Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Equal Treatment

Italian Football
The Italian football tinderbox
As some will know I have little time for soccer and I have even less for the particular case of Manchester United which for me epitomises much of that which I want rugby never to become. It is hard though not to have some sympathy for the five supporters who have been stabbed tonight in Rome.

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is an endemic problem in the Italian game, with firearms involved on occasion and even explosives; already a police officer has been killed, yet there seems to be little imminent prospect of the type of action that was taken against English clubs in the eighties which was severe, and ultimately largely effective.

The trigger of course was the Heysel disaster of 1985, in which 39 died. Yet it was not just the 39 deaths that was the justification for action for, if it was, the punishment would have been meted out, rightly or wrongly, solely to Liverpool. It was not though, and all English clubs were barred from European competition for five years, on account, it must be assumed on the prevailing anarchy across the game and the lack of effect of measures taken by domestic authorities. Even back in those days, as it happens, the ugly side of Roma football that had flared in the previous years fixture against Liverpool was ignored in the absence of a formal inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the disaster.

It is true that the Italian football authorities do seem to have been a bit harsher in their own response than the FA was twenty-odd years ago, and were quite decisive over some of the corruption allegations, however it appears that not all of their action has not been effective.

It is probably about time UEFA considered imposing the same kind international purdhur on Italian football sides. The fact that, so far, more modern stadia than the crumbling Heysel have prevented another large death toll does not mitigate the need for action, as there are counterbalancing factors, such as the appearance of firearms, that mean that we are just waiting for another tragedy.

No comments: