For a sport that is known as the beautiful game, football can spark intense ugliness in the form of fan clashes. In latest reports of violence at the ongoing Euro 2016 championship, at least 36 people have been arrested in Lille following clashes between French police and football fans. The French police added that 16 people had been taken to hospital so far, in an indication that the dangerous start to Euro 2016, thanks to violent fans shows no signs of abating.
Some great football is being played in the shadow of horrendous fan behaviour. In Marseille, England and Russia fans clashed during a game on June 11. The Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) had even threatened to disqualify England from Euro 2016 if there was more violence. Even as the tourney goes on, police and other fans are bracing for more violence. All measures have proved futile till now, and we can expect more strife as the teams whittle down and the competition takes a keener edge.
It is time football purges itself of its biggest scourge — fan violence. We have seen so much violence and racism from fans in the past and, instead of abating, we only see an uptick in this menace.
There is also a tendency to see fan violence as part of the package in international football. Lager louts seem to be part of the football fan culture and blood in the fan stand is now a given. This is a dangerous attitude and must be done away with. Violence either among fans or on the pitch has no place in sport.
Police and other security arms are already worn thin during the ongoing Euro. Fan violence is not a show of nationalism or support. In fact, it is perhaps the biggest disservice to the very sport the fan seems to be so passionate about, as it takes away from the pleasure of watching the game. It is a sign of disrespect to the players and their talent. It is time to watch football revelling in the sublime skills of these men and the remarkable feats they achieve on the field.
A violent fan is an oxymoron and, in fact, no fan at all.