Whitley's Believe It Or Not | Compared to SEC football, soccer's a real riot, especially in Italy

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
Los Angeles Galaxy soccer fans are known as the LA Riot Squad but it is not believed they ever have done anything close to the incident that happened last week in Italy.

So you think SEC fans are overly obsessed with football? At least none of the league’s coaches have had a pig’s head delivered to their office.

It happened last week to UC Sampdoria vice president Antonio Romei and ex-president Massimo Ferrero. You probably don’t recognize the names, but all you need to know is that Sampdoria is a soccer team. In Italy. And someone is upset at how the season is going.

Cue “The Godfather” music.

It’s not exactly news that soccer fans all over the world can get a tad carried away. Though to be fair, it’s just a few million that make the other billion look bad.

Riots have killed thousands over the years. El Salvador and Honduras literally went to war after a match in 1969.

As rowdy as SEC football Saturdays can be, visiting fans don’t have to travel to games in armored vehicles. Auburn boosters never left a severed horse's head in Bryan Harsin’s bed, though that reportedly is next on their dirty trick list.

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Jim McElwain only imagined he was getting death threats at Florida. The execs at Sampdoria got a letter containing a bullet last month.

“This time it’s blank,” the note read, “the next one will be true.”

All of which should make guys like Billy Napier feel a sense of relief when they open their mail. As harsh and wacky as SEC fans can get, soccer lovers will always be in a league of their own …

Stud of the Week: The San Francisco Giants, for lowering the price of a 14-ounce beer (domestic only) from $14 to $9 for the upcoming season.

Dud of the Week: The San Francisco Giants, for charging $14 for a 14-ounce beer in the first place.

Dud II: The three courtside goobers at the O’Connell Center who grabbed Kentucky’s Cason Wallace when he hustled after a loose ball on the sideline and wouldn’t let him go. UF basketball has enough problems these days without its fans acting like soccer fans.

Can LIV get a mulligan for its first TV ratings of the 2023 season?

Dud III: LIV Golf ratings. The final round of the season-opening Mayakoba tournament in Mexico drew an 0.2 rating. That sound you heard was LIV ringleader Greg Norman waking up and finding the Nielsen ratings report in his bed. …

Dud IV: Cashman Field, the converted minor-league soccer field that is home to the XFL’s Las Vegas Defenders. The dead-grass field was spray-painted green for the game against the Washington Vipers, and a rainstorm turned it into a comical slip-and-slide. On the bright side, the game drew fewer viewers than a LIV Pro-Am …

Speaking of Vegas, kudos to its citizens who raised money to return a stray cat to its home in Alabama. Raven disappeared in December 2021 after apparently hitching a ride under a truck headed to Nevada.

She was found wandering near an interstate highway last week, and a microchip confirmed her identity. Raven’s a big Alabama fan, and her owner theorized she went to Vegas and lost all her life savings betting on the Crimson Tide to beat Georgia in the 2021 College Football Playoff. …

The Athletic reported last week that Russell Wilson not only got a personalized support staff when he signed with Denver, he was given his own office at Broncos headquarters. Wilson’s public relations officer said the QB needed the extra space to study tapes of all his interceptions last season. …

Texas A&M’s Department of Animal Science has announced new security measures to protect its pigs this fall in case Jimbo Fisher struggles and boosters get any ideas. …   

Correction: The XFL’s Spray Painting Department informs me it’s actually the Las Vegas Vipers and the Washington Defenders. I’d like to apologize to all 28 Vipers fans who were at the game. …

Dan Snyder is no fan of Jeff Bezos

Speaking of Washington D.C. football, Dan Snyder reportedly has barred Amazon boss Jeff Bezos from bidding for the Commanders. Bezos owns the Washington Post, which has reported extensively on the “toxic workplace culture” at Commanders headquarters.

Not only that, Snyder has barred Amazon from delivering any copies of his new book “How to Build a Toxic Culture that Destroys an NFL Franchise”…

Update: A microchip has revealed Seattle traded a fake Russell Wilson to Denver last season. The Broncos have threatened to sue the Seahawks if they don’t send them the real one. …

MLB bases are now three square inches larger, prompting Boston manager to say they look like pizza boxes. Ironically, a pizza slice at MLB games tastes like second base. But they only charge $37 for it in San Francisco. …

That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. If you were displeased with the results, please don’t include any animal parts in your letter to the editor.

David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley