By Tony Attwood
The headline this morning on the Liverpool.com website reads Liverpool still have three trophies to parade as serious Real Madrid question is for another day
Which may come as a little bit of a surprise. We know that for the fifth time in football history the FA Cup and League cup have been won by the same team, and that this achievement was started in 1992/3 by Arsenal. So that is two trophies which they have undoubtedly justly won. But the third? Well, they won the FA Women’s Championship – Division II to you and me.
Meanwhile, you’ll know of course that Liverpool lost last night, and that the organisation at the stadium was utterly chaotic which seems to have taken the media by surprise although it is exactly how things were at Wembley for the Euro finals.
When vast numbers of people without tickets stormed Wembley and burst through the feebly organised ticket checking system at the Euro final last summer, the people without tickets were blamed.
Last night, when it seems a fair number of people without tickets arrived at the stadium, it seems the media was surprised but this time the fans were not blamed.
As for why, the explanation is simple. The English media will never blame the FA for chaotic management because that hinders England’s chances of hosting major tournaments. But when there is chaotic management at a match in Europe, blaming the organisers is fair game. It hardly makes for balanced reporting.
There is in fact no evidence that in England we know how to organise big footballing events safely while in Europe they don’t. The evidence generally is that no one has got a clue.
Part of the problem is of course that journalists never get to experience what we, as fans, experience so often – bad organisation. And I don’t just mean at international matches – if you are a regular reader of Untold you might recall the number of times I have used this journal to complain about the appalling, illegal and downright dangerous way entry to Arsenal was arranged at the start of this last season – and how the club has abjectly failed to apologise for putting our lives in danger. Indeed I never even got a reply to my complaints.
Yet by constantly refusing to hold organisations like the FA and Uefa to account the media is allowing the FA to get away with terrible organisation and utter lack of insight and forethought, and as such the media must share some of the blame each time there is chaos at a game.
The Telegraph’s report notes that the “organisation around the arena described as “shambolic” as the chaotic situation left many supporters fearing for their safety.” I am sure that is right. Just like Wembley for the Euro final. But where is the finger-pointing at those who were responsible?
Where there is a big game on and more fans than there are places, there will always be fake tickets. That problem increases when the game is played overseas because there is a view among quite a few fans that “you can always buy tickets”. This comes about because of the generalised view that outside of the UK the black market runs the show. It’s not true of course, but the insularity encouraged by certain parts of the media suggests that once one leaves England the normal rules don’t apply.
It is interesting that the French Sports Minister, Amelie Odea-Castera, said, “Thousands of British supporters, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards. Thank you to the very many police forces mobilized this evening in this difficult context.”
I don’t know if that is true, but if it is, it is exactly what happened at Wembley for the Euro finals.
Crowd control is poor in very many places before major events, so when the Telegraph quotes, the former Liverpool chief executive, Peter Moore, as calling ‘the scenes outside the Stade de France as “disgraceful”,’ they might do well to recall the scenes outside Wembley for the Euro final.
That is the image that many people in Europe retain of English football and that is what they prepare for. That doesn’t excuse the fact that they do it badly, but that is how it goes. And the fact that the media in England has set aside the events at Wembley as if they didn’t happen, doesn’t actually change the attitude in Europe to what happened at Wembley.
But there is a PS from the Telegraph report that really does need to be taken very seriously: “During the match, journalists from the Associated Press were ordered to delete video footage of crowd issues to gain entry to the stadium.”
And for anyone really interested in getting to know what goes on in relation to football, that is probably the most horrifying report of all.
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