05 February 2007

Damn English Thugs

Yet another major football hoolganism incident happened in continental Europe. In this case, an Italian policeman was murdered by a bunch thugs who had thrown a homemade inciderary device, which subsequently exploded in his face.

This sadly is not an isolated case, the English fans in Germany during the World Cup 2006 were among the best behaved of the fans. There were a couple of incidents that warranted few arrests, but by and large the English fans were well behaved. Not least part of the reason for this was that the German police had a really great policy of non-intervention unless necessary. When I was at the England-Sweden game in the fan enclosure, a cretinous English fan thought it would be clever to set fire to a German flag in front some riot police. The self-policing of the English fans soon ensured that the flag was soon put out (repeated chants of "You are a wanker" soon embarrassed him).

However despite the years of relatively good behaviour, there is still the perception of England fans being the troublemakers abroad. Repeatedly, the England team is threatened with expulsion from tournaments due to a small percentage of people getting drunk and causing problems. Some while ago (just after Euro 2004 to be precise) I posted on Usenet a counter-argument about English football hooligans which I have reproduced below
  • The largest incident of hooliganism in the tournament so far has between Germany and Holland fans.
  • Portuguese police have praised the English fans behaviour in recent weeks.
  • The "rioting" in the first week was well away from any games being played by England, and has been attributed to excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Any fan deported from Portugal will be subject to a ban ranging from 2 to 5 years (IIRC). This has already been used in this tournament

Some other hooliganism facts:

  • English fans have not instigated a major hooliganism incident for 5/6 years, both at club and national level
  • During the 1998 World Cup a French policeman nearly died after being badly beaten by German fans.
  • In 2000 two Leeds United supporters were stabbed to death by followers of the Turkish club Galatasaray
  • Italy's ultras (their organised hooligans) are said to view the English drunkenness with disdain because it impairs the ability to fight.
  • In 2000, Den Bosch (Holland) supporters rioting for three days after a match was called off after a fan was shot
  • In 1998, about 26,000 Manchester United fans travelled to Holland and there were just 28 arrests, mostly just for

Of course, I don't have answer for all these problems, but consistency of treatment would be a good start.

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