Sunday, July 22, 2007

Brutally Honest

So the Chileans are lodging an official diplomatic protest about the fight between their soccer team and Toronto police.

They claim they were just standing there signing autographs when the police attacked. Oh yeah, that sounds like something our cops would do. Nothing makes them break out the pepper spray faster than autograph-signing South Americans.

Actually, the Chileans, hot off the field from a game marked by their belligerence and threats (not to mention pretending to be injured) in fact got into a shoving match with some big-mouthed Argentinian fans and streamed out of the team bus to deliver some Chilean goodwill on their skulls. When the police got in the middle to protect the fans, the Chilean team turned on them and got the treatment reserved for all hooligans.

The Chilean government cries these are just children - mere teenagers. Teenagers at their physical and testosterone peaks who are treated like rock stars in other countries in a sport where riots are common.

A friend of mine at the scene told me the Chilean team was aggressive, abusive, violent and out of control, and the Toronto police showed remarkable restraint in dealing with them. The pepper spray and tasers only came out when the police had to defend themselves.

"Police brutality," they sob. Wasn't Chile the country where a few decades ago their police dropped people out of helicopters into the ocean with car batteries tied to their feet?

"Racism," they yell. Isn't this the same team whose supporters throw bananas on the soccer field when playing their rival Ecuador because they consider them monkeys?

And as for the Toronto police, you won't find a police department that is more culturally sensitive, harder to provoke and slow to use force. The paperwork alone hardly makes it worth hitting someone even if they deserve it. Would they wade in and start clubbing and tasering a high profile soccer team for the fun of it? Sorry - I'm not buying it.

That's the kind of thing that happens in South America.