With the best-played soccer tournament in the world just underway (yes, better than the World Cup), there's still plenty of time for crazy. Forced fan urination? Toxic jerseys? Snot-shoveling Germans? Just you wait.
1. Race Riots Might Happen Everywhere
(Getty Images / DIMITAR DILKOFF)
A few weeks before the tournament, BBC aired a documentary about soccer culture in the two host countries, Poland and Ukraine, with the hilariously unsubtle title, “Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate.” There were hidden cameras showing Nazi salutes going unpunished at local matches and shots of deserted-seeming footpaths with anti-Semitic graffiti. Maybe most notably, there was former England international Sol Campbell, who is black, telling English fans of color, “Don’t risk [traveling to Poland or Ukraine]... because you could end up coming back in a coffin.”
Local officials and UEFA (unsurprisingly), as well as some of the documentary participants and English fan groups (surprisingly), have denounced the documentary (and similarly bleak follow-up reports) as being “sensationalist.” Regardless, the stories keep streaming in. Black Dutch players being heckled at a training session. Lone non-white Czech Republic player Theodor Gebre Selassie hearing “monkey chants” from the crowd.
There were 14 arrests made in Poznan, Poland, though, just before the Ireland-Croatia match. And Tuesday's Poland-Russia match saw 184 people arrested.
2. Italian Striker Mario Balotelli Could Commit Murder
(Getty Images / CHRISTOF STACHE)
Mega-talented madman Mario Balotelli, already infamous for a number of random stunts and tantrums (throwing darts at youth team players, setting off fireworks in his own bathroom, making a surprise visit to a women’s prison and, believe it or not, more) has sent a pretty clear message to potential racist boneheads:
"I will not accept racism at all. It's unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them."
Fair enough. In the same interview, he also described himself as a “genius.” If Balotelli didn’t exist, the world would be forced to invent him. And his first game saw a typically inconsistent performance, so we'll see what he has on store soccerwise for the rest of the tourney.