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Fractious Football Joins Euro-festival

  • March 12th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

football-smoke.jpgEurope’s fractious football community has made a friendly gesture, helping to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the EU.

The dominant English club, Manchester United, decided to take part in this month’s celebrations, with a commemorative charity match on Tuesday (13.3.07) against a European Eleven.

The Eleven were scheduled to draw in celebrity players including David Beckham or the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, and would be coached by Marcello Lippi from the Italian team that won the World Cup.

“Europe” as it is now known first began its unification with the Coal and Steel Community formed under the 1957 Treaty of Rome, with six member countries: Belgium, Federal Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Statesmen of the time proclaimed they were sharing the two mainstays of the economic future, and so removing much potential for war.

Today with 27 member countries they are talking g with the same language, but about the mainstays of energy, information and communication technology, education and research.

Meantime on the football fields around the European Union, peace has been taking a back seat.

It has been a bad season for punch-ups and crowd troubles.

Some of the offerings drawn from weekend TV:

When crowds broke onto the field after a club game in Italy, one threw a flare into a police car, causing the death of a police officer; and causing the close-down of several stadiums with low security ratings – games played without spectators.

Supporters of Paris Saint-Germain continued to attract trouble, getting into street battles with fans from several other clubs, most recently their Parisian neighbours Red Star, Tel Aviv, Nice, and Utrecht from the Netherlands. Much of the trouble has racist overtones. A man was shot dead by a policeman during one of these melees.

A Lyon – St Etienne “derby” ended in a punch-up among players.

Clashes and fighting over on-field incidents led to disciplinary action after a first division club game in Spain, and between English and French teams at Lyon.

However intending supporters at the MU – European Eleven game had no cause for fear about what might happen when they turned out at Old Trafford.

Great progress has been made in England since the horror days of the seventies and eighties; police there began to control their hooligans problem after infiltrating gangs.

Continental stadium construction and security routines now lag behind. Rowdier fans are still able to smuggle banned fireworks into stands at European venues, one of the main dangers at this time to a family day out at the football.