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Football and Violence – Football Or Fireball?
The recently concluded Euro 2008 received a lot of attention in the international media, but there was other news that attracted less attention and readers. Spain’s Euro 2008 football victory party turned sour when one fan died and nearly 100 were injured during wild celebrations in Madrid.
The victim, a 40-year-old man, was found lying in a pool of blood by street cleaners in the center of the capital. Initial media reports suggested he was likely to suffer a head injury.
After the national team broke a period of 44 years, Spaniards took to the streets in wild celebrations that lasted well into the following day. Fans wrapped in Spanish flags set off fireworks and honked car horns.
Police tried to prevent fans from jumping into the fountain of Cibeles, the traditional way to celebrate a football victory and carried out baton charges to quell isolated riots in the capital. More than 50 fans were arrested for vandalism and public disorder. Fortunately, only one death was reported.
The game of football is closely linked to hundreds of deaths. Many times it was the result of hooliganism or football riots and many times it was the result of accidents or stampedes or fights among the fans.
Football and violence have gone hand in hand for many years. In 1314 King Edward II of the UK banned football to prevent football related violence. Most of the football playing countries have witnessed football related deaths from time to time.
In 1968, over 70 people died when crowds attended a soccer match in Argentina, stampeded after some youths threw burning papers at each other. In 1971, fighting broke out at a match in Brazil, killing four and injuring 1,500.
In 1964, in another football accident more than 300 football fans died and another 500 were injured in Peru in a riot during an Olympic qualifier between Argentina and Peru.
In June 2006, Germany beat Poland in a world cup finals match, a result which saw Germany qualify for the second round of the finals. The match was marred by violent clashes between German and Polish fans. Police detained over 300 people in Dortmund after clashes. German fans threw chairs, bottles and fireworks at the police. Various groups of German and Polish supporters fought each other in separate conflicts. In February 2007 in Saxony, all German lower league matches were canceled after around 800 fans attacked 300 police officers after a match.
In Turkey, before Galatasaray’s pre-final UEFA cup match with Leeds United AFC in 2000, many fans were stabbed to death following a street fight between Turkish and British hooligans.
At the 2006 FIFA world cup in Germany, there were limited incidents of violence, with over 200 preventive arrests. During that time, the Police believe that each terrorist on average drank or threw away 17 liters of beer.
In a more serious situation, the police had to protect Libyan fans in Egypt from missiles being thrown at them by Egyptian fans in the tier above them during a match between Egypt and Morocco.
In another football accident 125 people died and hundreds were injured when football fans stampeded a game in Ghana in 2001. In Johannesburg, South Africa, on 14 January 1991 forty people died when fans surged towards a jammed exit to escape the fans of a competitive brawl at a game south-west of Johannesburg.
On April 15, 1989 in England, ninety-five people are killed and at least 200 injured in Britain’s worst sporting disaster after a surging crowd pushes packed fans against barriers at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough stadium.
In thousands of other cases hundreds of fans were stabbed in various places around the world. Many games faced cancellation and many clubs paid large fines. Public property faced destruction in countless incidents. All these incidents leave the game with a tarnished image. Now most of the football playing countries are taking extra security measures for different tournaments. Along with the governments, a lot depends on the fans as well. Only they can help curb such violence. We need a wider and more liberal attitude among fans to make the sport a sport!
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#Football #Violence #Football #Fireball