By Phil McNumpty
Amidst all the regular scheduled outbreaks of violence that appear to be following England and Russia wherever they go, there is another curious phenomenon. In a bar in Paris two large groups are sat enjoying a few lagers and a jovial interaction. One group is wearing one type of shirt, the other another type of shirt, and yet they are not trying to throw bottles at one another. In fact, when a few of them turn their presumably aching necks away from the large television screen showing twenty-two men playing a ball sport on the television, they share jokes. Some even buy one another drinks. This is the shocking result of outbreaks of good natured football.
No one was expecting this, security was tight ahead of these European Championships following a spate of terrorist attacks that have rocked the French capital in recent years. No one expected fans to be allowed to freely associate in peace and unity to enjoy a festival of football together. It is a shocking disrespect to the deep tradition of nonsensical, grandeur-delusioned violence that such nations as England and Russia export. Surely, it must be said, this trouble is what we are here for.
These fans are unrepentant. “I only came here to watch some football, who wants to get hurt? It should all be in good fun.” said one supporter, a Wales fan, whose shirt was red not with blood, but with a friendly patriotic fervour.
“There’s no ill feeling or desire for violence. We just want to have a few beers and watch a game.” Said Bogdan, a Poland supporter. His mouth seemed to smile, but his eyes flickered, distracted, to the television behind him. Always on the watch, always on his guard. It is to be expected when football can break out at any minute.
“Obviously we are worried,” said Georges Bonmarché, head of security operations at Euro 2016, “There was never any indication that there should be any football breaking out. We were so busy engaging ruthless, violent fans we had no idea this football was going on under our very noses!”
While the planned violence is scheduled to last at least a month, there are reports coming out of French authorities that they may have to cut it short to deal with the outbreak of football plaguing the French towns and cities. “There is certainly a case to be made,” Bonmarché continued, “for expelling the violent parties as soon as possible to make sure we can focus our efforts on this football that keeps happening. It’s a huge undertaking for security, a game of football, and we need to be sure we are focused and ready.”
England fight Wales today at 1400.