Football Violence & Racism - Football History - 2000's

Football Violence

Football violence in the 1990's was seriously reduced from the levels of the 1970's and 1980's.  The figures above are the result of 'better' reporting by the press.  Also, note that little was reported of violence in UK.  In 1990, The Taylor Report on the Hillsborough disaster brought home the dangers and put paid to a lot of home-based violence, due to better police control.

There were a series of violent scenes in a number of countries.  And some countries had no violence, largely due to the police control in those countries.  Certainly, violence did occur, but away from the football grounds, where police could not control it and where it was pre-organised by groups (firms).  Alcohol more often than not also played a part in violent issues.  Local 'firms' and bad policing drew drunken English fans into brawls, which the news-hungry press blew out of all proportion.

The onset of The Premier League meant that stadiums became all-seaters and more fans attended matches.  The game of football became a family affair and youngsters drove their parents mad in wanting to buy 'strips' and other souvenirs!

The English Press continued to assert that Football Hooligans travelled with fans with intent to cause violence.  However, Stott and Pearson's 'Football Hooliganism: Policing the War on the English Disease' (2007 Pennant Books), argued against this theory, blaming local police and fans for aggravating the situation.

In various media reports regarding the 2000 European Championships between England and Germany, between 370 -  950 English fans were arrested in Charleroi, Belgium, many being deported back to UK in a specially chartered ship.  An English fan was stabbed, but recovered in hospital.  It was reported that a Turkish member of Charleroi's population was to blame for the stabbing.  Genuine English fans arriving by Eurostar and by 'plane were turned back again.

Belgian police had fired tear gas to control the violence and warned of a 'double zero tolerance' policy.  but it is considered antagonistic of the police to first threaten to close an Irish bar and then fire tear gas into it when fans decided they did not want it closed.

Just 30 fans appeared in court in Belgium, contesting charges of inciting violence and vandalism.  The local mayor described their behaviour as 'disgusting' and supporting the police 'hard-line' tactics.  The Home Office Minister of the time, Lord Bassam, also supported the police.

 

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Violence in Charleroi at Euro 2000

All the above violence occurred on the day before the match, increasing tensions in the town where over 16,000 English fans were due to arrive on match day.  A minority of English fans, assisted by police tactics and rival trouble-makers, had spoiled the enjoyment of thousands.

More violence was experienced at other International games during the 2000's.  The reportage always varied and the local police tactics of dubious nature.  Local troublemakers singling out drunken fans or English 'firms'.

At the 2001 Champions League match between AS Roma and Liverpool FC, Italian police tear gassed brawlers, where 4 Liverpool FC fans were stabbed.

Again, in 2006, 3 Middlesborough fans were stabbed before the UEFA Cup match against AS Roma in Rome.  The blame was placed on Roman Ultras.

 

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Stade du pays de Charleroi - the stand designed for 25,000 people was expected to 'house' up to 40,000 for Euro 2000

In 2007 AS Roma and Manchester United FC played the UEFA Champions League match and a Manchester United FC fan was stabbed.  Eleven others were taken to hospital, along with 2 AS Roma fans.  The head of Rome police claimed that the police action was justified and no action would be taken.

Italian football history of January and February 2007 is awash with reports of violence, including the deaths of fans officials and police.  The 2012 European Championships were supposed to be held in Italy, but seemingly serious disorder and ground closures put paid to that.  So football violence was not just the remit of the English, despite the label "The English Disease".  Italy, Eastern Europe, Holland and Belgium all have worse records of football violence than UK.  In sub-Saharan Africa and South America, the problems are worse still.

Racism in Football

 

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The German Federal Archive are acknowledged for the use of this image of violence between Lokomotive Leipzig fans before their team's encounter with Dynamo Schwerin in the FDGB-Pokal in 1990

Even up to 2012, racism has prevailed in Association Football.  Probably the highest profile case was in the 2011/12 season, in a match between Chelsea FC and Queens Park Rangers FC.  The Chelsea and England Captain, John Terry, was caught on tape allegedly abusing Anton Ferdinand.  Taken to court, the case was dismissed because it was unclear as to what had been said.  Possibly, Terry had been lucky.

Not so lucky were Aldershot Town FC and Barnet FC, both clubs being fined for an incident by Danny Hylton of Aldershot, who racially abused opponents twice during the match.  The abuse ended in a brawl between the clubs.  Hylton was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012/13 season.

A 29 year old Arsenal fan was arrested in March 2012, having been caught racially abusing Cheik Tiote of Newcastle United FC.  Caught on camera by SkySports, he was found guilty.

Maybe racism is a form of 'mental violence'?  It seems to crop up with alarming regularity.  You don't get football medals for it..!

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