sport news Just like being back in the 80s! Ultra culture and drugs have fuelled violence ... trends now

sport news Just like being back in the 80s! Ultra culture and drugs have fuelled violence ... trends now
sport news Just like being back in the 80s! Ultra culture and drugs have fuelled violence ... trends now

sport news Just like being back in the 80s! Ultra culture and drugs have fuelled violence ... trends now

Another week of violence and chaos in Europe. Another week of fans going to watch their team play football and returning with stories of abuse and carnage. Another week where the football itself is no longer the story.

From Newcastle fans getting attacked in Paris, to Brighton fans getting tear-gassed in Athens, to four police officers getting injured outside Villa Park as they were attacked by Legia Warsaw supporters, Europe has a problem.

West Midlands Police made 46 arrests on Thursday night after some of the worst violence Birmingham has seen in decades as ticketless Legia fans ran riot outside the Doug Ellis Stand.

The rise in disorder this year is alarming and is spiralling out of control as UEFA repeatedly fail to act. Wherever English clubs are in European football, trouble follows them. Maybe it comes with the reputation from yesteryear and the origin of football hooliganism.

There is still a problem in this country with disorder at football games but the events of this year and Thursday night outside Villa Park emphasise how this has shifted to a continental problem.

Ticketless Legia Warsaw fans caused havoc at their side's clash with Aston Villa on Thursday

A number of police officers were injured due to violence outside Villa Park ahead of the clash

A number of police officers were injured due to violence outside Villa Park ahead of the clash

UEFA - lead by Aleksander Ceferin (pictured) - have repeatedly failed to act in the face of rising in disorder this year

UEFA - lead by Aleksander Ceferin (pictured) - have repeatedly failed to act in the face of rising in disorder this year

It is not so much English fans misbehaving when abroad. But gangs of attention-seeking ‘ultras’ who align themselves with European clubs are now the frightening norm, making life incredibly uncomfortable for real fans.

From innocent fans getting attacked by hooligans to violent clashes with police, the rise in trouble and disorder across football in Europe has reached a worrying level.

Brighton fans were seen covering their mouths and noses after they were exposed to the gas

Brighton fans were seen covering their mouths and noses after they were exposed to the gas

‘English fans have been attacked pretty much wherever they’ve gone in Europe,’ says Geoff Pearson, a leading expert in football hooliganism.

‘With more fan groups across Europe, the probability of trouble rises and with the way policing differs across countries, there’s a divide when it comes to the question of legitimacy.

‘Football games are transgressive, boundaryless experiences for some fans and they push the limits on what they can do. And for football policing, that offers a serious challenge. At what point do you draw a line — it’s impossible to judge fans on the standards of everyday life,’ adds Pearson.

Some say that disorder is growing due to drug misuse, while others believe that with the power of mobile phones and the rise of social media, there is no hiding it any more. It has always been there. But that is not true of Thursday night at Villa where police said the violence was unprecedented.

Even when Legia fans were banned from entering the ground after riot police on horses had been deployed and four officers were injured, footage shot by fans showed them launching missiles from outside the ground. Fans in the Holte End had all sorts, from ketchup bottles and vinegar kettles, launched at them. One Villa fan told Mail Sport that ‘it was like being back in the Seventies and Eighties’.

On the night, a Villa source told Mail Sport that it was the biggest police operation he’d seen in over 20 years at Villa Park and he had never seen such violence unfold. ‘The disorder we encountered was the most severe that a lot of us have ever seen,’ Damian Barratt, assistant chief constable of West Midlands Police, told talkSport.

RC Lens supporters at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday threw flares onto the pitch

RC Lens supporters at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday threw flares onto the pitch 

There were no away fans inside Villa Park when the Conference League game got underway

There were no away fans inside Villa Park when the Conference League game got underway

Villa accused Legia of ‘planned and systematic’ violence. They have history. They caused problems when they played Leicester in 2021 when 14 officers were attacked and three fans were sentenced.

‘There was almost certainly a rise of disorder post-lockdown,’ adds Pearson. ‘Part of that is to do with fans wanting to let themselves go and therefore engaging in behaviour that borders on criminality but also in terms of losing senior police personnel. We’ve seen an increase in low-level disorder across Europe and that’s not just at football. Events like concerts and festivals

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