Mindless football fans
FOOTBALL is a beautiful game. Sadly, the same can’t be said about some football fans. A month-long festival of football, and all that is good about the sport that supposedly unites us all, is being played out in France in the form of the European championships. Teams from 24 nations are taking part in the tournament that rolls around every four years. Sadly, it’s the incidents off the pitch that are making headlines, rather than the skills of the players.
Since the tournament kicked off last Friday, English football fans have been engaged in a series of riots with French police, mostly in and around the old port area of Marseille. Two people are critical, dozens injured and many arrested as these hooligans threw bottles and chairs — and anything else they could get their hands on — at riot police, who responded with tear gas, water cannon and batons. In the Stade Velodrome on Saturday night, violence also flared after the game, when supporters of Russia and England engaged in a full-blown melee after the 1-1 draw. Sadly, the horde of hooligans who call themselves football supporters are nothing more than louts who travelled to France without tickets and welcome the running street battles as some form of perverse sport in itself. But it seems as if French authorities, while concentrating on potential terrorist attacks, forgot about the potential for violence inside stadiums. Police forces from all across Europe who deal with football rivalries every match day have ample expertise in dealing with these issues, as do football association officials. They need to be consulted quickly, and measures taken immediately, to ensure this mindless mayhem doesn’t spoil the tournament. — Gulf News