Well, day three of the Euro’s and a fine start to the Welsh campaign which sets up the battle with England nicely. England played well and will be disappointed with a draw after such a performance but the football has been overshadowed by the behaviour of fans inside and outside the stadium both last night and since at least Thursday night.
The images of innocent people being attacked is appalling and shows that some people are using sport as an excuse to attack others for no reason other than their ethnicity.
I remember after a hooligan outbreak at an FA Cup quarter final between Luton and Millwall Margaret Thatcher summoned the FA chairmen, an old gentleman by the name of Bert Millichip to Downing Street and said ‘what are you going to do about your hooligans?’ He replied ‘they’re YOUR hooligans and we don’t want them at OUR football matches’.
I know it’s not even 24 hours since the match between England and Russian but certain issues need to be addressed;
- there need to be police inside the stadium as well as out. Last night was a reminder that people are not just threatened by terrorists but by other football fans.
- French policing needs to be more intelligent, from what I saw, there wasn’t any shown, and the Riot Squad don’t differentiate between those trying to cause trouble and those running away from it.
- I don’t know whether alcohol is sold inside French football grounds but they might need to review that. I also hope wasted and loaded fans aren’t being allowed in to matches.
- FIFA need to consider the implications for football fans if the World Cup is going to take place in Russia in two years time.
- UEFA, the European football authority, need to press the French government to police Russian matches more intensely for the rest of the tournament. The match against Slovakia should, for political and historical reasons be trouble free, but there is also a match against Wales to consider.
Why Russian fans. I have a theory. I think some Russian men are having a problem with the loss of status in the world since the fall of communism. They now have once friendly countries joined up with Nato and pointing their weapons at them. Actions in Ukraine, Georgia and Syria are an attempt to reassert Russian strength. The combination of chauvinism with alcohol is not a pretty mixture. I think the same factors can affect English fans. One chant that used to be popular when they played Germany, might still be for all I know, is ‘two World Wars and one World Cup’. English football has come a long way since the 1970s and 1980s and anyone convicted of a football related offence has to hand over their passport to the police and report to a station at regular intervals.
It may be that last night was the worst of events involving supporters. I hope so and hope we can get back to enjoying the sport, starting with Turkey in an hour, followed by Northern Ireland and Germany later.
Things I recommend; sense and perspective.
- not all Russian football fans are violent. This isn’t my opinion. English football fans who were are the match speaking to reporters afterwards said this.
- not all English fans are angels. There have been reports of English football fans trying to provoke Marseille’s north African population with chants about the Islamic state.
Things I don’t recommend; hysterical biased presentation of information.