Today, Starbucks is a Far-Flung Empire with 2000 Outlets Worldwide

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In USA Today, Bruce Horovitz has a report on Starbucks that makes no small claims. The coffee chain, simply put, is changing America.

Starbucks has a [glitzy] goal: to help rewrite society's pop culture menu. The company that sells 4 million coffee drinks daily in the USA is hot to extend its brand beyond the espresso machine to influence the films we see, CDs we hear and books we read. In the process, it aims to grow into a global empire rivaling McDonald's.

One of those world-changing initiatives is the chain's sale of fair trade coffee, about which more can be read in Kerry Howley's already-classic March 2006 Reason feature. But the other Starbucks innovations include "changing what we'll pay for coffee, changing coffee tastes, changing what we eat, changing how we order, changing how people meet, changing cities," and playing a big role in the music industry. (I guess Antigone Rising are going nowhere but down, but the rest of Starbucks in-store CDs have proven pretty influential.) Some consumers are welcoming the changes; others, as evidenced by this Fark thread (with obligatory Battlestar Galactica references), are more skittish.

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  1. All of this and I’ve never seen a Starbucks commerical on TV. Hollywood must freakin hate them.

  2. I sit in eager anticipation of the caffeine Truth ads.

  3. coarsetad,
    You haven’t? They have quite a few in the summer for their Frappacinos

  4. The Onion was on top of this about five years ago:

    “Starbucks to Begin Sinister ‘Phase Two’ of Operation.”

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28657

  5. The Fark thread seems populated by anticapitalist turds who find it trendy to hate anything that is trendy. I mean, come on…some of them even buy the whole “Fair Trade” line or horseshit! Psssshhht.

    On the other hand, some of them have legitimate complaints, like, um, the coffee being burnt (over-roasted) to achieve consistency over large market areas.

  6. On sunday, wandering along Kensington High Street I felt the need for a designer coffee. I was stood next to a traditional, cake/tea/coffee shop named ‘The Muffin Man’; (the kind of smug, cloyingly ‘nice’ eco-title that makes my penis shrink) an enterprise that desperately needs consumers to place their beverage needs in, to stave off the global pressure of Starbucks. So, feeling socially responsible, I went in and ordered a coffee.

    And it sucked. Warm, pissy, minor league coffee.

    I got up, walked out, went to Starbucks and bought a tasty latte.

    Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that I have no time for the following three:

    1) Commies
    2) Hippies
    3) Tradition / Bad Coffee

    Reap competition. Long live Starbucks.

  7. By changing our tastes in coffee, does that mean buying overly-expensive coffee that tastes like shit?

    As an avid coffee drinker, the only difference I notice between Starbucks and Sunoco ocffee is that Starbucks simply burns the beans.

    Groundbreaking…

  8. P.S. Not that there’s anything wrong with Starbucks being big, or corporate. I simply don’t like it.

    The crusty punks who throw bricks through Starbucks windows would have you believe that I have no choice but to buy the crap.

    I choose to brew my own, long live capitalism.

  9. Ah, milkshakes disguised as coffee. Never a bad idea to underestimate the rationality of consumers.

    My girlfriend just (mostly) gave up blackberry, green tea Frappuccinos when she discovered that they were a mere 700 calories each. But “green tea” is healthy!!

  10. C’mon, I’ve never met anybody who thought that Frappuccinos were actually good for you. Boy are they yummy though. Might have to get one this afternoon.

  11. i don’t know which tastes worse, burnt starbucks coffee or the equally popular dunkin donut-flavored coffee.

  12. I have no problem with Starbucks, but then I like my coffee burnt. The service there has been consistently good imo which should be noticed and commended (if true).

    Still, Misha’s in Old Town Alexandria has better coffee and allows smoking. The local coffee shop still has a place in my heart.

  13. “the kind of smug, cloyingly ‘nice’ eco-title that makes my penis shrink”

    um… so, what, it’s gone from a Venti to a Grande? or something like that?

    🙂

  14. As an avid coffee drinker, the only difference I notice between Starbucks and Sunoco ocffee is that Starbucks simply burns the beans.

