SportsProf

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Barry Bonds Is Lucky That

he doesn't play in the Serie A soccer league in Italy (that's the top league, for the uninitiated).

Read this and you'll see what I mean.

And the World Cup hasn't even started yet.

Lest anyone think that Americans' passions for their favorite sports are the most heated in the world, think again.

Imagine that, players getting attacked by their own fans at the airport? Their own fans.

Interesting in that Milan is one of the fashion capitals of Europe, so you only can imagine that some of the hooligans even risked ripping their fancy threads to get a piece of the team.

Literally.

What's going on in Italy? What will happen if somehow in the first round of the World Cup the Azzuri fail to defeat the Americans (and the Czechs, for that matter) and get into the next round. Will they use automatic weapons instead of their fists? Will all of Italy be in peril?

American sports figures are fortunate, relatively speaking, that they don't suffer this kind of scrutiny. They think that they might have it tough with the media and the fans, but they have no idea of what goes on in Europe.

During the NCAA basketball tournament, Richard Midgley, an Englishman playing for Cal, was asked who was more passionate, English soccer fans or NCAA hoops fans. Instantly and without batting an eye, Midgley's response was, "English soccer fans". I don't recall the article's precise wording, but the implication was that it wasn't even close.

Which means that the U.S. national team could be a dark horse to reach the round of eight or beyond in this year's World Cup. The pressure of a nation really isn't on them, as the event will take place in the heart of baseball season. (The pressure seemingly is on most other national teams who will be competing in the tournament).

And the thing about the U.S. team members is that they could pass through most airports without their own countryment recognizing them.

As for the others, well, it's a whole different story.

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