I was reading an article somewhere today where Sol Campbell questioned UEFA’s decision to award Poland/Ukraine the European championships this summer. If anybody at all got the chance to read my EURO2012 guide which I began yesterday, I think you will find the timing is right to bring up this question. There is no doubting all countries should have the right to host a major sports festival, unless it’s in the middle of a war zone. But Sol makes an excellent point. Anybody of the 35+ vintage will forever have etched in their memories the horrific and disturbing images of opposing fans of British football teams kicking and punching 10 bells out of each other and especially on their trips abroad. Not meaning to blame all hooliganism in the 70s, 80s and 90s on the English but boy they didn’t do things by half. It was infamously labelled the “English Disease” and time and time again it cost them dearly when it came to bidding to host the world cup or European cup.
The problem still exists in England but absolutely nowhere near as rampant as once was and this leads to the question being asked why allow 2 nations with extremely disturbing hooligan problems host a tournament of such proportion?. And this is where the main problem lies, not only is the violence so organised, orchestrated and on such a wide scale but has disturbing undertones of racial hatred and has been a problem that UEFA has clearly failed so miserably in trying to stamp out for a number of years. Racism in English football has been largely stamped out down the years but has raised it’s ugly head a number of times in the season just gone. It is mainly due to the fact that the average English team has at least 30-40% black playing staff and racially abusing a player from an opposing team would be as the proverb says “people in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones”. I think you get the gist.
Even world champions Spain or the other nations with big leagues, Germany and Italy have their fair share of racist problems but you could imagine for sure any team from the more modernised western European nations would be extremely anxious and uneasy to know they were drawn against an old eastern bloc team. Sadly it is part and parcel of their terrace culture and is sickening to hear a barrage of taunts go unchecked by stewards and then only to have the powers that be slap them on the wrist with a paltry 20k fine. Having said that there is a majority of eastern nations supporter’s who are as disgusted with this poison as the rest of us. There is no hiding the fact that this could be a powder keg waiting to explode. There is no doubting the English who want trouble will be there in their thousands. The Dutch, Germans and Russians are others who have a fearsome hooligan element. I just hope the Police are well aware of the potential for trouble that lays ahead and can meet that challenge head on or else people can lose their lives. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that but more importantly let’s hope UEFA crack down hard on racist taunting and abuse. A fore warning of a complete ban from all FIFA competition for a lengthy period might make people open their ear’s.
Hope you can read the 2nd part of my guide to the groups for EURO2012. Group B’s turn tomorrow.