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Euro aways
Euro aways: Part 2

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Euro aways

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 mind.

  • 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.

Best, Adam


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