Monday, 13 June 2016

We want to be safe watching football

Watching the scenes in Marseille over the last few days have just been horrific. Perhaps I am being naive in thinking that I had hoped such days were long behind English football, but organised violence just has no place in football tournaments and can't be tolerated. Whether the violence stops out in France or not from now on I am sure there will be plenty of discussions about security at Premier League venues next season, especially after the fiasco of Bournemouth's abandoned match against Man Utd at the end of last season.

I only went back to watching football in 2008/9 as I did not want to be in places where there was likely to be trouble. It was only when my children had reached the age of seven and nine that year that I felt going back to watch AFCB was something I felt okay to do. The 1980s had left a pretty horrible image in my mind as far as football was concerned and it has taken me a long time to fall back in love with the game. 
Extra security measures are never a problem for those that just want to watch football.
Sadly, the English national side have a fanbase that has left behind it a historical legacy of being up for a fight and even if the majority are only interested in having a good time, we have seen that when antagonised and charged at by Russian so-called fans things soon get out of control. UEFA have done little to segregate fans it seems and the French Police have used excessive force from the videos I have seen.

Eddie Howe is certainly one person who has had a massive affect on why I now enjoy watching games again and I love seeing so many young families now fill the stands at Dean Court. It is a priority that everyone feels safe coming to games and the atmosphere that we want is friendly and passionate not hostile and vindictive.

I now see how fragile the balance is and how important it is that everyone is vigilant when they attend matches as things can quickly deteriorate. In the last seven years I have not come up against much intimidation or felt unsafe at an English ground, but I feel that there is cause to be more alert these days. The Liverpool v Valencia Europa League final and West Ham fan's attack on the Man Utd coach brings it all home to me - it's never fully gone away.   

As for the Euros though let's just hope that no teams face the indignity of being thrown out because of fan trouble rather than what happens on the pitch.

Euro 2016 - Heroic Northern Ireland battle to the end

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