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The English media and government are directly responsible for the violence in Marseille

By Tony Attwood

…weeping children in replica shirts stumble about with their frightened parents looking for nonexistent transport, peering down side streets, plotting escape routes from the sudden spurts and burps of violence that flared again through the night.

The Métro was running, but not the stop near the stadium, and without any guidance on where to join it. Taxi drivers had understandably vanished. No buses ran, or at least none were to be seen. Sirens blared past the gaggles of temporarily dispossessed, heading for the violence in the port area.

Several British citizens are still in hospital. Social media pictures have flashed around of one man being kicked repeatedly in the head as he lay on the floor. Police had to resuscitate an unconscious 51-year-old man who witnesses suggested had been attacked with a small axe. 

That is from the Guardian this morning, a newspaper that has suddenly, after 18 months of deliberate ignorance, has woken up.   “A group of violent Russian men came to Marseille with the idea of attacking English people. A few English people were already acting boorishly and violently. Local gangs enjoyed prodding the hive and taking a penance on their own streets.”

And one has to say, “what did you expect?”

It is all very well saying Russia fans didn’t clamber across into the England section. They just ran through an empty space. These were two solid, packed-out opposing sections. Before kick-off jaws dropped – well, this jaw anyway – at the sight of nothing but a walkway between them. Violence seemed inevitable.

If that is true, then all I can say to Barney Ronay, senior sports writer for the Guardian, what the hell have you been doing for the past 20 years?

At least Mr Ronay has the grace to admit that “the same thing happened just a few weeks ago at another Uefa match at St Jakob-Park in Basel, where Liverpool and Sevilla fans were separated only by a handful of heroic stewards in orange bibs.”

I suppose at least I must give the Guardian some credit for publishing that as its lead football story.  The Telegraph has, “The Football Association pleads with fans to behave as England and Russia are threatened with expulsion from Euro 2016” while the Independent goes with, “England fans must look at themselves after Marseille, its embarrassing”

The Mail has “Half-naked, paralytic, leering at women, taking over a town square like an occupying army – that’s why England fans repulse the world”.

What is it that people don’t understand about Uefa?  

How can the media express surprise that the ground at which England played Russia had no proper segregation?

This is Uefa, the organisation that fined Nicklas Bendtner £80,000 for showing a slogan on his pants while Porto had to pay only £16,700 for their fans’ racist abuse earlier this season.

This is Uefa which is in the process of banning Greek teams face a ban from international competition because in an attempt to control violence at football matches, Greece’s Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis having refused to rescind an earlier decision to cancel remaining Greek Cup contests because of the fear of violence.

This is Uefa that has just recently had to dismiss its President for corruption, after years of hiding behind protests of internal secrecy.

This is Uefa which in 2013 finally agreed to do something about racism after years of handing out tiny fines for racism to clubs, and then merely lifted the fines from pathetic to derisory.

This is Uefa that fined Dynamo Kyiv fined €15,000 for fans’ racist abuse of Everton players  March 2015.  That’s get tough for you.

This is Uefa that contemplated seriously taking action against Manchester City for booing the Uefa “anthem.”
This is Uefa that has moved outside of WADA by rejecting the WADA list of prohibited substances for players to take, and is going to draw up its own list.
This is Uefa who rejected the whole notion of out of tournament drug testing, and rejected the notion of clubs being held responsible for their players when it came to drugs.
This is the Uefa that the media talk up day after day (until the Guardian, far too late) finally broke ranks this morning, although without any apology for the way it talked up the events beforehand.

Uefa have threatened both England and Russia with disqualification from Euro 2016 following the violence.  And the media in the UK takes this all very seriously, as if this is reasonable stance.

This is what you get at Uefa events, because the organisers are only interested in exploitation and money making.  But the media and the FA go along with them ploughing vast amounts of money into Uefa.  If the British government stopped funding the FA then the FA would not have the money to pay Uefa for entry into the tournament.  If the newspapers and broadcasters stopped giving wall to wall coverage the importance of the event would be reduced (remembering that in the years when England have not qualified the UK media has hardly shown games at all.)

Then if another channel takes over, they can be hounded for trading on violence and corruption.

And does Uefa accept any blame?   What do you think?   Here is what they said.

“We urge both the FA and the RFU to appeal to their supporters to behave in a responsible and respectful manner.”

And the media go along with this.

After years and years of bowing down to racism, and failing to take action about everything from violence to corruption, Uefa is fortified by the fact that not at single country has protested that things have gone too far.   Everyone knows that international matches have a potential for violence and there needs to be the highest level of security inside and outside the grounds.

