Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It Is Vital FA Stops Our Fans Going to Turkey; Standard Sport Comment

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It Is Vital FA Stops Our Fans Going to Turkey; Standard Sport Comment

Article excerpt


THE police are hailing their security operation around the England-Turkey game a success.

Good intelligence, they say, prevented large-scale outbreaks of violence between English and Turkish supporters.

Other than some isolated attempts to charge coaches carrying Turkish fans this is largely true. But there were still 105 arrests, mostly as a result of fighting between rival club "firms" of hardcore hooligans who used the England game to settle domestic scores. Not a single Turkish fan was arrested.

Sunderland's Seaburn Casuals and Newcastle's Gremlin firms fought each other while Leeds's notorious Service Crew marauded around the streets attempting to pick off isolated Turkish fans in revenge for the stabbing of two Leeds fans three years ago.

Then came the pitch invasions following England's two goals in which at least one Turkish player was kicked.

So this was a success? Well I'd hate to see a failure.

The potential for violence is now always overwhelming when England play Turkey thanks to the Leeds' legacy and the generally notorious nature of our supporters. Add to that already potent cocktail a series of on-field grudges from Wednesday's game, an exploding bomb outside the British Embassy in Istanbul, and the not insignificant fact that October's match was always likely to be a group decider, then the Football Association has a simple, not a difficult, decision.

Do not take any tickets for England fans for the return in Turkey. The greater good and reputation of the English game is better served by this than any complaints about freedom to travel and right to support your country's football team.

In the aftermath of Wednesday's events, the FA's David Davies indicated it was difficult to stop fans as England are "world champions" at mustering a large travelling support without match tickets.

This was a worrying statement as it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of those among the largely peaceful England support who have the propensity to cause trouble. It's all about safety in numbers.

It's too easy, and desperately naive, to dismiss England's troublemakers as a "small minority", an idea grounded in the "hooliganism is not as bad as it was" camp. …

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