UEFA President Michel Platini has expressed his concern about outbreaks of hooliganism in football – and says the game will need the concerted help of higher bodies in an effort to deal with the problem.
In response to recent fan-related troubles in several European countries, Mr Platini said at a briefing at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Tuesday that he was in favour of the creation of an independent major control and surveillance organism to handle areas such as hooliganism, corruption and betting.
“We live in a violent world today, and unfortunately, this violent world is transferred to within our preferred sport,” Mr Platini said. “I don’t know why people have to take football hostage through violence – people who come to matches to destroy, rather than do other things.
Not the image of football
“It is time something was done, we cannot continue like this. I think that the [recent] decision to stop football in Italy was a very good one, because it made people aware,” he added. “The decision taken by the referee [René Temmink] to stop a match in the Netherlands [in 2004, because of spectators’ racist conduct] was a good one. [Hooliganism and other negative incidents] are not the image of football that we want to give.”
Mr Platini said the simple solution, but one which is complicated to achieve, was to ban troublemakers from the stadiums or from travelling to games. “However, given the freedom of movement on a territory, it is very difficult to stop people going into stadiums,” he reflected.
Another solution, he said, would be to create an independent control body which was above sport, and which had the approval of sports federations such as UEFA, world football’s governing body FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This body would deal not only with hooliganism, but also other negative elements that affect football.
“We have policing organisms for the internet and music, for example, but not for sport, which carries great importance in the world,” the UEFA President said. Mr Platini added that he would be sounding out the opinions of interested stakeholders to move the idea forward in the coming period.
Mr Platini was a player with Juventus when crowd disturbances led to the deaths of dozens of fans at the 1985 European Champion Clubs’ Cup final against Liverpool FC at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels. “Following this and other catastrophes at the time, the stadiums were rebuilt and renovated, and we have mainly solved the problem of violence in the stadiums,” he explained, “but violence now happens [away from] the stadiums.
“You have a group of people who want to fight another group, and they do so within the football environment. It is this that surprises me – they shouldn’t stop our children and other people who want to go and see a [football] spectacle. If they want to fight each other, then do it on another day.”