Have your say
Euro aways: Part 2
I am extremely concerned with some of the recent postings concerned with
Euro aways, the trouble in Belgium and banning of teams, countries and fans. (See
postings for 17th - 23rd June 2000.)
Whilst I sympathise with much of what has been said, such as UEFA's
inadequacies, it is not a sensible policy to call
for, support or celebrate any team or groups of fans being banned from
Europe. Supporting a ban on England would be a very slippery slope indeed
and would not do anybody - including United fans - any good. If people feel
like writing to UEFA, they of course can do that, but it won't
do any good to make a nuisance of ourselves in this way, at this
stage. And anyway, the chances of a ban for anyone (England or our clubs)
is not on the agenda now so it'll seem irrelevant.
I personally believe that such a ban would have been wholly unjustified and
wrong and that the problems in Belgium, and the reactions of media, police,
government, FA and some fans representatives has set back our efforts to
get better treatment abroad by a long, long way. A few points to bear in
The vast majority of England fans are ordinary football supporters and
should not be punished for the actions of a TINY minority. If you think
they deserve it, then so will we when some of the nobs who seem to follow
US abroad these days land US in it.
Banning teams punishes the wrong people (including four of our own
players for pity's sake) and we cannot EVER be seen to support such a
tactic as it will backfire on us sooner rather than later.
There is a mood in the media and Govt to introduce measures so that those
who the police may possibly suspect of perhaps, at some point, somewhere,
being invovled in a 'football-related offence' being stopped from
travelling and this is fuelled by the widespread support for an England
ban. Such a move using police files would put in jeopardy the travel
of a number of ordinary fans
because of police incompetence and innacurate information. It also, of
course, raises very basic issues of civil liberties (the presumption of
innocence until proven guilty by an independent judiciary) about which we
should all be concerned. For instance, if they had that legislation in
place in 93, the 240 Reds deported from Turkey, would be banned for life
both abroad and at all grounds here (check the Football Offences Act and
Public Order Acts)
It is not just United fans who have suffered in Europe - almost every
club that has travelled, as well as England fans (Rotterdam 93; Rome 97
etc), have been grossly mistreated because they are English. Whilst we -
and other clubs - do not have the hoolie element that England do, the tear
gassing, batoning and deportations of *innocent* English fans whoever they
are supporting is wrong and we should oppose it every time it happens. Only
this way will the problem be taken seriously. If we say 'oh that's just
England' we'll deserve all we get.
Foreign police forces are hardly going to incorporate subtle differences
in English football fandom (such as United not being the same as England)
as they tool up. We're English and they see that as problem. It's a problem
of how English fans are treated abroad and needs to be tackled as such.
To solve the problem, we do need to reiterate the concerns and problems
we've had for years on ticketing, safety, policing and travel. However, we
also now more than ever, need to cooperate with national supporters groups
(particularly the FSA who have more experience than anyone of dealing with
the England issue) to get the Govt (foreign office, home office, dcms), FA
and police to start taking our concerns seriously and to start making
representations on our behalf. Otherwise the agenda will now be solely
about stopping fans from travelling and that will mean us next year (anyone
see Dion Dublin saying that if you haven't got a ticket you must be there
for a fight - applies to plenty of us...).
We cannot go on a United-alone route on this one. We'll get nowhere towards getting
better treatment and it could end in none of us going anywhere either.
The views expressed on this page are the views of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IMUSA.