Burning our flag should incite U.S. payback

Burning our flag should incite U.S. payback

Published Jun. 7, 2010 9:33 p.m. ET

Now you’ve crossed the line.

On Thursday afternoon of last week, a mob of despondent Liverpool supporters burned U.S. flags in protest of American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Jr.

Really? This group of myopic peasants took it upon themselves to desecrate the American flag – the Stars and Stripes which represents 300 million people – on the basis of two men’s actions (or in some cases, inaction)?

That’s not just any flag. That’s my flag.


You may think that Americans really don’t know much about your football, and we certainly don’t have the esteemed football culture that has rendered mighty England one World Cup trophy on home soil 44 years ago, but you’re wrong.

We do care.

Interested to know which country has purchased the most World Cup tickets for South Africa? That’s right, it’s baseball-loving, Budweiser-drinking, hamburger-grilling America.

I’m thinking of the Team America motto right now … you know the one.

I’m well aware that the U.S. squad in South Africa needs little more motivation to kick England’s butt this Saturday, but I hope this little display of British stupidity ignites a nation.

To be fair, it is a ‘little’ display, as the majority of Liverpool supporters and Britons overall would never condone such idiocy. I’ve been inspired by reading many comments from Reds and England fans alike condemning this behavior with great vigor.

We’re cool.

Yet however ‘little’ this display was at Anfield on Thursday, it simply cannot be ignored. You may think that no American would give a damn about your actions since football isn't our game, but once again, you’re wrong.

I completely understand Liverpool fans’ frustration after a dreadful Premier League season, and if you had chosen to burn posters of the two owners – while still a bit bizarre – I’ve got no problem with that.

But burning a nation’s flag is simply taking the matter too far. It would be easy for me to say ‘it’s just a game,’ but because I love this sport as much you do, I understand that it’s more than that. This game feeds into every emotion we have, and that’s why we love it and, more importantly, need it.

That being said, march around the stadium with banners reading ‘Get out Yanks,’ or ‘Yanks for nothing.’ An even better way to get back at them would be to simply stop going to the matches – an empty Anfield would go a long way towards sending a message.

For all I care you can send Hicks and Gillett a steamy pile of horse manure.

But don’t burn my flag.

We go way back, America and the UK. We’ve fought wars against each other and won ones side by side, and I’m proud to call some of my best friends Englishmen. To those noble English folks who can understand what it would feel like to watch a bunch of Yanks burning the flag of St. George in a public melee, I look forward to a spirited match on Saturday and may the best team on the day win.

But for those 500 or so Liverpool supporters (and most likely fans of the Three Lions) who simply acted before they really thought about what their actions meant to an entire nation, you’ve embarrassed your country, your club and your Queen.

Yeah, I said it.

I hope U.S. fans rally like never before behind our players and give them the support that those folks in England believe is beyond our grasp.

On Saturday, it’ll be time to stop speaking softly and put that big stick to some use.

Robert Burns is the senior editor of FoxSoccer.com.