Friday, April 13, 2007

A Mix of English Restraint and Greek Efficiency

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of "the end is nigh!" caterwauling from The Guardian:

Athens on alert amid fears of all-English final

Fears are growing that an all-English Champions League final, and in particular one that thrusts together Liverpool and Manchester United, would see European football's showpiece event in Athens marred by serious crowd violence, with one security source claiming the tie would represent Uefa's "nightmare scenario". [SO IT'S NOT JUST ME THAT VIEWS AN ALL-EPL FINAL AS A DREADFUL PROSPECT.]

The likelihood of two Premiership clubs playing at the Olympic Stadium next month grew with three English teams this week reaching the semi-finals, though it is the prospect of an exodus of fans from Merseyside and Manchester for the game that has prompted most consternation. [I'M STILL PERPLEXED WHY ANYONE WHO LIVES IN LIVERPOOL OR MANCHESTER WOULD EVER WANT TO LEAVE.] Uefa insisted publicly that there was "no apprehension" last night but real concerns have been raised behind the scenes with [b]the Greek authorities already preparing an unprecedented security operation[/b]. [WORDS THAT WILL SURELY COMFORT THE REST OF EUROPE - THE GREEKS ARE ON THE CASE.]

Neither club may make it through the semi-finals against Milan and Chelsea but worries have already been expressed at United and Liverpool over the logistics of supporters travelling to Athens, with [b]airports in the North-west aware that they will be unable to prevent rival fans taking the same flights to Greece.[/b] [THIS IS A HILARIOUS IMAGE TO ME. SOME POOR BUSINESSMAN FROM LEEDS IS GOING TO BE DUCKING FLYING BOTTLES AND ABORTED FETUSES ON A FLIGHT FROM MANCHESTER TO ATHENS. BRITISH AIR IS GOING TO HAVE LINES OF FLOURESCENT-JACKETED STEWARDS LINING THE AISLES OF THEIR FLIGHTS FOR A FULL WEEK.]

"Fans, many of whom will not have tickets, will be mixing on their journeys, at airports, on planes and when they arrive in Athens," said the source. "This is a nightmare scenario as far as security is concerned and a recipe for serious crowd trouble." [THIS IS WHY I LOVE EUROPEAN FOOTBALL: THERE ARE FEARS ABOUT THE FANS MIXING ANYWHERE.]

The clubs involved in the final will be allocated 17,000 tickets each, roughly the same number given to Liverpool for the final in Istanbul in 2005. On that occasion, nearer 35,000 fans from Merseyside travelled to and attended the game with United likely to generate a similar following. Uefa have a 9,000 allocation but some 7,000 tickets will be made available to the Greek authorities, fuelling concerns that many of those could flood the black market and wreck attempts at segregation. [I LIKE HOW THE ASSUMPTION IS THAT THE GREEKS WILL SELL THEIR TICKETS, BUT THE UEFA INDIVIDUALS WILL NOT. THIS IS SIMPLY A MATTER OF INTENSITY OF PREFERENCE. SOME HEINEKEN EXEC WHO GETS SPONSORS TICKETS ISN'T GOING TO VALUE HIS TICKET TO THE FINAL THE SAME WAY THAT JIMMY FIVE-BELLIES MARINER, A SCOUSER FROM HUYTON-WITH-ROBY, IS.]

The Greek prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, met cabinet ministers yesterday to discuss how to approach the gamewith the issue of sports-related violence prominent in Greece following the death of a 25-year-old fan in clashes between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos supporters outside a women's volleyball game last month. [NOW THAT'S COMMITMENT. LET THE ENGLISH RIOT OVER FOOTBALL; THE GREEKS WILL SEE YOUR FOOTBALL RIOT AND RAISE YOU A WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL RIOT. CHECK MATE, BITCHES.] A series of preliminary measures have been outlined for the final, including the deployment of riot police some 48 hours before the game on May 23, and improvements to surveillance equipment at and around the arena.

A special department has been set up to collect and exchange information on hooligans and especially those from the UK. The chief superintendent Dave Lewis of Merseyside Police confirmed they would "support the policing operation of the hosts" should Liverpool reach the final. [THE ROMAN POLICE HAVE ALSO OFFERED TO LEND A HELPING HAND.]

"If it's an all-English match, then we'll need advice from the British police," said William Gaillard, Uefa's chief spokesman. "But we're not apprehensive. We had thousands of Liverpool fans in Istanbul and it was difficult in terms of logistics, getting them to and from the airport. But we do not have such a loaded situation in Athens because facilities are easy to get to."

Concerns have also been expressed about United's semi-final second leg in Milan on May 2, coming only 28 days after their supporters clashed with Italian police and opposing supporters in Rome. "But it is a different club, a different city and different circumstances," said Gaillard. "I think people have learned the lessons." The sides met two years ago without any problems.

A delegation from United visited Milan yesterday to begin their preparations while the match commander of Greater Manchester Police, chief superintendent Janette McCormick, was also in the Italian city speaking to the police force. "We are not expecting trouble," said a spokesman for Milan police. "With the collaboration of all parties involved, everything will run smoothly."

1 comment:

Chg said...

Yet another reason Americans hesitate to embrace soccer. Ironically, I think it's more an indictment of a European culture of sporting violence than the game itself, as proven by the women's volleyball death and the horror stories of some American basketball players in Europe. If they played our football over there, you'd see people dying in the streets over missed extra points and botched fourth down calls.

However, the typical American fan does not differentiate and simply associates the violence with the continent's most famous sporting passion.

The propensity for violence among many European fans is too commonplace. I prefer my violent outbursts to occur at random times and locations throughout the nation, thank you very much.