Euro 2016 has been quite a slow burner on the pitch. After 28 matches, the tournament has produced just 51 goals, an average of just 1.82 goals a game. It hasn’t been as exhilarating as Brazil’s group phase two years ago, but off the pitch it has been far from being boring, all for the wrong reasons.
With security tightened up, many were fearing that a terrorist threat or attack could potentially ruin the footballing spectacle. No one was quite ready for the mess that was about to unfold in the streets and stadia from Eastern European Nationalists.
Why have they decided to bring violence across to France when the nation is already on red alert? Because it is a place where they feel they have a voice. The Croatians and Russians have been the leading forces both in the stadiums and in the streets, proclaiming that “UEFA is poisoned by fraud and corruption.”
If that’s so why don’t your national teams agree? The fact they are taking part in the competition must mean they are content with how it has been governed.
It may well be that internal affairs in their own countries have led to the outburst of violence, or that they just enjoy the hooligan lifestyle- maybe they have all watched Green Street one too many times.
Too many England fans felt like they were as hard as Vinnie Jones and Danny Dyer when squaring up to the Russians, but they were in fact just adding to the mixing pot of sour tasting stew these hooligans had already conjured up.
Are the French and UEFA right to have part of the blame thrown towards them? Of course they are. The segregation at all stadiums is not policed enough, meaning a repeat of the events at Marseille could well happen again.
Marseille is where it all began, where English and Russian fans collided for three solid days.
Following the two nations’ 1-1 draw at the Stade Velodrome 10 days ago, Russian “supporters” lit flares, a passive way of signalling their troops to get ready to charge. The referee’s whistle was like a starting gun used at an 100m final, as at the very moment the whistle touched his lips, the Russians sprinted towards the England fans.
Many of the Three Lions supporters, especially the ones with children, jumped over barriers at least 10ft high to avoid the inevitable violence that was about to erupt.
Russia were given a pre-determined disqualification by UEFA, should their fans cause any more trouble inside the grounds, the only place that Europe’s football governing body could control.
Outside the grounds, it was the French police who had to deal with the violence out in the streets. Water cannons and tear gas have been used frequently in an attempt to stop the fighting, with mixed results.
Russian fans again were the centre of attention in Lille when they came up against the England and Welsh fans last Wednesday, before more than 10 Russians were kicked out the country by the time they faced Wales in their must-win clash last night. They lost 3-0.
During Croatia’s match with the Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne, Croatian fans threw flares and firecrackers onto the pitch, with one set of firecrackers exploding right next to a steward. Within the Croatian stand, fighting broke out between themselves.
The Croatian national team manager described them as “hooligans, not fans, hooligans who don’t deserve a place in any society.”
The incidents seemed to unsettle the Croatian players on the field, as they let their 2-1 lead slip to the Czech Republic as the game ended 2-2.
Four Poland fans were today arrested ahead of their match with Ukraine, who themselves have caused trouble over the last ten or so days.
With Marseille once again the battleground, police used pepper spray and batons to try and end the fighting, to no avail.
With Russia and Ukraine exiting the competition, one would think the violence should calm down.
But things aren’t that simple. With the recent scenes of violence that have occurred in France, it makes one wonder with trepidation that in two years time, the World will be travelling to Russia for the FIFA World Cup.
With fierce cities like Kazan, Sochi and St.Petersburg hosting matches throughout the tournament, is it right for them to host such a mega event that tries to make the world feel together and safe. In doing so that includes equality for all genders, race and sexuality.
UEFA and FIFA will need to re-examine the videos of the Russian mob, and make a decision quick, with threats of boycotting the World Cup already being voiced over by African countries and players.