Russian, US sailors face off in soccer

June 23, 2010 7:36:17 PM PDT
If it seems the world has gone more than a little soccer-crazy during the World Cup, that's no accident. The game serves as an international bridge, with a language all its own, that anyone who loves the game understands. If you still don't believe that there was a small example of that in San Francisco on Wednesday.

For those of you who have not yet had enough excitement from the day's international soccer, there was another event on Wednesday that world's media missed -- all, that is, except ABC7.

It wasn't the World Cup, but instead, a friendly game on Treasure Island between the American and Russian navies. The Russians even brought out their own band.

Teams from the U.S.S. Bunker Hill matched wits and kicks with the Russian cruiser Varyag, which won 3-1. Most of the players were hardly old enough to remember the Cold War or to consider that in another time, crews from these ships could have been shooting missiles at each other, instead of soccer balls.

"It was competitive, but there was no international pressure," said U.S. goalie Jane Drury.

Wednesday's match did not happen by accident. The Varyag timed its visit with that of Russian President Medvedev. While here, the crew observed more serious moments, like the laying of a wreath to Russian sailors who died here in 1853, but Wednesday was no a day for such formalities.

The Russian and U.S. sailors celebrated with hot dogs and hamburgers. On Treasure Island, two of the greatest nations achieved a level of détente.

"At the end of the day, a sailor is a sailor. It doesn't matter where they come from," says U.S. sailor Kevin Logan.