Posted on Thursday, 21st February 2013 by Sam Antrobus
Another European away day and another story of Spurs (and to a greater extent, that of an English clubs) supporters’ blood being spilt on the streets. Sounds all rather melodramatic, doesn’t it? Perhaps if you’re a Uefa bureaucrat sitting within the confines of your minimalistic Nyon office, it might.
If you’re a football fan – or more importantly a half-decent human being living in the confines of reality – there’s nothing much to overplay about getting assaulted by a bunch of Neo-Nazi scumbags.
We will eagerly await Uefa’s reaction before casting further judgment, but for an institution who deem a £65,000 fine as an adequate sanction for racist abuse in the stands, no one should particularly be living in hope.
Perhaps the worst part about this, other than the obvious physical trauma our fans have been subjected to, is the governing body’s chillingly nonchalant attitude to the whole concept of English supporters getting attacked on their travels.
Because it’s got nothing to do about whether the Italians who attacked Spurs supporters in Rome last November or the French attackers who descended upon the travelling support last night were football fans. It doesn’t matter if these people like rugby, twister or cross-dressing. All that matters is that they’re attacking innocent people.
And this approach from Uefa of shrugging their shoulders and suggesting there’s little they can they do to prevent such incidents, is absolute garbage. It’s their competition, hence the reason our fans were out there in the first place.
Governing a competition extends further than turning up to the glitzy draws and awards ceremonies. It involves taking care of the fans that actually put the money in their pocket to help pay for the thing in the first place. In case they wasn’t aware, getting attacked on the basis of socio-religious ideals isn’t really part of a spot-on customer experience.
It’s easy to make sweeping generalizations here, but with the anti-Semitic chants and salutes prevalent in both the incidents in Rome and now Lyon, you don’t have to be Hercule Poirot to figure out what is going on. Regardless of individual religious footing, that’s twice now that Spurs fans have been attacked because of the club’s Jewish connections. And that’s two times too many.
The solution to this isn’t difficult. Uefa can’t be expected to hire out private security for every Spurs fan who travels abroad and not every singular incident involving a football supporter is going to stem from the sort of nature that we’ve just recently seen.
But clubs in this country pay a pretty penny for ensuring the adequate safety of both home and away fans travelling to and from fixtures. Even if Spurs fans aren’t given a single bit of trouble abroad for the rest of their time in the competition, it’s not a risk worth taking. Uefa need to put their hands in their pockets and shell out for adequate policing/security.
This doesn’t mean following the fans from the moment they step off the plane. But whether it’s Milan’s Duomo Square or the Plaza Mayor in Madrid that Spurs fans have made their own over the years, all travelling European fans find a place in a city to make a home from home. For the rest of this season at least, when Tottenham fans peacefully set-up camp, they cannot be left as sitting ducks.
To give you an idea of the sort of money turned over by Uefa, the governing body are expected to reap over €55million from the gross commercial revenue of the Europa League alone this season. Splashing out on an increased security presence for Spurs fans travelling in Europe will be a deckchair off the Titanic in Uefa’s coffers. But you can’t put a price on safeguarding their wellbeing from a serious/fatal attack. Or at least you shouldn’t do, anyway.