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Mr. Rogers On Soccer

Sometimes, English fans become targets unfairly.

By Andrew Rogers

SUNBURY ON THAMES, England (Sunday, April 8, 2006) -- Violence in any shape or form is simply unacceptable. At times, it might be mitigated, but when reason and control have been deserted, violence is not the answer.

Thus, as football fans, we are left scratching our heads at the need for riot police to wade into Manchester United supporters at Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League loss at AS with Roma.

While English fans are embalmed with a certain zeal when on foreign shores, the fact is it is a nation that hasn't had a revolution, does not really protest and considers politeness above all other qualities. This writer is too young to understand the football troubles of the 1980s, but it is accepted that as a reflection of English dominance of European football at the time, English fans got out of hand at times like many other nations.

This season, the evidence seems to suggest this was the case in France in the last round and Italy yesterday. The authorities are looking for aggravation, founded or otherwise.

It would seem that if English power brokers play their cards right and the fans continue to not react to such banal behavior, it will be Dutch, French and Italian clubs that are banned from Europe. Before the English were kicked out last time, their teams had reached nine of 11 finals between 1975 and 1985 and won seven titles. This time around, without the best of continental Europe, English dominance could last well into double decades.

Andrew Rogers, a regular contributor to the United Kingdom's League Paper and Non League Paper, lives in Sunbury on Thames in England. Formerly the director of communications for the Long Island (N.Y.) Rough Riders, he is a UEFA 'B" license coach and plays semi-professionally with Spelthorne FC.

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