Every summer, holiday resorts across Europe attract young Brits looking to let their hair down and enjoy the sun, beaches and in particular the night life some of the best known and most lively resorts have to offer. That inevitably leads to excess drinking for some which in turn can sadly lead to violence breaking out. Whether we like it or not an allegiance to a particular football team can be used as a reason by some to start trouble with others.
Covid-19 looked to be restricting the numbers travelling this summer but the opening of safe corridors has seen the numbers rise in recent weeks. High profile footballers have been travelling to some of the more popular resorts throughout August, when normally they would be in pre-season training. And that has put them into a scenario where they are coming into contact with groups, who in normal circumstances they would avoid in May/June when most footballers usually go on holiday.
In incidents like the one involving Harry Maguire last week we don’t know all the circumstances, so it would be unfair to judge at this stage, but players need to avoid putting themselves in situations where those seeking trouble can easily target them for abuse and provocation. Who knows also whether in the Maguire incident the story of a £63k bar bill is true, but again at a time when people are struggling to keep their jobs and in some cases not eating properly, this publicity is not good for the image of the national game.
I spent a few hours last week speaking to a group of parents struggling to make ends meet in the current health crisis and it was a humbling experience to hear of the daily challenges they face. I think the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and clubs have an educational role to play here in identifying the holiday hot spots to avoid.
The news media these days generally focus their reporting on bad news and the behaviour of a small minority can disproportionately damage the image of the game we all love. The PFA and clubs must play a key role in protecting that image.
Peter Varney – Chairman, Integral Sports Management
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Image credit – Steve Reigate Daily Express