Football: Booze? UEFA Lack Bottle to Find Real Cause of Violence

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Byline: BRIAN READE

WHAT a hoot, no make that a crate of Hooch, is UEFA's plea to Manchester United fans to cut back on their drinking when they visit Milan next month.

"United has to tell them what is appropriate. There has been a problem with drink and it would be nice if the supporters were told not to do it," said Salvation Army War Cry salesman, sorry UEFA spokesman, William Gaillard.

So by how much should they cut back? One Peroni? A vat of valpolicella?

And how would it have halted all that violence in Rome? By making them think quicker, so they could have leapt out of the way before an Ultra on a Vespa plunged a knife into their buttocks?

Would it have let them see more clearly the bottles flying at them as they sat in their seat? Would they have been less likely to fall into a coma when their skull was cracked by a police baton?

It's a novel idea that football fans visiting Milan should spend the day sipping coffee in cafes outside Il Duomo, debating whether da Vinci had finer strokes than Caravaggio. But it's slightly flawed.

If drinking by Englishmen automatically leads to ugly violence, how do UEFA explain away all the hundreds of trips by our club's supporters in recent years where no trouble has occurred?

How do they explain the riots, knifings, coin-hurling, bloody ambushes and cop killing that have led to the cancellation of entire fixture lists thanks to those peaceful, non-drinking Italian fans this season? How do they account for Italian police turning into power-drunk Nazi thugs?

Surely UEFA should be calling on the Italian government to force their people to cut back on espressos. Because too many of those caffeine-hits are clearly lethal.

While we're at it, maybe FIFA should order those crazy Central Americans who get games abandoned through riots and shoot their own players, to cut back on their taco intake. Of course many followers of English clubs consume more ale than they should on foreign awaydays. So do most English holidaymakers. And maybe their GPs should advise them to take it easy.

But when UEFA dish out the advice you know you're staring at a huge smokescreen. …