    Do you guys have Pret A Manger over in the states? It’s an average sandwich chain run by McDoanlds (it attempts to be hip and sassy – they play Jazz music)but I have to admit it serves a good cup of coffee. Strong. Not too milky and not too expensive.

    It’s my birthday in a month or so and I’m hoping to buy one of those wazzy, snazzy home coffee makers with an Italian name and a steamer attachment.

    Can anyone tell me if they work?

  15. I recall the Frank and Ernest cartoon where one tells the other of the time he got so confused by all the choices at a Starbucks-type coffee shop that he ordered an Al Pacino.

  16. I can’t believe you linked to a Fark thread. The only thing of interest in Fark threads is amusing photoshops.

    Now Foobies, on the other hand, is always of interest.

  17. um… so, what, it’s gone from a Venti to a Grande? or something like that?

    Good lord, you flatter me. More like ‘regular’ to one of those teeny-weeny expresso paper mugs.

    I bet you there’s some nitwit doing a psychology PHD paper on ‘post-modern concepts of manhood and beverage consumption’.

    Sigh.

    Still, WORLD CUP IN TEN DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. One of the funniest moments of this season’s Sopranos was the failed shakedown of a Starbucks. Apparently mom and pop coffee shops aren’t the only “family” businesses that feel the pinch when Starbucks moves in.

  19. Still, WORLD CUP IN TEN DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  20. I’m fortunate enough to have three places within easy to moderate driving distance that roast in-house, and not to Starbucks’ level of char. That, combined with a little Solis pump machine, keeps my coffee habit happy.

    Starbucks brought specialty coffee to the masses, and anything that gets the American palate away from weak, Robusta-laden coffee is good news. It keeps the market viable for those of us who want more from our beans.

    Mark – If you’re talking about a wazzy-snazzy machine that says Gaggia or Rancilio on the side/back and includes a heavy brass boiler, yes they work quite well. If you’re talking about some plastic wonder that includes the word “thermoblock”, uses steam pressure, or touts how foamy it makes your Java, then you’re pressing your luck.

  21. Do you guys have Pret A Manger over in the states?

    yes – that’s my favorite lunch spot around wall street actually… never had their coffee. they’re run by mcdonalds??? does that mean the coffee is kept at 211 degrees?

  22. I know y’all addicts don’t want to hear it, but you’ll feel much better if you quit caffeine. After the headaches stop, at least.

  23. Apologies, Rhywun – according to Wikipedia they have a ‘minority stake’ in Pret, or own the properties and franchise them out to Pret to do their thing. My favourite sandwich is the Crayfish and Rocket. I can remember McD’s going on about how healthy Pret was when they were getting it in the neck for destroying the youth of America (as if! everyone knows it’s videogames).

    And MP. Boo to you sir. Boo to you.

  24. Mark: enjoyed the Pret a Manger in the basement of the National Gallery. Glad to see they are in NYC. But just how do you Brits pronounce the name – in the French fashion or what?

  25. Over here we shorten it to Pret and pronounce it exactly like the first syllable of pretzel. Unless of course you have a high paying job in the city and attend history of art classes in the evening at the Royal Academy in which case you say it with full french pretense whilst wearing a beret.

    Come on guys! Get excited about the world cup! Boy, you have you work cut out in your group. USa, Italy, Czech Republic and Ghana. Still, if you get past Ghana you could maybe shock the Italians – they’re in crisis at the moment with the Juventus scandal. The Czechs, however, will stuff you.

  26. My favourite sandwich is the Crayfish and Rocket.

    that sounds very… british – i wonder what it is… something tells me you brits get a different selection than us yanks. our selections lean heavily toward various combinations of turkey, cranberry and avocado. my favorite is the caesar salad. but the best part is no waiting for them to make it – very important here in NYC.

  27. Mark, prepare for a disturbingly strong U.S. run.

  28. What is this “World Cup” you speak of? Is it baseball-related?

  29. 2000 Starbucks outlets? Did you mean 200,000? There are like 2000 just in my city.

  30. I remember reading an interview with a Brazilian coffee grower who was asked how much the Starbucks craze has added to coffee consumption and, therefore, his business.

