Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Brotherhood & Unity Mk II

Following the incidents in Kranj, Croatian government has used emergency procedure to push Sport Fans Act, new piece of Sabor legislation designed to curb violence during sport events.

The proposal was welcomed by most of mainstream political parties. HDZ and most of rest of right-wingers have problems with few details, but they consented with the idea in general. The only exception is far right HSP, party that expects to harvest most of future votes among urban Lumpenproletariat (which includes "sport fans").

Short while ago, MSes and Croatian media received angry letter signed by BBB, Torcida, Kohorta and other Croatian soccer fan groups. The letter denounces the new legislation as hypocritical and oppressive and claims that the real aim is to crush "sport fans whose activities might be impediment to certain policies" (in other words, any kind of EU-sponsored reapprochement between Croatia and Serbia). Fans claim that they shouldn't deserve oppressive treatment, because their stadium riots "began the process that ended with destruction of Yugoslavia". In other words, if not for brave soccer hooligans, Croatia would have been under Yugoslav yoke right now. Soccer fans claim that they would stage street protest. What would those protests would look like is left to anyone's imagination.

The claims of the letter have very little to do with reality – historical or present. It is truth that soccer hooliganism in 1980s – singing nationalist songs, fights with soccer fans from Serbia - represented smudge on the official picture of former Yugoslav "brotherhood & unity", but it never had potential to crush the regime alone. If BBB, Torcida and other Croatian soccer fan groups are to take credit for existence of today's Croatia, the real work they did occurred during the real war.

And it is debatable whether the mythical hooligan patriots of 1980s have anything in common with soccer hooligans of today – teenagers who have grown up in independent Croatia and therefore can't use national oppression as the excuse for their violent behaviour. The only thing hooligans of the past and hooligans of today have in common – apart from their violent ways – are far right views, best shown during Zagreb Gay Pride events.

The most interesting thing about letter is, however, the fact that all those soccer fan groups showed such a great unity. Whenever BBB and Torcida – main reason why motorists have to think twice about parking car with Zagreb licence plates in Split and vice versa – meet you can expect the very same kind of bloodbath you could have seen during "good old" days when those two groups used to meet Delije and Grobari from Belgrade. But now BBB and Torcida are going to embrace new kind of "brotherhood & unity".


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