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England boss Southgate concerned by rise in fan disorder


London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate is concerned by the rise in crowd disorder after a series of violent pitch invasions marred the end of the domestic season.

There were several incidents of players and managers being attacked by fans as scenes of post-match celebration turned sour.

Southgate fears the incidents are a reflection of growing problems within society in England, but he called on football authorities to address the issue to avoid further mayhem next season.

“It is a concern. There’s clearly a responsibility within football because when it is in our environment, we have got to do all we can to try and make sure it doesn’t happen,” Southgate said on Tuesday.

“It’s a wider problem. It is behaviour and a reflection on where we are as a country at the moment. It is a difficult time for people, we are going to have more difficult times because of the economy and the realities of the situation we are in.

“But we have to look at what we’re doing in terms of parenting, everything really. What are the expectations? How do we want to be viewed as country because that’s manifesting itself in football at the moment and that’s not a good look.”

Southgate has first-hand experience of crowd problems after England’s European Championship final against Italy last year was preceded by violent scenes as ticketless fans attacked stewards and stormed the gates to gain entry to Wembley. 

“What happened here before our final, that wasn’t just football supporters. That was people unable to behave, unable to control themselves when consuming alcohol so there are many broader parts to it,” Southgate said.

“I repeat, football has got a responsibility. We have to do our bit and we have to get that right.

“We don’t want to go back to fences up and the type of environment that created.”

There are concerns about potential disorder when England travel to Munich to face Germany in the Nations League on June 7, but Southgate conceded nothing he could say would help.

“Well, I doubt they’d listen to it really because we are always giving those messages. Frankly if people are going to cause trouble, it is not going to make a jot of difference what I say about it,” he said.

Among the barrage of alarming recent incidents, a Nottingham Forest fan was jailed for headbutting Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp after last week’s Championship play-off semi-final.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was assaulted by Manchester City fans celebrating their Premier League title triumph on Sunday.

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira will not face any police action after he appeared to kick out at an Everton fan who taunted him during a pitch invasion at Goodison Park last week.

Dorset Police reprimanded three of its officers for taking part in a pitch invasion at Bournemouth to celebrate the team’s promotion while off duty.

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