    His reply was: “Starbucks does not sell coffee, they sell milk” and pointed how much more volume Starbucks sells in milk over coffee.

  31. My favourite sandwich is the Crayfish and Rocket.

    that sounds very… british – i wonder what it is

    Aaaah they mysterious nomencalture of shellfish. Crayfish are like big shrimp with pincers. They rock my world. Jesus, Pret do a christmas combo of turkey, cranberry and check this MAYONNAISE, in the same goddamn sandwich!!! Cranberry and mayo! Yuck! Makes me wretch just thinking about it.

    That sort of sandwich preparation isn’t just wrong – it’s immoral.

  32. Maybe it’s just a latent puritanical streak, but I’ve been unable to plunk down $3.50-$4.00 for Starbucks’ stuff ever since I bought a $10 Chinese-made personal cappuccino maker a few months ago, given that each fix only costs about a quarter’s worth of premium beans bought at the local supermarket, along with maybe a dime’s worth of milk, water, sugar, and (sometimes) Hershey’s syrup or whipped cream.

    I can occassionally bring myself to go for Dunkin Donuts’ relatively cheaper cappuccinos, but the quality just isn’t up to par with the mermaid brand.

  33. Mark, prepare for a disturbingly strong U.S. run.

    Hhhmm – the states aren’t bad. Reina, McBride, Donovan and Adu, who I haven’t seen play but he’s supposed to be pretty good. We’ve had a round robin sweepstake at work and I picked the USA out of the hat so I’m feeling a need to talk up their chances.

    I can’t wait! England are going to suck. No Rooney. Sigh……

    Also, Rhywun, Crayfish are big shrimps with pincers. Not sure if they’re the same as langoustines?

  34. Rhywun – Crayfish/crawfish isn’t a foreign concept in the US – are you from a region where that’s not the case?

    Mark – i’d guess, since “crayfish” is a common-enough word, that “Rocket” is the foodstuff of question.

  35. Mark – i’d guess, since “crayfish” is a common-enough word, that “Rocket” is the foodstuff of question.

    Really? Oh, OK. It’s lettuce.

  36. Crayfish/crawfish isn’t a foreign concept in the US

    i know what crayfish are… it’s the “rocket” part i was having difficulty fathoming. i was thinking it might be some sort of rhyming slang…

  37. Hi rhywun:

    had figgered it was “rocket” that was the issue…

    Mark has enlightened both of us. (prob’ly brits are still sensitive to “iceberg” references. i keed)

  38. Come on guys! Get excited about the world cup!

    Sorry. NBA playoffs. Nowitzki is the only Euro with a ball I’m concerned with right now. Mavs in 5.

    Cranberry and mayo! Yuck! Makes me wretch just thinking about it.

    Actually it’s the shit. My post Thanksgiving sandwich is white bread (preferably Sunbeam), turkey, canned cranberry sauce (the jelly kind you can slice) and a heart stopping glob of Hellmann?s mayo. Throw in a glass of sweet iced tea and we’re talking white boy heaven.

  39. I’m surprised ‘Rocket’ hasn’t taken the States by Storm – it’s a fullproof way of charging people an extra $5-7 for a few leaves. Plus – it sounds sophisticated, and people will part with all the money under the sun if they think it will make them look good at dinner. It’s kinda peppery – often served with Spinach.

    Personally, my favourite food group is Lucky Charms.

  40. Sorry. NBA playoffs. Nowitzki is the only Euro with a ball I’m concerned with right now. Mavs in 5.

    HA! Basketball sucks! ( I realise these are fighting words) I went to a Knicks, Celtics game in NY and even though some beanpole tied the game with the last throw of the ball, sending it into overtime, by that point I was so bored, all I could do to amuse myself was try to pick my nose with one of the excellent foam hands I had purchased. And Nowitzki sounds like the sort of person who’s wanted in the Hague for Serbo-Croat war crimes.

    The only North American sport I am prepared to accept as potentailly awesome is Ice Hockey. For a number of reasons – speed, fights and strong player adherence to ridiculous facial hair.

