They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Sunday, June 18, 2006

US World cup hopes - not a football story

If you want a vision of the future, imagine an Italian football boot
laying waste to US World Cup hopes - for ever
[Apologies to George Orwell]

Due to nothing more than an irrational hostility towards most things American - brought about by The New World Order - the War-of-Terror, torture, renditions, oil-wars, 'usable' nukes, the weaponization of space, PNAC, neoliberalism, neoconservativism, the military-industrial complex, the coming attack on Iran....and stuff - for which in moments of lucidity I would be the first to admit the USA World Cup squad is not wholly responsible - those present at our house this evening nevertheless unanimously supported Italy tonight in their clash with the Great Satan.

We all wanted Italy to raise their level of play - which was never very likely as it happens - and demonstrate to the world that here, in Europe, US football would be dealt a decisive blow - for freedom - and the right of mankind - of whatever religion - not to be kidnapped, rendered, tortured or 'shot up' by yanks wielding M16's. In other words, for us it was payback time. Humiliate the colonial master. We dreamed of 2-0, maybe 3-0, even 4-0 (unknown to us at the time the US team actually out performs Italy currently in the FIFA rankings).

Alberto Gilardino scored with a diving header after twenty minutes or so, by which time we had come to realise that the US were not as pathetic as we had hoped - and indeed played some pretty good attacking football leading up to an 'own goal' by the unfortunate Cristian Zaccardo when he shinned Bobby Convey's free-kick into the back of his own net. With both teams on one goal each - and Italy looking anything but likely to give the States the drubbing we had hoped for - our spirits had dimmed, but our allegiance to the footballing enemy of our enemy was rock-solid. That is until something that a few in the room found quite shocking occurred. Midfielder Daniele De Rossi, with no apparent provocation but certainly a violent intent, smashed his elbow into the face of the American Brian McBride. The camera got a good shot of McBride all bloody and in some pain. De Rossi was rightfuly sent off the pitch for what was a vicious and unacceptable attack.

At this point the mood in the room changed. I have to say that this change was led by the females in our company - but it was felt by all. The previous status of the US team as representative of all that's currently wrong with the world disappeared. In its place was a genuine sympathy for the injured, blood splattered McBride and an anger that De Rossi could have gone over the top in such a spiteful and unwarranted fashion. At this point - and throughout the rest of the game - our loyalty and support was with the Great Satan. Indeed, they could do no wrong. We even forgave them for the many subsequent fouls they made upon the Italians. When the final whistle blew all agreed that they were robbed of an outright victory and the Italian squad had been lucky.

The US response to the attack on McBride was fairly measured and restrained. Yes, there were probably one or two incidents of retaliation, but nothing that you wouldn't see most Saturdays at any football game in the country. It was the lack of an obvious display of revenge that retained our support for the US.

Alternative ending

Instead of getting on with the game of football the US called help onto the pitch - and I'm not talking medics here - these were guys with baseball bats. The Italian players were each then, without mercy, bludgeoned to death. It was not a pretty site. After the helicopters descended upon the German stadium, and the remaining Italian football squad were each exterminated with a workmanlike zeal in a hale of bullets fired from a variety of pistols, sub-machine guns, and high velocity rifles, an announcement was made on the tannoy system for all Italians to proceed to the front of the Stadium, where a fleet of buses would be waiting to transport them to a nearby US base. At this point my friends and I realised, given what we already knew about US techniques employed in the so-called 'war on football violence' that the majority of these people were unlikely to see their friends and family again for years - and that worse still, some would be murdered, tortured or abused.

By the time the stadium had been cleared of bodies, and the TV commentators were engaged in the traditional match post-mortem my friends and I reflected on the fact that for a brief but significant moment there the USA had the full support of the room, which had suprised even ourselves - but like fools, they went and blew it.