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boys behaving badly*

hey look! here's some footage of some hijinks at a euro 2016 qualifying match between albania and serbia:



in case you're not clear what you're seeing, that's a remote control drone launched by albanian fans [who were banned from attending the match due to concerns that they might do something to provoke the serbian team or their fans] with a flag showing a map of the disputed territory of kosovo emblazoned with an albanian double-headed eagle and the word "autochthonous" [meaning that the disputed territory belongs to its ethnic albanians, which is a possible subject for a future "world wide wednesdays"].

things kind of go from bad to worse when a serbian player brings down the drone and then some albanian players rushed up to liberate it.

and then things went from worse to really worse:



and then the english referee decided that things were getting just a little too interesting and called off the game.

serbian team captain, chelsea player and luis suarez biting victim branislav ivanovic helpfully told journalists afterwards that his manly teammates had been prepared to play, but that the albanians pussed out. [not verbatim, but close. his actual quote is included here.]

it's not like this is the first time this has happened. it's not even the first time that this has happened this week.

here's some footage of explosives being hurled at a game on friday between romania and hungary, who don't even have a territory dispute [although they did fight a war over transylvania and other territories from 1918-20]:



and here is some fun with flares and riot police from a game between bulgaria and croatia the same day:



and that's just this week, because apparently throwing explosive objects is what soccer fans do instead of singing "we will rock you".

i wonder that no european governments have thought to round up some of these ultra-fans and ship them off to fight islamic state. people crazed on soccer versus people crazed on religion looks like an entirely balanced equation in my book.

over here in north america, we like to think that we have a healthy relationship with violence. maybe not canada, so much, but we here in the west know how to bring the motherfucking violence. and believe me, canada does way more than our fair share of the sports-related violence. vancouver hockey fans rampaged through downtown after their stanley cup loss because it was there. and montreal... the hockey riot is kind of our thing.

but even here, where violence is as ubiquitous as fast food outlets, we generally abide by the belief that when we attend a sporting event, we'd like to not die. and i can't help but notice that that doesn't seem to apply for soccer fans. it seems like dying is just one of those things that can happen at a game, like catching an errant ball or losing your car keys [possibly lodged them in some guy's eyeball].

i'm a soccer fan. i'm enough of a fan that i'm actually paying a certain amount of attention to a qualification process for a final tournament that is going to take place in 2016. [it's nice to be able to cheer on wales and scotland for a while.] but at no point do i want to die because of this and i think that's a pretty healthy attitude. i'm always a little flummoxed that the continent that consistently accounts for at least half of the top ten countries on the u.n.'s human development index can also produce such vitriol over sports. i get that, when it comes to international competitions, sometimes a game isn't just a game, but i sort of cling to the belief that it should be something just a little bit enjoyable.

for now, i'll continue following the games and i'll continue to be happy that there's an ocean in between me and the pitches where they're happening. because i am really, really happy not to die for now.

*ok, the title. although i maintain that the instigators of a lot of these problems, the vast majority, are men, i don't mean to imply that hooliganism is an exclusively male activity. mea culpa.

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