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Hooligans....Germany should get tiny handcuffs ready for 2006

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This made me chuckle....


Homegrown hooligan headache

by FIFAworldcup.com


Click to enlarge photo

Japan's elaborate preparations to counter the threat of hooliganism began months before the big event. Anxious to make a good impression with their crisis management expertise, the Japanese authorities embarked on a comprehensive campaign to ensure that the FIFA World Cup would be free of violence.

The police organised drill after drill at all hours of the day and night, and announced security measures developed especially to deal with hooligans. Overseas hooligans, of course, because as far as Japan was concerned, overseas was where hooligans came from.


Accordingly, a tense public learned about oversized handcuffs that would fit the wrists of even the largest foreign troublemaker, and police officers carrying “yellow cards” that would tell hooligans in English to keep the noise down. Ferries had even been requisitioned to transport the large numbers of troublemakers that the police would undoubtedly have to arrest.


Who could blame the Japanese police for their zealous drive to be safe rather than sorry? Yet even the safest Sapporo policeman's knees may have been knocking as his particular date with destiny approached: the clash of the titans — England versus Argentina. The grudge match from hell.


The police were out in force that night in Susukino, Sapporo's main entertainment district. They braced themselves as thousands of England supporters poured into the area, already drunk with joy. "EnglandEngland" the fans chanted deliriously. And peacefully. All evening.


Meanwhile, even sporadic attempts by supporters to nettle their rivals were falling flat. When a provocative drunken chant of "England! England!" rose in a bar, the English supporters were bewildered to find Japanese around them chanting along supportively. It took them a while to discover that David Beckham was more famous and adored in Japan than most members of the nation's own team.


Yet even as the police heaved a collective sigh of relief, a new threat was emerging. It came to their attention that one of the teams doing unexpectedly well had wildly passionate supporters who went crazy in public after every new drama had unfolded on the pitch. They weren't English. They weren't Argentinean. They were Japanese. "NipponNippon" they chanted until the early hours of the morning as they set off fireworks, ran around naked, destroyed public property, and generally made a nuisance of themselves.


In most instances these J-hooligans are a lot cuddlier than their overseas counterparts, but they're causing a certain amount of anxiety nonetheless. Their activities are becoming increasingly eccentric each time the national team plays and a new David Beckham emerges. The peak so far was the evening of 14 June, when Japan beat Tunisia to qualify for the Round of Sixteen.


The match was played in Osaka, a city of big emotions. After thrilling events in the past, those wildest with joy have been known to jump off a bridge into the Dotonbori River in the Minami entertainment district. For this form of celebration, you pretty much have to be wild with joy. Sober and in daylight, few people would actually opt for a quick dip in the murky waters of the Dotonbori. But on the night Japan beat Tunisia, an astonishing 900 men and women took the plunge.


Fortunately the revellers didn't cause any serious trouble on that occasion, even if their behaviour was a little unnerving. People not yet infected with football fever have been urging the fun-lovers not to get too carried away. But with the national team making history twice a week, it's hard to make any J-hooligan listen to the voice of reason.

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