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Is Fan Segregation At Football Matches A Good Thing?

german fans euro 2008 Is Fan Segregation At Football Matches A Good Thing?

One of the pleasures of going to see a live match in England and continental Europe these days is the lack of fan segregation.

After leaving Wales in 1984 and returning to England in 2006 to attend a professional match again, I was shocked by how fans were allowed to mingle together in the streets outside the grounds. Inside the Premier League stadiums, the away fans were put in their corner surrounded by stewards. But before and after the games, the fans from both teams could be seen standing and walking next to each other with no aggro or insults traded.

Such is the difference between English football in 1984 and 2006. Not having been to a top tier professional match in England for so long I was stunned by how much things had changed.

I experienced the same thing at the Holland against Italy match at Euro 2008. While I didn’t expect the supporters to be herded into the different stands as was common in the late 70s and early 80s, I was surprised by how there was little to no segregation in the Wankdorf Stadium in Berne. Sure, there was the Italian end and the Dutch end both at opposite sides of the ground where the official supporters club stood. But throughout the remainder of the stadium Dutch fans sat next to Italian fans and neutrals.

This is definitely the modern day football experience where hooliganism is becoming extremely rare except for small clashes. Fans of all ages and races sitting together in stands without trying to attack each other.

All of this happens though with Big Brother playing a large part behind the scenes. In the build up to the Holland against Italy match, there were several helicopters circling around the ground conceivably looking for trouble or possible terrorism. There are also lots of security cameras in key locations watching for trouble. And there’s still quite a big police presence lurking from a distance and waiting to pounce if any trouble kicks off.

Watching the Turkey against Croatia match, it was hard not to notice the large presence of stewards behind each goal. Their presence seemed excessive especially the three rows of stewards standing in front of the Croatia end. There was a noticeably smaller presence in front of the Turkey end. Before and after the match there were some isolated clashes between fans, but looking at the large numbers of Turkish and Croats throughout the other parts of the stadium, everything seemed to be pretty calm, thankfully.

While it’s refreshing to see fans from both sides — whether it’s in the Premier League or Euro 2008 — attend a football match without the worry of violence happening, there is a little part of me that misses the tension and the abusive chants between opposing sets of fans. Now the atmosphere feels more like a company picnic party. Everyone’s there to have a good time but it’s all so sedate.

Please share your thoughts by clicking the comments link below.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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8 Responses to Is Fan Segregation At Football Matches A Good Thing?

  1. Hudsonland says:

    The element of danger was definitely a large part of the thrill of pre-corporatised football. There was nothing like threatening chants with a genuinely violent subtext to get the adrenaline going. I wish I was being ironic.

  2. TT says:

    Agree with H. Still use some of those threatening chants on my mates.

  3. tyduffy says:

    I actually think that it would be a good idea. That may be why American events normally don’t get as crazy. It might defuse that mentality.

  4. anon says:

    The “lager louts” have been priced out of football grounds at both international and English Premier League because of outrageous ticket prices.

    Tickets are still relatively cheap for the Bundesliga in Germany, but only for clubs that are out of contention. The big city clubs, particularly Bayern Munich, have jacked up ticket prices.

    For hooligan behavior week in and week out, you will have go to the developing world. Argentina in particular is the biggest hooligan trouble spot in the football world.

  5. England Fan says:

    The once potential tinderbox of England fans in a German city watching a game side by side with Spanish fans on a big screen (I cannot remember the match details) at World Cup 2006 – not a jot of trouble.

  6. Pingback: Euro Dose, June 21, ‘08 - Euro 2008

  7. Angelo says:

    F***. DONT TELL ME FUTEBOL MATCHES ARE GONNA BE AS FAN-FRIENDLY & FU***** QUIT AS AMERICAN SPORTS DO.

    FUTEBOL NEEDS FAN CLASHES, INSULTS, FLARES, SMOKE, ETC. THIS IS PART OF OUR CULTURE. THE LAST THING WE NEED IS FANS MISTAKING A PICKNIC WITH THE FAMILY AT A FUTEBOL GAME.

  8. jim says:

    Yep hate Villa

    Blues

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