Soccer in England (and throughout Europe for that matter) is not so much a sporting event as it is a religious experience.
A few years ago I was vacationing in France
and on my way into the city from De Gaulle airport I saw the oddest looking group of people:
There were hundreds of red-bearded men all dressed in soccer jersies and kilts, dancing in the streets and singing
a rather profane (but funny) song about some poor Spaniard.
I asked the driver what that was all about and he said "World Cup."
It seems I had the bad luck of unknowingly planning a trip to Paris during the World Cup and Scotland had the good fortune of making it to the finals (or semi-finals)...and they were the greatest fun, by the way.
These people were nuts...I`ve never seen anything like it. Those naked guys standing in the freezing cold with styrofoam cheese on their heads
during the Super Bowl...yeah, they look like 6 year-old girls at a tea party by comparison.
In any event, Alan Pardew is manager of the West Ham soccer team
in England. Last week, Arsenal
defeated Real Spain in the champion`s league.
Commenting on the Arsenal team, Pardew remarked:
"I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain in the Champions League, but I had to wonder where that British involvement was when I saw the team...the foreign players and coaches have added massively to the game, but we are losing the soul of British football and English players should be integrated into the teams."
Pardew looks to end war of words [15 March 2006 ]
Last month, West Ham defeated Arsenal with a line-up of ten players, all British.
His comments about the non-British line-up of the Arsenal team were considered racist by many. One team manager (a Frenchman
, of course) was quoted in the above article as saying:
"It is really disappointing for two reasons...first we are trying to kick racism out of football and I think racism starts with that sort of remark and second, when you`re a manager you want to accept a technical opinion but not remark."
Pardew was forced to issue an apology...of sorts."My comments were neither xenophobic nor racist. It was just my genuine passion for British football."
Mr. Pardew is not a racist nor were his remarks inflammatory but I suppose he broke the rules when he displayed even the slightest hint of national pride or love for his country...or countrymen.
You know, like thinking a British soccer team should have one or two British players.