So what do we have?  Three days of running battles in the streets, and Uefa consistently saying that it can only act in relation to events that take place inside the stadium.

All Uefa ever has to do is say to any football organisation offering to take on a tournament – you are 100% responsible for security.  If it fails anywhere, you will be ejected from this and the next tournament.

It is so simple, why not?

We have also known for a long time that the Uefa plans of which matches are played where is ludicrous.  Playing England against Russia in Marseille?  Oh what a surprise, there is a problem.  Oh but never mind because Russia is ok.  They are the hosts of the next world cup so they must be ok.   And anyway Russia was fined  €30,000 after fans racially insulted the Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie so that will jolly well have taught them a lesson.

Oh yes and Russia was fined in 2012 for a fan carrying a national flag across the pitch.  There was mass violence in the city before that game in Poland, but they were outside the stadium, so it didn’t matter.

Vitaly Mutko, the Russia sports minister who persuaded Fifa to give Russia the world cup said of Marseille,  “There was no clash … That’s being exaggerated, in fact everything is fine here.   When the match ended, there was no barrier between the fans. The British were upset, of course, but it all quickly dissolved. Such matches should be organised properly. It is necessary to separate the fans.”   So we have total denial.

In all the reports there is something horribly pathetic about the response of the English fans mixed up in the trouble.  Here’s one report

“You could easily see who they were. They had black T-shirts with Russian writing on, and were all extremely muscular. They didn’t muck about. They picked out English blokes to attack, and then ran off when the police arrived.”

And again one has to say, “what did you expect?”  There are places in the world where it is not safe to go, so sane sensible people don’t go there.  For example, I have been to Libya, but I choose not to go there at the moment.  Ditto Egypt.   Ditto Arsenal away matches at Tottenham (although as I have said before, that is because of the way the entrance to the stadium is arranged and police, not because of Tottenham fans).

Everyone makes choices, and we live by our choices.  The FA spent public money getting the England team to this tournament.  Uefa took vast amounts of money and used it to line their own pockets.  The media said nothing about it until they more or less had to, and even now, the story is hardly even to be seen in some papers.

If the media did not endless bow down to the FA and Uefa, we could cut off the funding to Uefa and stop this violence now.  If the government stopped funding the FA, we would not be in this mess.

In the words of Untold’s Shakesperian insult of the day (which appears on the home page of Untold each morning), and directed at Uefa, and the media that supports it…

Out you mad headed aped.

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24 comments to The English media and government are directly responsible for the violence in Marseille

  • nicky

    I think it’s too easy to apportion blame for the physical violence permeating the current Euros, at the various authorities.
    In all walks of life, in all countries, there will always be a hard core of criminals whose chosen road of behaviour is based on violence. Fists preferably, although weapons would be acceptable.
    This minority causes untold unhappiness for the real supporters of our national game and I simply do not feel that it will ever be totally eradicated.
    Tighter security at football grounds, with increased camera and video surveillance, police presence and vigorous prosecutions under the law….all these will help. As will the banning of offenders from attending matches.
    The biggest problem remaining concerns matches on mainland Europe and I feel that in each country, its security forces, including the Army, could play an important role in keeping order by working closely with the police.
    A draconian step but perhaps the only way to combat the violence which, in my view, has an increasing element of nationalism about it.

  • colario

    Clubs are expected to control their fans when playing a way from home but the UEFA is exempt from controlling the fans of their national teams in thier tournaments.

    Clubs make travel arrangements fr their supporters but the FA doesn’t care a scrap about English supporters as long as they pay exorbitant prices for tickets and paraphernalia.

    All they can say is to fans ‘be good’.

  • Janman

    I totally concur with the corrupt comments about UEFA however, they are not responsible for crowd control. That is solely up to the Nation that hosts the tournament! When specific issues are identified and proven then yes, UEFA most take a far sterner approach with huge fines, points deduction and possible bans.
    As for the issues in Marseille, yes a ticking time bomb but lets’ not pretend the British fans are blameless! Of course some of the British fans are hard working honest fans who love to support England but there is a very large amount of low class lager louts who also go to get drunk and cause problems. Drinking is a social problem in general for England, just look at any town center in England on a Friday and Saturday night, some disgusting social behavior on a regular basis. Unfortunately England has a bad reputation and there are groups of traveling English fans that will constantly do their part to verify that sort of reputation. So we should not try to paper over the cracks and simply blame UEFA for the anti social behavior of certain fans.

  • Leon

    So no blame attached to the organised gangs of English & Russian thugs who went to this tournament with the sole purpose of instigating violence and disorder.
    IMO this whole debacle was pre planned and developed to the extent that it has by inadequate intelligence between so called co-operating nations intelligence services. The French police are doing the best they can without actually shooting anyone, but if some of the perps are going tooled up don’t rule more drastic action out.
    The media is reporting it truthfully & fairly and although differing in opinion is not responsible for what’s going on in France.

