Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

UEFA Buried Heads in Sand over Fans' Threat; Coverage in Association with Tournament Chiefs Were Warned about Potential Trouble and Their Failure to Act Reveals a Damning Lack of Security Planning

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

UEFA Buried Heads in Sand over Fans' Threat; Coverage in Association with Tournament Chiefs Were Warned about Potential Trouble and Their Failure to Act Reveals a Damning Lack of Security Planning

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley Chief Football Correspondent comment

TChampionships that UEFA want to broadcast to the world and the one taking place here in France couldn't be greater. This is a tournament so far utterly overshadowed by the violent, terrifying street clashes between fans from a variety of countries; a hostility fuelled further by a sprinkling of French ultras only too happy to provoke further trouble.

UEFA revealed yesterday afternoon that they are exploring rule changes for subsequent Euros which allow them to change the location and timing of matches once the groups have been drawn. It is naive in the extreme that this situation does not exist already.

The organisation's threat to ban England and/or Russia for any future violence is one the FA are right to take seriously but it must be accompanied by a much greater understanding of the nuances involved, not just the imminent imposition of an alcohol ban proposed by the French government.

The failings that have contributed to the ugly scenes in Marseille's Vieux Port, the Stade Velodrome and elsewhere are systemic. Fundamental questions were not asked. How was the England v Russia game allowed to kick off at 9pm in a city rife with trouble courtesy of what the locals call the 'Marseille mafia'? How were England fans allowed to buy crates of bottled lager from nearby supermarkets and drink in the street, thereby arming them with glass missiles? How was the practically non-existent segregation allowed in the stand which enabled Russia fans to storm a thin line of stewards to attack England supporters at full-time on Saturday? How did Russia supporters, whose country, remember, will host the next World Cup, smuggle fireworks and a green flare into the stadium, the latter fired in all probability as a signal to attack given it occurred moments before the collective assault? The fact these questions were not adequately addressed reveals a damning lack of security planning from football authorities who were warned about the potential trouble surrounding certain fixtures, none more so than England v Russia. Perhaps UEFA dismissed it as scaremongering. After all, their interpretation of football is imposed upon supporters and visitors to any given country. …

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