USA fans: England crowd & media disrespectful

RUSTENBURG - American fans arriving for Saturday's keenly anticipated World Cup Group C opening match between the United States and England complained that their opponents have shown them a lack of respect.

Not only do they feel they have made great progress with their world ranking - the Americans are up to 14th while England are eighth - thanks to improved international performances but that their soccer has developed enormously.

They feel these factors have been ignored by English supporters and the British media.

"Soccer is such a popular game now in the States," said Steve Heard, a native of San Francisco, currently living in Paris. "People outside America don't appreciate how much it has grown and how many people play it and follow it.

"I am not talking about women and kids - lots of men play now and our leagues are growing everywhere. It is becoming a really big sport for us and you will see that here with the number of Americans at this game.

"I do think there is a lack of respect, yes. People don't know about American soccer and we are not a traditional soccer nation, but that is changing all the time.

"We love it and, for me, it is my absolute number one sport. That is why we are here to back our team. But I don't expect things to change much until all our best players are playing in our own league."


FIFA officials confirmed on Friday that the organisers had sold more tickets for the game to American fans than English supporters.

"I think there will be a lot of fans, but not as many as some people said because it is so expensive to fly here," added Steve's partner Kristyn Falkenstern, from upper-state New York.

"I have heard of people buying their tickets first and then deciding not to come because they can't afford the travel costs and then travelling and staying here in South Africa."

They said they expected around 30,000 Americans to attend the World Cup.

Heard and Falkenstern went to Germany to support the U.S. team in 2006 and believe they have improved sufficiently to give England, and their fans, a sharp reminder not to sit on the laurels of their past.

"I don't know if we can win this game but I just hope we can give a good performance. England may not want to be reminded, but we have a 100 per cent record against them in the World Cup so we want to keep that going if we can!"

The U.S. famously beat England 1-0 in their only previous finals meeting in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1950.

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