  41. Well there’s your problem. You went to a Knicks game. Please don’t hold the Knicks against the rest of the league. They are more of a work release program than an NBA franchise. Watch the Suns/Mavs series if you want to see how great basketball can be.

    Here is how most Americans veiw the World Cup:

    Team USA beat Latvia.

    That’s cool.

    Team USA got stuffed by the Czechs.

    Who gives a shit? It’s soccer.

  42. I wonder if they can get the same market share as McDonlads since their product line is so limited. You can get a coffee in McDonalds, but you can’t get a burger in Starbucks (yet).

  43. It’s a perennial drunken discussion in Europe (when I say Europe I actually just mean with my friends) about how long it will take for the States to become a force in football. We normally conclude that within our lifetimes, fifty, sixty years then we might well see Team USA get to the semi-finals. Maybe not. It would be great if there was a sport that everyone cared about that the States and Europe could play each other at. (The Olympics? Bbbooooorrriinggg. It’s like a three week long keep-fit tape).

  44. ” It would be great if there was a sport that everyone cared about that the States and Europe could play each other at.”

    only for europeans.

    the “competitive at parlor games” mentality doesn’t manifest itself in that way over on this side of the pond…..

  45. the “competitive at parlor games” mentality doesn’t manifest itself in that way over on this side of the pond

    Is that because you’re rising above us or simply afraid of getting beaten?

    And everyone’s always bagging on the Mexicans – they’re an untapped footballing resource! You guys should have scouts all over california and in thirty years time you’ll be set for world football domination.

  46. It’s a perennial drunken discussion in Europe (when I say Europe I actually just mean with my friends) about how long it will take for the States to become a force in football. We normally conclude that within our lifetimes, fifty, sixty years then we might well see Team USA get to the semi-finals.

    If we get the bug out of our ass about immigration we could probably cut that in half. I read a great article a while back that suggested we should recruit Team USA from East LA city parks rather than East Coast universities if we’re serious about competing on the world stage.

  47. I see we cross posted Mark. But, it just make sense that a team of guys that grew up with the game in their blood and are used to a tougher style of play might be better than a team of pampered suburbanites.

    But then again who gives a shit? It’s only soccer.

  48. I’m not sure the U.S. team isn’t capable of making it to the semis right now, though I wouldn’t put money on them actually doing so. This is the first U.S. team that can actually score goals. Whoa.

    Usually, whatever “goodness” our team has is limited to goalkeeping and defense. Great to have if you can counter, not good enough to go all the way if you can’t.

  49. “the “competitive at parlor games” mentality doesn’t manifest itself in that way over on this side of the pond

    Is that because you’re rising above us or simply afraid of getting beaten?”

    again, neither.

  50. We normally conclude that within our lifetimes, fifty, sixty years then we might well see Team USA get to the semi-finals.

    If a handball call hadn’t been overlooked in the US-Germany quarterfinals match in ’02, it might’ve already happened. Though it is going to be tough to get out of the opening round this time, given how the team was shafted by the draw.

    The World Cup is practically the only soccer event that I care to watch. Partly because of the drama added by the nationalist element, and partly because there’s something to be said for paying a little attention to the world’s largest sports spectacle.

    Beyond the World Cup, soccer feels too much like a tranquilized, lithium-addled version of ice hockey for me to care much about it. Especially since I’m not a huge hockey fan to start with.

  51. I would comment on it, but I need some caffeine right now. I will back after I get my dose.

  52. >I’m surprised ‘Rocket’ hasn’t taken the States
    >by Storm – it’s a fullproof way of charging
    >people an extra $5-7 for a few leaves. Plus – it
    >sounds sophisticated, and people will part with
    >all the money under the sun if they think it
    >will make them look good at dinner. It’s kinda
    >peppery – often served with Spinach.

    Never fear. American restaurateurs have been gouging their clients for some time: “Rocket” in British, “Arugula” in Italian.

  53. Team USA beat Latvia.

    That’s cool.

    Team USA got stuffed by the Czechs.

    Who gives a shit? It’s soccer.

