Saturday, July 13, 2024

Vibrant fan culture at Euro 2024 comes at security cost


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Frankfurt, June 28: The flip side of the European Championship having a vibrant fan culture is the added security risk inside stadiums.
A tournament staged in Germany that is affordable and accessible in the centre of Europe has revealed some of those challenges.
Too many fans have got on the field and close to players, most often seeking a selfie with Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portugal superstar also was nearly hit on Wednesday while entering the players’ tunnel by a leaping fan landing next to him.
A brawl in a stadium was fought by fans of Georgia and Turkey ahead of their opening game on June 18 in Dortmund.This tournament has been almost free of hooliganism that once dogged the Euros, often involving England fans. But a brief incident in Gelsenkirchen ahead of England’s opening game there was mostly blamed on Serbia fans.
At the most beer-friendly of recent soccer tournaments, plastic cups have rained down on the playing area and television commentators have broadcast about getting in-game beer showers.
England coach Gareth Southgate was the target of the most hostile cup-throwers, in the cheapest seats behind one goal, after a drab 0-0 draw with Slovenia. The families of England players sitting in a more expensive section of the Cologne stadium also were aimed at.
“My brother was hit, a few others,” England defender Ezri Konsa said. He added the cups were “coming from all angles. There’s kids in the stands with family so we always have to check on them, reassure them and ask if they’re all right.” All of the above incidents are offences under the disciplinary code of UEFA, resulting in fines of a few thousand euros (dollars).
Those are paid by national soccer federations, which each receives at least 9.2 million euros (USD 9.9 million) in prize money from UEFA and are liable for fan behaviour at stadiums.
UEFA imposed fines for “throwing of objects” on the federations of Scotland, Albania and Serbia in the first week of the month-long tournament. (AP)


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