Fans vs Troublemakers – Help The Game

Date: 30th April 2015

EARLIER this week, the Glasgow Cup Final was contested at Hampden between Celtic Under-17s and Rangers Under-17s, with the young Bhoys running out winners following a 2-0 win.

This match is potentially a great spectacle of the up-and-coming talent for each of these massively-supported Glasgow giants. Both Ronny Deila and Stuart McCall were in attendance earmarking some stars for the future. However a large majority of fans were forced to miss out on the tie as the game was only open to school children and their parents, with fan trouble in the past being cited as the reason for this.

The trouble which has been caused between ‘fans’ in the past has not been caused by fans. It has been caused by troublemakers. It is not fair to tar every football supporter with the same brush. If that continues to happen, where will it all end?

Of course, it is in UEFA and FIFA rules that fan trouble can cause full or partial closure of stadiums, but as these have shown on the international stage, in places like Russia, they don’t really work as a method of punishment.

More needs to be done to identify the troublemakers and punish them, and only them, rather than give everyone the same sentence.

How this could be done? I’m no security expert, but more CCTV and/or police presence at games which are known to give an environment to ‘fan trouble,’ seems to be the obvious answer to solve this problem.

Clubs and league bosses know which games might have off the field trouble, yet the only thing which has been done to counter it is partial or full closure of stadiums.

I would argue that more action is needed to punish the few, not the thousands.

Looking at Russia, Italy and occasionally Spain, players are often recipients of racial abuse from the troublemaking ‘fans’. I would argue that these aren’t real fans. Many of the people who attend the games and are found guilty of the racist remarks towards players are members of the often political, ‘Ultra’ groups. Some clubs have been heavily fined and/or incurred stadium closures, but it simply isn’t getting results.

One instance which springs to mind is in Russia with Zenit St Petersburg. The club have been punished on numerous occasions by UEFA for racial abuse from fans, yet this keeps happening.

League bosses, football bosses, security bosses, even football fans need to do more to identify the individual culprits who are tarnishing the reputation of the club for the majority of the fans.

It would be a lengthy and expensive process to get security measures up to scratch, but surely it would be worth it in the long run?

As I mentioned before, I’m not a security expert, but surely some form of CCTV could be implemented in stadiums for the cost of a few thousand pounds? This may prevent the need for stadium closures — a policy that punishes the majority of fans for the reprehensible actions of the few. It may also save clubs tens of thousands of pounds in fines from football authorities.

The troublemakers are not only punishing their club, they are also punishing the fans who attend games for the love of the club and the sport.

The people who love the game have to help the people who have been charged with protecting it. This is the best course of action for the future and everyone needs to come together and work as one to rid our game of the troublemakers.

We don’t want empty stadiums at showcase events like the Glasgow Cup Final. The stadiums should be as full as they can be to help the young players adjust to what it is like playing in front of a big crowd. These events should also be open to all fans so the fans can get more pleasure from supporting their team.

Events like the Glasgow Cup Final should be open to everyone. The fans of the competing teams should be allowed into the National Stadium for the match. It lets them form a bond with players who they can potentially still see in 10 years’ time. We want people in a decade’s time to be able to say: ‘I saw him play in the Glasgow Cup Final in 2015. Since then I knew he’d be a star.’

Fans won’t be able to say that if the stadiums are closed. Open the stadiums, increase security, help each other out and get rid of the troublemakers. That way everyone wins, including the game.

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