    May be the US losing badly in basketball and baseball the last few years will get Americans excited about soccer. Americans do not like soccer because they are not good in it (the we are number one mentality). Getting their asses kicked in ‘their’ sports (baseball and basketball) and their soccer team getting better might change things in the near future.

    Mark, The knicks are the worst, most boring team to watch in basketball. For fun games, check out the western conference games. They are especially exciting this year. But whatever you do, do not make the mistake of trying to watch a baseball game otherwise you might commit suicide from boredom.

  54. When I read “World Cup in 10 days” I thought that a new coffee shop was opening in your neighborhood.

    College Football in 90 days

  55. The Olympics, It’s like a three week long keep-fit tape.

    If they are to ever make the Olympics interesting, they need to bring back death-match gladiators. I’ll fly to friggin’ Bejing to watch that!

  56. I am eternally grateful to Generation X for spawning the market for good coffee. Hippies loved only dope and Boone’s Farm, disparaging coffee as a tool of the Running Dogs.

    Thus, for nearly two decades it was almost impossible to get a cup of coffee that was drinkable. Unless, of course, one resided in San Francisco or Seattle.

    I wouldn’t give you a nickel for a latte or one of those carmel frappacino things Mrs TWC drinks, but it’s hard to beat the real coffee they serve. Ditto Peets. And in a trickel down market effect all eateries have been forced to offer better coffee.

  57. May be the US losing badly in basketball and baseball the last few years will get Americans excited about soccer.

    Maybe, but I think a more likely outcome will be greater pressure on American NBA and MLB stars to play for their country as well as a re-thinking of how to build a national team. You’re already seeing it with basketball. The latest incarnation of Team USA is built around which players fit the international style of play (which is tilted against the dominate the paint style of the NBA) rather than which players will sell the most jerseys. The coaching staff is also more internationally savvy. Mike D’antoni, shirtless Champaign swilling hero of Italian basketball, is an assistant coach on the US squad.

    Also, I don’t think national pride in international sports is as big a deal in the US now as it was in the Cold War. Back in the day you could get revved up for a USA vs. USSR showdown. These days? foreign teams have familiar NBA faces on them. If you’re a Spurs fan how pissed can you be that Argentina won the Gold since their star player, Ginobili, is your star player too? Plus, with the behavior of some American superstars, rooting for Lithuania isn’t all that bad an option.

  58. Sometimes I think that if the U.S. actually won the World Cup, that would be the final straw. The rest of the world would freak out and nuke us.

    I may be grossly misunderstanding the importance of soccer to the rest of the world, however.

  59. Sometimes I think that if the U.S. actually won the World Cup, that would be the final straw. The rest of the world would freak out and nuke us.

    I may be grossly misunderstanding the importance of soccer to the rest of the world, however.

  60. I’m not sure how anyone can say the US is “not good” when just 4 years ago, they outplayed the eventual runners-up. By most accounts, we are better (on paper) now. We are certainly proven better than those filthy Tricolores scum (and we were rewarded by getting shafted when it came time to seed the 8 groups).

    It’s amazing that we still manage to do it without a true star on the team. Donovan is the closest, followed by maybe McBride who was just chosen as the Fulham Supporters’ POY.

    Whoever mentioned Adu has got to keep up better. He’s whiny teenager who has yet to grow up. It will be a long time before he’s on a Bruce Arena-led team. He’s small and still weak and dives too much. His attitude sucks. He’s far, far away from the full US team. He has the potential to be absolutely amazing, but he needs to drop the prima donna routine.

    And who the hell is Reina? I remember a Spanish goalkeeper by that name. It’s Reyna. You’ve got to do better than that. 🙂 He plays regularly at Man City. Don’t tell me a Yank knows more about your league than you.

    As for the NBA, holy crap what a snoozefest. The only reason I gave a damn was that the Cavs finally are good again and they have an actual star player.

  61. How can any soccer/football fan call any other sport a snooze fest? We’re talking about a sport so boring the fans have to beat the shit out of each other just to keep things interesting.

  62. You might want to get an original insult.

    It would be an amusing jab if it were true, especially when you consider that quite often entire college campuses can be sent into a conflagration after a loss OR a win.

