As international soccer fans already know, England failed to qualify for Euro 2008. That doesn't mean much to us here, but it means a hell of a lot over there. So of course a new coach is in order.
Well, the main target of England's attraction is Fabio Capello, the former Juventus and Real Madrid coach. Nothing wrong with that, except that Capello has a somewhat ultra-right, fascist slant to his political beliefs.
Last year, when Capello headed off for his second tour of duty with Real Madrid, he told the Italian paper Republica: "Spain in two words? Latin warmth and creativity regulated by a rigorous order. The order which comes from Franco."
When reminded that Franco was a dictator, Capello replied: "But he left a legacy of order. In Spain everything works well, there is education, cleanliness, respect. We should follow their example."
Capello may have forgotten that both Mussolini and Hitler sent troops, aircrafts, tanks, and other weapons in support of Franco during the Spanish Civil War. The end result of said war was that Franco wiped out approximately 200,000 of his enemies and established a dictatorship for nearly 40 years under which he subjected his democratic and leftist enemies to forced labor camps, mass exile, prisons, torture and executions.
Capello has also admitted to veering to the far right in his voting in Italy. He began to follow politics in 1968 and after starting off voting for the Italian socialist party, he drifted further to the right, eventually switching to extreme right parties Lega Nord and Forza Italia.
Anti-racism groups have accused Lega Nord of "openly embracing racist and fascist" attitudes. And both Spanish and Italian papers have taken shots at Capello calling him a fascist sympathizer.
What makes Capello's political beliefs even more strange is that his father spent time in a Nazi concentration camp.
Capello of course tried to backtrack on his statements, claiming he didn't believe in totalitarianism. But his voting record, and his less-than-intelligent spoken words, still linger.
The fact of the matter is that for most Europeans facism still stings deeply, since a number of countries were under fascist control during WWII. And some, like Spain, for a much longer period of time.
Yet at the same time, England appears ready to make this guy their national team coach before Christmas.
I'm not sure what the American equivalent of this would be. I think, and I'm being serious here, that if U.S. Basketball Team coach Mike Krzyzewski said he really liked the way Stalin got things done that would be about the same.
And I assume we'd all think long and hard about whether we'd still want him to be our country's head coach.