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Football and Violence – Football Or Fireball?
The recently concluded Euro 2008 was widely covered in the international media, but there was another story that attracted less coverage and readership. Spain’s Euro 2008 soccer victory celebration 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 suffered a head wound.
After the national team had broken a 44-year spell, the Spaniards took to the streets in wild celebrations that lasted until the next day. Wrapped in Spanish flags, fans set off fireworks and car horns.
Police tried to stop fans from jumping into the Cibeles Fountain, the traditional way to celebrate a football victory, and used baton charges to break up isolated riots in the capital. More than 50 supporters were arrested for acts of vandalism and public disorder. Fortunately there was only one reported death.
The game of football has been 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 riots or fights between fans.
Football and violence have gone hand in hand for many years. In 1314, King Edward II of Great Britain banned football to prevent football-related violence. Most soccer-playing nations have witnessed soccer-related deaths from time to time.
In 1968, more than 70 people died when crowds watching a soccer match in Argentina were stampeded after several youths threw lit cards at each other. In 1971, a brawl broke out at a match in Brazil, killing four and injuring 1,500.
In 1964, in another soccer accident, more than 300 soccer fans died and another 500 were injured in Peru in a riot during an Olympic qualifying match between Argentina and Peru.
In June 2006, Germany defeated Poland in a World Cup final match, a result that meant Germany qualified for the second round of the finals. The match was accompanied by violent clashes between German and Polish fans. Police arrested over 300 people in Dortmund after the clashes. German fans threw chairs, bottles and fireworks at the police. Different groups of German and Polish fans clashed with each other in separate brawls. 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 UEFA Cup semi-final match with Leeds United AFC in 2000, many fans were stabbed to death following street brawls 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, on average, each mayor consumed or threw away 17 liters of beer.
In a more serious situation, police had to protect Libyan fans in Egypt from rockets being thrown at them by Egyptian fans on the floor above them during a match between Egypt and Morocco.
In another soccer accident, 125 people died and hundreds were injured when soccer fans collided at a game in Ghana in 2001. In Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 14, 1991, forty people died when fans jumped toward an exit. trapped to escape rival fans brawling at a match in south-west Johannesburg.
On 15 April 1989 in England, ninety-five people died and at least 200 were injured in Britain’s worst sporting disaster after a large crowd pushed packed fans against barriers at the English FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium.
In thousands of other cases, hundreds of fans were stabbed in various locations around the world. Many matches were canceled and many clubs paid huge fines. Public property was destroyed in countless incidents. All these incidents leave the game with a tarnished image. Now most of the soccer playing nations are taking extra security measures for various tournaments. Along with the governments, a lot also depends on the fans. Only they can help curb such violence. A broader and more liberal perspective is needed among fans to make sports a sports issue!
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#Football #Violence #Football #Fireball