NFL executive: “divisive passion of British soccer unique”

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As the home of English soccer prepares to host the NFL this weekend, one of the league’s executives has spoken about the passion for soccer in the UK and how that differs to sports fans in America.

NFL’s executive vice president of international, Mark Waller, has returned to his native land of England to help with the upsurge of interest in the NFL. Three games will be played at Wembley Stadium this fall — Miami host Oakland on Sept. 28, Detroit play Atlanta on Oct. 26 and the Dallas Cowboys play Jacksonville on Nov. 9 — and all three sold out in quick succession.

When asked about the culture of soccer in the UK and how that differs to sports fans in America, Waller emphasized the divisive nature of fans of certain clubs as being the big difference.

From the Associated Press, Waller had the following to say.

“I do fundamentally believe the deep-rooted divisive passion of U.K. soccer is unlike almost any other sports passion I’ve seen,” Waller said. “It’s a very different passion in the U.K.; passion for soccer is actually passion for a team. I love Tottenham and I hate Arsenal.

“That’s not really nearly as much the case in the U.S. Sport generally in the U.S. is unified. It’s a binding power. It’s different, for me, the passion I feel is very different (from soccer).”

Read the article in full here. Do you agree with his comments?