or charities in France who’ll watch the games – and behave themselves!

It’s a shame that this is the way things are in this day and age with terrorism and now hooliganism, but I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

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