The UEFA Champions Cup played today in Athens, with a relatively unsatisfying 2-1 victory of AC Milan over Liverpool. The FBO, who noted the flaws of the World Cup coverage last year (see here), would like to comment:
--> YOU'RE WELCOME MLS
Last year the biggest loser of the 2006 World Cup was the USA's struggling MLS soccer league, who only piggybacked on the big event with a sparing ad or two. This year, following FBO's advice last year (July 11), the MLS ran ads during the Champions Cup halftime period. Good thinking, guys. Even if it's a year late.
--> WHY DO BAD GUYS/FANS ALWAYS WIN?
The FBO could get into trouble for this, but it's hard to refute that Italy, taken generally, may have the most racist soccer fans in the world. Who can forget the Nazi swastika signs and 'monkey' banners shown to opposing black players in recent years*? Hoping for a small sense of justice, the FBO rooted against Italy in the World Cup -- though Italy got a phantom penalty kick to beat Australia, and beat France on penalty kicks in the final to win. Similarly this year, AC Milan -- enveloped in a match-fixing scandal last year -- shook off a potential inelgibility in this year's Champion Cup to win it. We know the players aren't guilty (though should solve it; see *), but is there really any justice in sports?
--> WHO'S REFFING THIS THING?
AC Milan's first goal bounced off a shoulder -- generally considered 'hands.' In the final minutes, with Liverpool vainly trying to rally for an equalizing goal, the refs announced three minutes of stoppage time, then called the game -- after at least 60 seconds of bonus time stopped for injury, substitutions -- after only 2:45 played. Come again? At least a minute remains unplayed. One wonders if Liverpool would've cashed in if the legitimate time had played on.
The FBO remains a huge barracker of soccer/football as a sport, but it's sad that two of the biggest displays to woo American audiences have been blemished a bit. Maybe the MLS -- with Beckham around the corner -- will do the trick.
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY
* The Full-Proof FBO Plan to Stop Racist Fans: Want these displays to stop? It can be done in 20 minutes. Arsenal/France player Thierry Henry started an awareness campaign on this -- putting the burden on fellow fans -- which is nice and applaudable, but can never work. Let the players solve it. Any home game where racist displays or chants are evident, have the home team forfeit. Simple as that. That'll get the good fans ONTO the bad ones quickly. Games CANNOT and should never be played with displays like the one pictured above (at a game in Italy).