Hooligans are still alive and well in football

Just ask 25 year old Tottenham fan Ashley Mills who was stabbed in a bar in Rome before his side met Lazio in a Europa League tie.

A gang of masked men brandishing knives and clubs stormed into the Drunken Ship Pub and assaulted a group of Spurs fans as they were drinking before the game last Thursday.

Hooligans, in Italy? Well I never. It’s not like some Italian clubs, both Rome teams especially, have a history of violence or anything.

Thankfully Mills is said to be in a “stable” condition and is recovering in hospital following the attack but surely now enough is enough and serious steps must be taken to eradicate hooliganism completely from the game.

Following the tragic Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 where 39 Juventus fans lost their lives after a wall collapsed in a match against Liverpool English teams were banned for five years from European competition.

It prompted reforms which led to serious penalties in this country for anyone found guilty of any hooligan activity. Over time the threat died down until now where, thankfully, there is hardly any hooligan element associated with British football.

The odd incident may make the news but these occurrences are in the minority. So why is it so different in Italy and on other countries in the continent?

I struggle to understand how in this day and age we still hear reports of hooliganism, racist chanting and attacks on innocent and vulnerable fans. It’s like going back to the dark ages.

The worst we get in this country is some idiot running onto the pitch and hitting the rival team’s goalkeeper after his team score (see Kirkland, Chris).

But now is surely the time for UEFA to step up and do something about the matter. Mills was stabbed and could have died, just how more serious an attack has to happen before the authorities take action and start kicking teams out of Europe?

They may issue warnings and sanctions and the odd fine for a club whose fans have been found guilty of hooliganism but until they start booting guilty teams out of the competitions I can’t see it having an effect.

Because only then will it start affecting the fans; the ones who are actually at fault and responsible for it all. I just hope something is done soon, and no one has to lose their life over something as trivial as a football match before we start to see some changes.

Enough is enough.

Robert Lock