A new initiative against football hooliganism is launched by the United Kingdom’s Home Office (Interior Ministry). A far-reaching report by Home Office Minister Lord Bassam recommends 26 measures to stamp out football hooliganism this year. Among these measures are the suggestion that in internal football matches (in England) tickets for visiting fans should be restricted to members of the official football supporters’ club of the visiting team, cutting out in this way “rogue” elements, whose love of football is second to becoming drunk, launching abuse and starting violence. The same measure shall be applied to matches played abroad: tickets will not be available for white, male, hooligans, “determined to display offensive and distorted perceptions of patriotism”. For most England football fans, a game of football is a sporting event to be enjoyed and the notion of violence is abhorred by 99% of fans. However, that 1% give a bad name to the team, the other fans, to English football and indeed, to England itself as a nation. For this 1%, their distorted notions of patriotism lead them to believe that hearing a foreign language spoken is a good reason for a fight, according to the report. Running fights in European cities are unfortunately a norm rather than an exception and now the very presence of an England football fan is a reason for provocation by many foreign football supporters. This vicious circle has seen events get out of hand in recent World Cup and European Cup Championships, a situation which does not happen with the other UK teams, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is intended to send stewards abroad to accompany the England supporters, partly to single out the trouble-makers, who are interested in violence and not football, and partly to protect the genuine England fans who want to support their team but who are attacked and provoked by fans of teams from opponent countries. “This should allay a common fear of many supporters that they run the risk of being arrested simply for being English in the wrong place and at the wrong time”, says the report.

John Ashtead Pravda.Ru London

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