    Ditto for pro teams and their cities.

    Unfortunately for you, it’s overplayed and hackneyed, which makes it a whole lot like the NBA, baseball, and the NFL – pretty damn boring.

  63. I like soccer. I also like pro and college football. The NBA has sucked since the late 80s, but college basketball is still good. Baseball has its uses. Hockey is okay, but nothing more than that. Bullfighting is great at the collegiate level, but the professional version lacks heart 🙂

  64. Let’s do a quick Google News search for “soccer match violence” and “football match violence” shall we? Ooh what have we here?

    May 19, 2006
    Sierra Leone: Aftermath of Soccer Match: Let’s Put a Stop to Hooliganism

    “It is rather strange that violence has become so synonymous with soccer these days that hardly does a week passes by without hearing of any incidence of this satanic practice.”

    May 30,2006
    Shocker for EFCC – 1 feared dead in Jos

    “One soccer fan was feared dead in Jos Sunday during a league match between Mighty Jets of Jos and visiting FC Abuja.”

    May 30, 2006
    Argentine police will watch hooligans in Germany

    “The Argentine government will send ten Federal Police officers to Dusseldorf, Germany, on Sunday, to watch “barra brava” (fight club) members expected to go to Germany from across Argentina, local media said Monday.”

    May 25, 2006
    Crowds well behaved for Socceroos

    “THE 95,000 crowd that watched Australia defeat Greece by 1-0 in a pre-World Cup friendly soccer match tonight were mainly well behaved, police say. Senior Constable Wayne Wilson warned violence could still erupt as thousands of fans remained inside the MCG and nearby carpark, but no major incidents occurred during the match.”

    May 15, 2006
    Berlin: Hooligans clash, police watch

    “A 1,000-man police force failed to prevent violence between hooligans at a soccer match in Berlin, Germany.”

    May 30, 2006
    Schmid pledges security drive

    “Switzerland’s sports minister Samuel Schmid has expressed the view that additional measures will be necessary to combat hooliganism ahead of UEFA EURO 2008?.”

    May 30, 2006
    Known hooligans surrender passports

    “Thousands of known England football hooligans are handing their passports over to police today ahead of the nationwide, Fifa-backed, World Cup banning order deadline.”

    May 15, 2006
    Basel face stiff penalties over match violence

    “The Swiss Football League (SFL) says it is ready to impose “severe” penalties on Basel after hundreds of the club’s supporters went on the rampage following Saturday’s title decider.”

    Hackneyed joke – yes. Accurate stereotype – yes.

    But, I don’t blame soccer fans. If I just sat through a 90 minute, 0-0 blue-ball fest I’d want to punch somone and set fire to a Peugeot too.

  65. I think it’s funny how most of the world thinks we are so violent here in the US, yet it’s Europeans, Latin Americans, Africans, etc that maim and kill each other over a sporting event.

    My sport is ice hockey…it’s got it all, but I also don’t care if somebody doesn’t like it. I don’t like basketball that much or soccer, and I’m a fairly avid sports fan and played pretty much every single sport or game known to mankind (ok, haven’t played a lot of the obscure ball games, but you get my drift).

  66. Citing a story from Sierra Leone is a big helping of missing the point. They’ve been warring for years now. The fact that sport is proxy for politics and genocide has nothing to do with the nature of the game itself.

    I imagine the fact that a truce was called Ivory Coast’s civil war in order to celebrate their qualification is something you didn’t find.

    Fact is, if tiddlywinks, bocce, field hockey, Ultimate Fighting, lacrosse, or whatever the fuck you want had been the national sport of most of the nations where there HAS been violence, you’d be saying the same bullshit about them.

    The violence stems from cultural, political and especially ethnic tensions. Sport is a forum and a proxy battleground for these tensions. It’s where the (sometimes literally) warring parties meet. The fact that it happens at soccer matches is ancillary.

    As for your other stories: #2 involves another West African nation known for its civil war, #3 talks about the (vastly overhyped) fears of hooliganism at the World Cup – because of past violence, authorities put out scary press releases about cracking down; it is very rare for something to happen at the World Cup (btw, “barra brava” doesn’t mean “fight club” anywhere I can find).

