Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Soccer Tragedy

For those of you here in North America who only hear about violence amongst soccer fans in Europe below you will see a shocking story I found here in my local paper.
It is amazing how soccer support transcends religious, class, social political lines. Many fans are basically raised in the environment of feverish support for their club to the point of dying for the club. Sadly many also do not care about the game but just use the guise of supporter for their hooliganism.
I will relate a story in another post of a game I attended last year in Hungary and the experience I had there. In the meantime here is the article,

DUBLIN – Militant Protestant supporters of a Scottish soccer team beat to death a Roman Catholic man in the latest sign of how sports rivalries inspire sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland, police and politicians said yesterday.

Witnesses said more than 20 Protestant supporters of Glasgow Rangers, many of them wearing the team's blue-and-white jerseys and scarves, drove into a Catholic district of the town of Coleraine after Rangers clinched the Scottish Premier League championship Sunday.

Billy Leonard, a former policeman and politician from the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, said several carloads of anti-Catholic extremists came armed with clubs "and literally attacked the first person they came across."

Kevin McDaid, 49, was fatally bludgeoned while his wife, Evelyn, and a 46-year-old Catholic neighbour, Damien Fleming, were both injured. Fleming was reported in critical condition. Police said they arrested seven men on suspicion of involvement in the attack. A Presbyterian minister in the town, the Rev. Alan Johnston, said Rangers supporters were drinking heavily while watching Sunday's Rangers victory at pubs in central Coleraine and then drove across a bridge to the Catholic area, Somerset Drive.

A Catholic politician in the town, John Dallat, accused an outlawed Protestant paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association, of responsibility. Rangers enjoy support exclusively from the British Protestant side of the community in Northern Ireland, while archrival Glasgow Celtic draws support only from the Irish Catholics.

Those sectarian allegiances fuel street fighting, and occasionally worse, in both Glasgow and across Northern Ireland, particularly when the two teams play each other or when the annual league championship – typically won by one of the two – is determined. Celtic, league champions the previous three years, finished second Sunday.

The officer leading the murder investigation, Det. Chief Insp. Frankie Taylor, appealed to the Catholic minority in the town not to retaliate. Taylor said the dead man had four children, did volunteer youth work in the town, and was "a man who would do anything for anybody."

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