Football Hooligans: The people who turned a game into a war
Posted by Paul David Sanderson | Published on June 12, 2016
Marseille has been a warzone over the weekend after French police clashed with Russian and English football hooligans, leaving 35 injured and one supporter fighting for his life.
The sheer scale of violence even before the first kick, has overshadowed the start of Euro 2016. Images and reports coming from fans in the city have been bloody ones. One image included an England fan lying on the ground and a French officer trying to revive him after being repeatedly kicked in the head. Six other fans were also described as ‘seriously injured’ in the initial clashes.
Other England fans reported that they had been hunted down by Russian fans.
“It was the Russians that sparked it all off,” an England supporter claimed, “A whole gang of the [Russians] came right into the middle of everything and started throwing punches.”
Rebekah Vardy, wife of England forward Jamie Vardy, was also caught in the conflict and aimed her anger at the poor policing. She tweeted:
“That has to be up there with the worst experience EVER at an away game! Teargassed for no reason, caged and treated like animals! Shocking!”
The poor policing was a recurring theme on social media of as England fans were hit with tear gas by the French police. Even Talksport host and former England player Stan Collymore was hit with tear gas and claimed that the England fans are not the ones to blame.
After being hit with tear gas, the police used a water cannon on England and Russian fans. Most of the fans left the area but the battles still continued on the way to the Stade Valedrome.
Following the violence before the game between England and Russia, UEFA confirmed that it would be opening disciplinary proceedings. Bars in Marseille were to be closed shortly after the match and masses of police were stationed outside of the stadium. However, it was inside the stadium that Russian fans, armed with knives and other objects, attacked a set of fans.
Although the violence seemed to have stopped, it restarted with full vengeance when a green flare was set off in the Russian end which was a signal for the Russian ultras to attack once again. Hundreds of innocent England fans fled for their safety while a small minority fought back. Many fans who were in the area that was bombarded by Russian supporters were women and children who were just there to watch their national team play, but instead were caught up in this violence.
Whilst this unfolded, England stopper Joe Hart was seen on TV calling to the England fans to ‘stay safe’. After the game England manager Roy Hodgson and the FA condemned the actions. As for the Russian ministry of sport Vitaly Mutko, he claimed that there were no clashes between Russian and England fans and that the situation was ‘exaggerated’ despite being at the match and seeing the violence unfold.
Following all of the violent acts this weekend, UEFA have said that they will open disciplinary proceedings for both sets of fans, However, due to scenes inside of the stadium by Russian fans, it is thought that Russia will face a harsher punishment. This will also take into account the incident in 2012 when stadium security staff were attacked in Poland.
Once again the beautiful game has been tarnished by hooliganism. There is no doubt that the Euro’s will be looked back on for the violence that has unfolder rather than the football played, and this is the problem that we thought had been scrapped back in the 1980’s. But the truth is that it has come back stronger and has ruined the competition and the lives of the majority of fans who have turned up to the competition to see their beloved team play football.