News   |    November 25th, 2021

A CHALLENGE FOR FOOTBALL

Traditionally, football in this country has a worldwide reputation for passionate and committed fans. Bitter rivalries are often apparent in any sporting environment, yet footballing rivalries are arguably the fiercest amongst fans and players. For those of us who like seeing fair play and a game played in a competitive and ethical spirit, causing harm to aplayer is wholly unacceptable whether it is a home or an away player.

Unfortunately, Dimitri Payet was the subject of an attack last weekend when he was hit on the head by a bottle thrown from the crowd as he was about to take a corner kick. This incident in turn led to the match between Lyon and Marseille being abandoned after a 2-hour delay whilst the authorities decided what to do. This is the second time the Marseille captain has been hit by objects thrown at games this season and Ligue 1has itself been badly affected by crowd violence and pitch invasions this season.

First and foremost, the safety of both players and fans is imperative. I have played in games of a violent nature, and I have also been a spectator where crowd trouble has been evident. I can wholeheartedly say it is not a pleasant experience. Being close to trouble is scary and unnerving particularly for children.

Of course, security is the responsibility of the home club butas individuals we must ultimately ensure we keep each other safe and do our utmost to prevent violence at games. Ligue 1has already announced that Lyon will play their next home game behind closed doors pending an investigation. Sadly, this means the small minority that caused the incident have prevented the rest of the non-violent majority from cheering their favourite team on in the next game. 

I have to say that it is not just in France where violence in football occurs, it is a worldwide issue. Football should be a sport of inclusion, equality and yes competitive rivalry, but played in a sporting and ethical manner. Spectators must embrace this culture, and through causing problems like this incident at the weekend they could be a victim of their own doing where being able to watch their team compete is no longer an option. Violence and discrimination are not welcome in football, so let’s continue to publicly challenge this type of behaviour and keep the game we all love safe from those who seek to destroy it.

Photo – AFP

Alfie Bobbins - Integral Sports Management

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