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COMMENT: Football remains the ideological cesspool of Europe

The incessant newsfeed over Brexit fears has morphed into a shoutfest of 'in' and 'out' spokespersons simultaneously assuring the British public that Armageddon is just round the corner. But lo! The welcome break of summer sports is finally here to provide us all with the relief of mutual understanding and FairPlay on the football pitch. Fill up your cupboard with Carlings and hurry to Argos purchase a new e-barbecue, Dear Briton. Summer's here and things are looking good.

Or not.

Euro 2016: Russia faces Uefa probe after England match violence - BBC News

This linked article proves, if proof was needed, that thuggery, sectarianism and violence are alive and well in the beautiful game. While England fans revel in the cultural IQ expressed in the most recent Mars bar advert (a group of brazen England supporters land in Normandy gleefully mispronouncing "où est le stade de France, mon-see-err?"), the most bolshy among them chant anti-ISIS slogans in Marseille town squares. Presumably the predominantly North African population of Marseille had nothing to do with their choice of slogans. After all, these folks must be nuanced enough to know the distinctions between Marseillais of Berber heritage, and the Wahabi idealism of ISIS in the Levant. The ISIS chants must have been driven by an urge to analyse international politics, with no intended reference to the neighbours. 

Meanwhile, the Russians were swift to out-thug England fans with even worse brutality. Who'd have thought? This from a country which passed laws encouraging violence against homosexuality.

As the bands of masked Russian ultras pulled out their knuckle dusters and telescopic truncheons, specifically designed to maximise injuries to their enemies, the rest of the world continues to munch on Walkers crisps and enjoy the discussions over Rooney's enlightened new position in the midfield. God forbid we interrupt the game.

Perhaps the levity of football is lost on me. Call me a spoilsport but isn't it time to cancel Euro 2016 in protest at the rampant hatred and violence underpinning the sport when a father is in hospital facing likely death or lifetime disability? Shouldn't UEFA take a clear, strong stand and at the very least ban both teams from this tournament?

For once I find myself applauding the French police and their heavy-handed, block-headed tactics. Others may prefer to keep the sponsorship wheels turning but I say it's time to call it a day. 

Or has UEFA forgotten the days of John Barnes and the famous bananas?


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