It looks like the lessons from the past have not been learnt, as there has been reports of trouble on Thursday night in Marseille.
Back in 1998, loads of fighting happened prior to the England v Tunisia game there.
Is anyone really surprised about it? Not really, but for this to happen two days prior to the game is not a good omen. There is no doubt that locals have added fuel to the fire, after all, English fans have a worldwide reputation. And with the previous history, you can certainly and sadly expect locals to have a go. There are idiots on both side of the Channel.
I personally saw the problems from very close range back in 2004 in Portugal ,when France beat England 2-1. The English fans were happy to spit at us, try to kick us after the game and we had to run to our car. They really outnumbered us on the day, so safety to our car was a priority.
Considering I saw many of them starting drinking around 10am on an extremely hot day, you can imagine their state of mind at 11pm with France having scored two goals in injury time. I think I drank three litres of water on the day, some England fans might have drank the same amount in alcohol if not more.
— ITV News (@itvnews) June 10, 2016
— ITV News (@itvnews) June 10, 2016
I note that quote from Kevin Miles, the FSF Chief Executive:
“People were drinking and having a bit of a sing-song all day, the French police were very relaxed, letting them get on with it. It was all fine until, our understanding is, a group of around 30 to 40 locals turned up, I think with the intention of provoking the England fans to see if they could get a rise out of them. In those circumstances it’s the police’s job to prevent a confrontation and they used French methods to do so, which we’re not particularly used to.
“They used tear gas, which is a little bit indiscriminate for my liking, but it did the job and the problems were over. There were a couple of arrests of English fans as they responded to that provocation. The police have confirmed that version of events. I understand one England fan has been treated in hospital for a head injury which apparently isn’t serious, and there have been two English arrests.”
You have to question if the influence of alcohol played its part, I mean drinking the whole day, why? Then you have the French police handling things the French way. There is huge cultural difference in handling supporters in France compared to England.
If you do not have intercultural skills, something you do not really expect from a mass of football fans, you run into trouble as soon as something happens.
England fans need to remember they are not in England but abroad and behaviour that would be ‘normal’ to them might not be the case for French people and police. And it is not up to the French people and police to adjust to the English fans’ behaviour and we all know they won’t.
The French authorities and police have been treating the League’s away fans badly for the whole 2015/16 seasons, with many games played without away support as they were banned by the law on a case to case basis. Criminilisation of football fans is a big problem in France at the moment.
If you add a terrible social climate with protest and demonstration against the Government going on for months because of the Loi Travail, a reform on working laws and the terrorist threat as France is still under the State of Urgency until the end of July, you have a recipe for a potential disaster.
The police in France are under so much pressure and for months now that they will not be giving any favor to foreign fans who behave badly.
We can certainly brace ourselves for more trouble over the upcoming weeks in Marseille, hopefully all my travelling English friends will be safe and stay out of the areas where England fans gather.