    #4, nothing happened. This despite the fact that there is a huge Greek immigrant population in Oz and there’s a recent history of major tensions and violence against the Lebanese community and other immigrant communities (including Balkans and Greeks) completely unrelated to soccer.

    #5, no context, but perhaps your first legitimate citation. That said, Berlin and Germany at large have a similar, but lower-level set of immigrant issues as France.

    #6, so the Swiss sports minister is talking of stepped-up security ahead of a major event. Never heard of that before in the US. This is no different than any major tournament. Politicians know the perception of hooliganism. They try to sound tough. Yay.

    #7, this has been going on since the problems in the ’70s and ’80s. England has brought their domestic problem very much under control, mostly due to pricing out the groups most likely to fight: pissed-off youths. They’ve banned known hooligans for ages from traveling. Again, these guys get a rush out of fighting in public. Nothing’s more public than a big match. It has precious little to do with a particluar sport.

    #8, hey, another real example! Tell me, how often does the NCAA fine the living shit out of Ohio State or Maryland or wherever after the students rampage?

    Point is, thousands of professional matches come off each and every week without a problem. This despite the massive stage this particular sport commands and provides for long-held political and ethnic grudges or social battles.

    The critics are right about one thing: in most other nations, the propensity for real organized violence is more likely higher elsewhere than in the US. The US also has one of the highest rates of assimilation and ethnic mixing in the world, if not THE highest. People, by and large, get along.

    None of the forgoing is going to budge any of the people for whom what was mentioned above represents a different picture from what they are convinced soccer is about. Their minds are made up.

    And here I am thinking posters here were mostly immune to that sort of thinking.

  67. BTW, the notion that we can just pick up a bunch of Hispanic rec league guys from LA and win something is pretty laughable. There are loads of talented players who get passed up because scouting those areas isn’t nearly what it should be. There are also even bigger loads of craptacular hacks in those leagues.

    The fact that an ethnic group has “grown up” with soccer “in their blood” doesn’t make them good automatically. It usually just makes them hot-headed pricks when a good team of Gringos beats the crap out of them.

    There’s more than enough talent in the areas that are scouted. There needs to be more from the inner cities and Hispanic areas. Of course DeMarcus Beasley, Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey (to name just three) aren’t exactly white-bread suburb-dwellers.

    The notion that the US is made up of a bunch of priveledged white kids from Northern Virginia or the Ivy League is pretty antiquated.

  68. Anyone know where I can get some free trade coffee? I mean gourmet beans that undercut Starbucks, not Folger’s rotgut. I’ve been searching for this on the Interweb for months to no avail. Maybe I should just become a wholesaler.

  69. It’s Reyna. You’ve got to do better than that. 🙂 He plays regularly at Man City.

    Aaah, apologies Timon. Spelling isn’t my strong point. I was certainly thinking of the city midfielder but spelt it like the Liverpool keeper.

    Hooliganism is a problem with with a small ‘p’. People seem incapable of realising that if you get 70,000 drunk men in the same place there’s a good chance of a few problems. If a bunch of dumb idiots from one country want to beat up a bunch of dumb idiots from another then I couldn’t care less.

    What irritates me is the romantic idea that people have of Italian and South American football as if their fan’s shit doesn’t stink and that hooliganism is the sole reserve of England and Germany. Try going to a Bari game in a Juventus shirt and see how long you last! National Geographic has a pretty pathetic spread on football this month along those lines. One of the headlines is

    ‘Spanish football – morality play’.

    Idiots.

    Anyway, England are going to win the world cup so sit back and enjoy!

  70. It was a broad generalization based on extreme examples and stereotypes. Some people would call that a joke – like American soccer.

    I’m sure that most football fans exhibit behavior no worse than your typical Philadelphia fan. However, evidence suggests that the odds of getting your head stomped by a pair of Dr. Martens go way up at a soccer match.

  71. Among top 15 in the world != joke.

    Apologies if you were making yet another joke (or excuse for tired jabs). Surely you can do better than the old standbys.

  72. Not really. But if the jab ain’t broke why fix it?

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