UEFA have taken the easy option when faced with the serious attack on Tottenham supporters in Rome prior to the Europa League match against Lazio. They are to take no action as the events took place outside the stadium so allowing them, the football authority responsible for organising the Europa League, to wash their hands off the whole affair. A UEFA spokesman according to a report in the Daily Express said,
“Everything not within the stadium perimeter is only the responsibility of the local authorities.”
Is it any wonder that football is in such a state with stories of corruption within the game, racist and anti-Semitic chanting being seen as acceptable in certain countries and attacks on visiting supporters being allowed to take place without fear of reprimand from those in authority?
The attack on the Tottenham fans is not an isolated occurrence of violence directed against visiting football supporters in Rome. There is a list of such attacks dating back to 1984 and it can be assumed that the supporters from any English club will continue to be the focus of such an attack from the hardline “Ultra” fans who cause so much violence in Italian football. The attack on Spurs fans was not a by-chance happening, it was planned, against a soft target and late at night with the attackers arriving armed with baseball bats, knives and bars intent on causing serious injury. Ten supporters ended up being taken to hospital with two having serious injuries from stab wounds.
The President of the Italian Football Association has written to the Football Association condemning the attack, calling it a “disgraceful attack” but UEFA have found a way to avoid having to take any direct against the clubs or the Italian Football Association. Such a dereliction of duty by UEFA is totally unacceptable.
On Friday, it was announced that two men had been arrested by Italian police on suspicion of attempted murder. The news coming from Italy yesterday, according to Sky News sources quoting Lorenzo Contucci, a lawyer for one of the men, who said,
“The charges of attempted murder had been dropped and the men instead face charges of aggravated wounding with a weapon.”
Once again, football has moved on to other stories but for those caught up in the attack in Rome, it is something that they will never forget. UEFA have again shown no appetite to take action against serious issues surrounding the game and so will do nothing even though they are fully aware that similar attacks are quite likely to happen in the future in Rome. Fortunately, no-one died in the incident but as UEFA continue to act like Pontius Pilate and wash their hands off the whole affair, is that, sadly, what it is going to take for UEFA to stir themselves into accepting their responsibilities and taking action to make sure that innocent supporters are safe when they travel to watch a football match under their jurisdiction. Then, of course, two Leeds United fans died after being stabbed in Turkey in 2000 and UEFA weren’t moved to do anything then either.