Saturday, February 03, 2007

Soccer violence went too far again last night in Italy as a policeman was killed by a homemade explosive during rioting between the street gangs loyal to Palermo and Catania. Literally hundreds of people were injured, as both gangs fought one another and the police. The Italian league has been suspended indefinitely. Last week a soccer gang fight led to the beating death of one man, and last month a black French policeman shot a rioter dead after a PSG-Hapoel match, as a lynch mob chased him and a Jewish fan. Here in Spain, a couple of years ago, a Celta-Deportivo game ended up with a man kicked to death, and the Sevilla gang brutally beat a security guard inside the stadium with the cameras on.

I don't know why the authorities don't make the clubs ban these gangs. They should not be allowed in the stadiums. I bet what would work is holding the home club financially responsible for the actions of its followers. That'd end a lot of the violence right there.

The Fago murder case would make an all-time classic roman noir. The cops arrested the local PSOE leader, who had had both political and financial problems with the PP mayor, who was found filled full of bullets. The suspect confessed this morning and said he was the only one involved, which the media doesn't seem to believe. The town was apparently sharply divided between partisans and enemies of the mayor, and the sleazier TV shows are playing this up big.

Looks like the big electrical corporate merger war is over, with German utility E.ON bidding €38.75 a share for Endesa, Spain's biggest electric power company. This is, of course, a much better deal than Spanish utility Gas Natural was offering. Anti-Zap polemicists claimed that Zap and the PSOE were favoring a Gas Natural takeover, and the Zap administration certainly did everything it could to block E.ON's bid.

Barça plays Osasuna tomorrow night in Pamplona. Since Osasuna is the roughest team in Spain (reet tough buggers, says La Liga Loca) and since it's going to be cold, Ronaldinho is sitting out. Eto'o is finally coming back, though, after nearly five months out, and that ought to improve this team a lot. Meanwhile, Leo Messi might be ready for the match against Racing next week. Barcelona was able to cling on to first place without these two guys, and I imagine that as they get back in form, Barça will pull away from valiant but overmatched Sevilla and the circus that is Real Madrid. Watch out for Valencia, whose injured players are also coming back, and who have the best group of Spanish players in the league. They are the team I fear most.

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