  • Andy Mack

    Anyone here dumb enough to think going to the WC in Russia is a good idea?
    Many countries have hooligans (I’ve seen it in France, Germany, Belgium and Holland) but many Eastern European countries do seem to be rather stuck in the 70s/80s football violence that the UK has mainly moved beyond.
    However, regrettably many of the England fans are bad tourists. They become loutish when with other brits, especially when alcohol is involved. Then the tiny number of genuine thugs we have can manipulate/goad them into hooliganism.
    Unfortunately Russians are pretty similar plus they generally have quite an aggressive attitude (as seen all over the world with the new Russian tourists). It seems that the british teenage fashion of getting drunk for the sake of getting drunk, is actually shared with many Russians but for them it doesn’t appear to be something they grow out of like most do here. Add this to the aggressive attitude and I expect major issues at the Russia WC.

  • Leon

    I look forward to and enjoy these UEFA tournaments as much as the World Cups. It’s just nonsense to suggest that the funding and promotion of events that give pleasure to millions of fans is directly responsible for the organised violent behaviour of a few hundred thugs who should have been prevented from travelling in the first place.

  • Andy Mack

    Leon, they won’t have to travel when it’s held in Russia!

  • Leon

    Andy Mac

    That means there’ll be thousands of them waiting to attack the rest of the world’s supporters.
    If this were to take place in China the tanks would be on the streets.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    I think because the England fans have a backlog of violence history behind them at football tourney, hence their indictments in France Euro 2016 despite the available facts which have revealed that they are not to be totally blamed for the skirmishes which had occurred between the locals, the Russian fans and them.

    I think the only blame that can be apportioned to the England football fans in this past football violent happenings in the Euro games in France inbetween the locals, the rival fans and them is, the England fans cannot resist taking retaliatory action after been provoked to anger.

    In this circumstances, save in self-defence, I will advice the England fans to resist the temptations of retaliation whenever they are being provoked or intimidated by any individual, a group of locals, the rival football fans and the law enforcement agents. But report any offence committed against them to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

  • Percy

    Anyone at the 1995 UEFA CWF in The Arsenal end, upper and lower stands, think that the French police did the best they could? True they didn’t shoot us but the gassing and batoning of a crowd, inexplicably locked, in was pretty drastic. However, being tooled up with match programs and red and white scarves must have made it OK.
    Sounds to me as if they have moved on not one jot and are still incapable/not interested in sorting out the real problems but are just assailing those nearest with little in the way of stategy to combat the hardened criminals.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The more I am reading, the more it looks like many, though clearly not all of the injured English fans , and those trapped in the stadium were victims of vicious, coordinated attacks.
    The reputation of English fans makes even the innocent a target.
    There are stories of fans having a drink being attacked by padded up Russian fans with various weapons, and re-enforced gloves. The guy who had to be resuscitated was rumoured to have been struck in the head by a small axe.
    What happened in the stadium,the lack of security and escape routes was a disgrace, how were Russian fans able to get flare guns in for starters…in a heightened terror threat.
    But, as we know, UEFA are sponsored by Gazprom, so if they are forced to take action against Russia, you can bet they will save face by taking drastic action against England as well, no matter where the blame lies.
    England has a guilty past in hooliganism, but the past does not always make all of the present guilty. The main protagonists look to be organised, trained, and funded Russian hooligans who appear to be taking things to a different level. The authorities need to carefully consider the next World Cup…and future clashes in this tournament.
    As for the English fans who are there only to watch football, if I were you, I would come home, but for those who remain, stay safe, things could get even worse in Lille and Lens if rumours are to be believed.

  • Percy

    When I say ‘they have moved on not one jot’, I am agreeing with the article and not jusst referring to the police. Just wish to make that clear. I mean all the authorities involved.

  • Pat

    I detect a gathering theme. Russians are thugs – take away the World Cup from them. This theme suits some very powerful people who don’t have the best interests of most of us at heart.

    Labelling a whole nation thugs because of a tiny violent minority is not a good approach. The Soviet Union and now Russia have hosted many international sporting competitions and all have gone off well. Russian people are as hospitable as any other nation.

    Participants at the Sochi games praised the provision and the atmosphere. The 1980 Moscow Olympics were a great occasion and left facilities and homes which, unlike after the London Olympics, were used by ordinary citizens and not just of benefit to the rich.

