Here at SF it’s part of our core belief that sport is a reflection of the best part of us. As sports fans who believe this with all the fibre in our being, England vs Russia was particularly painful. English and Russian football ‘fans’ clashing before and after the Group B match was a disgrace and saddening to anyone who genuinely follows and loves the beautiful game.
With the eyes of the world on France and on the biggest stage in the history of European football, 24 nations are primed and ready to put on a showcase of everything great about football. Today all of that is overshadowed by the minority of mindless idiots who decided that the best way to enjoy the tournament and support their team, was to beat the living shit out of each other.
Intelligent and logical reasoning at it’s finest…
Whilst I could never condone any of the events that have happened in Marseille this week and in multiple cities throughout the years, I can try to understand it. Yes it is senseless, yes it is moronic, and yes without a shadow of a doubt it is totally indefensible, however whether we like it or not what we’ve seen this week are natural male primal instincts at their worst.
I was once sat in a bar having a quiet drink with a friend of mine and he turned to me and told me how he’d never been in a fight, either as kid or an adult. He went on the say how disappointed he was in this and how he always wondered what it felt like. To the point that he often had the urge to start trouble so he could get it out of his system. He never did, primarily because he (in his own words) knew he couldn’t fight, and he had a fear of the consequences.
My friend is a highly educated and intelligent professional software developer, who has a keen self awareness of his own mortality; yet the urge to fight still burns strongly. What happens when this fighting fire burns inside somebody without my friends level of intelligence and critical thinking? The short answer is Marseille, Charleroi, Heysel, countless others and this video. In the pictures above and the video below I see too many men without a decent level of education, and people who don’t often get the chance to travel outside of the UK.
Couple that with copious amounts of cheap alcohol and xenophobia and this is what you get…
As I write this there is at least 1 fan in critical condition in a French hospital as a result of the clashes. No matter how seriously and how passionately you support your country, there are no circumstances on this earth that would justify a fan travelling to a sports event and not returning home safely.
None. So here’s hoping he pulls through!
In times like this when you see the worst of people, it’s always refreshing when certain individuals step up and through it all show you the best of people. Step forward England Goalkeeper Joe Hart showing us and the world what a class act he is.
This is why education and sport participation are so important, both in adults and children. Men need an outlet to get all of these urges out of their system, whatever the sport of choice, it’s critical to have an avenue to physically express yourself and satisfy a man’s urge to compete. We also need education to teach us all that violence is rarely the first answer and we are not better or worse than anybody else simply because we support a different football team.
We achieve more by understanding people and building bridges instead of walls. Two weeks from now the UK will put that notion to the test and vote whether or not they stay in the EU. To me, the scenes from Marseille explicitly show, now is the time to be strengthening Britain’s connection to Europe and not weakening it.
Ironically, the next major tournament is in Russia in 2018; the sad reality is that I’ll probably be writing a similar piece during that tournament too. If the UK vote for a Brexit, those clashes may just be more tragic.