Mind­less foot­ball fans

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

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

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