    There is a mood of xenophobia and national chauvinism going about Europe that is not helpful to anybody. It doesn’t get much coverage over here but people in Germany are very concerned at the rise of neo-nazism and similar movements are in the rise in a number of other countries.

    Most of these are in Western Europe. Yet the media chooses to depict these kinds of problems as being a special feature of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

    Does anyone detect a political agenda in this?

  • Percy

    Are you sure about Sochi? You might find participants who liked the atmosphere but I don’t think it chauvanistic to recognize the corruption and scandal surrounding those Winter Games. The doping stories surrounding Russian athletics is going to be overtaken big time when the Sochi story is told, just lok up what WADA are saying. This, not from western Europe, but the head of Russian anti-doping.

    “Allegations of Russian doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics would represent a shocking new dimension and an “unprecedented level of criminality”, if proven to be true, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.

    Russia is at the heart of the biggest doping scandal in sport, with its track and field athletes suspended as a result of a probe into accusations of widespread doping and their participation at this year’s Rio Olympics in doubt.

    Citing the former head of Russia’s anti-doping agency, the New York Times reported last week that Russian anti-doping experts and members of the intelligence services secretly broke into tamper-proof bottles to replace urine samples tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine collected earlier.”
    Reuters: May 18th

  • ob1977

    I know i am looking at this from a different angle and by no means trying to lessen what the “fans” have done, but i have been thinking how come a club or nation can be punished with expulsion for fans behaviour in the stadium, but cannot be punished in the same way for players taking banned substances and directly being involved in results on the pitch?

    Seems a little strange to me…

  • Janman

    Why am I still in moderation?

  • bushido

    this is the world we living in today, nobody want to admit their fault and put the blame on others. before the euro start we reads the media run the story about english n russian hooligans gonna join forces to attack the muslim people who lives in Marseille. how to you think the locals feel when they read that plus the England fans start to get drunk and began to sing and chanting in provocation and insulting manners. at the game between England n Russian, it makes no sense for the russian fans to attack the english fans for no reason, after all their team who score the equalizer in the final minutes. people wont just attack somebody if there is no provocation. i not accusing anybody, the stuff we read in the paper some are true n some not. bottom line is everybody involve must shoulder the blame.this is what happen when you got corrupt organization that make their own rules like UEFA n FIFA organize an event. kind of disaster

  • Pat


    My understanding is the man making all these accusations about Russian doping has decamped to the United States and is under US protection and probably in receipt of a lot of money from them as well. Is he credible?

    In all these discussions about doping everybody seems to have forgotten that some of the biggest dopers were Americans who seemed to get away with it for years. Remember Marion Jones. And Lance Armstrong.

    Sharapova was caught out by changes in the drug rules which for the first time included something she was taking in the banned list. Is it just coincidence that this substance happened to be produced in Russia? I wonder how many substances US firms are producing that are still allowed?

    There are many big question marks about drug taking in sport. This site has already discussed the poor state of drug checking in football. No doubt big drug companies are making large sums out of substances that some sports people are taking.

    Behaving as if one nation is the only transgressor – which is the trend in the British media at the moment – is not a helpful way to deal with this knotty question.

  • Percy

    Maybe the reason Rodchenkov has decamped has something to do with the fact that two of his colleagues, Kamayev, a head of Rusada, and Sinev, one time general director, both managed to kick the bucket as news of this scandal broke. Any suggestion that Sochi is some model of how a World Sports Championship should be conducted is most bizarre. The state sponsored involvement in these scandals is not conjecture; the post event testing and failed samples are not contested.
    Claiming that the British, or western for that matter, media behave as if there is only one transgressor and that everybody has forgotten the likes of Jones and Armstrong is just daft. Where do you think Paul Kimmage and David Walsh hang out?

  • omgarsenal

    There is a worldwide tendency towards violence as a sort of vicarious expression of dissatisfaction towards the 1% corrupt rich and their politico bum-boys and it is often directed at the most defenseless people like the LBGT community and the people who represent visible minorities. The epicentre of this horrible and murderous insanity seems to be the USA but also the jihadist fundamentalist pseudo-Muslims follows a path laid down by their bellicose imams.
    Russian, English or any other nationals espousing hooliganism is basically the same as the irrational anarchy described above. France has the means to control this and hopefully will do so shortly….because the success of Europe 2016 depends on it!

  • bushido

    omgarsenal at 9:46 pm – you forget to at zionist israel with full backing from USA n their allies from your list of the horrible n murderous insanity. the regime who try to occupy the country that wasn’t even theirs to begin with. the land call Palestin, where mostly ordinary people were fighting war machine on a daily basis

  • Leon

    The Russian side of events seems to have been organised at quite a high level