When hooliganism flares up!

While it is easy to blame the fans for letting their teams down, the governing bodies should be made more accountable. It is baffling that the tournament organisers are letting fans slip into the stadiums with flares and such lax security is only fuelling the fire.

Croatia's Mario Mandzukic (left) and Corluka try to pacify the team's fans as stadium personnel try to clear the flares from the pitch.   -  Getty Images

While it makes for great photography, the abandonment of the gripping 2005 Champions League quarterfinal between AC Milan and Inter Milan was a crying shame.   -  Getty Images

It all kicked off in the England-Russia game in Marseille on June 11. Russian hooligans went berserk after the final whistle, as they jumped over stand barricades and attacked British fans in what was a horrific incident. For this atrocious behaviour, UEFA dished out a suspended disqualification sentence on Russia, meaning if there was further violence from the fans the team would be eliminated from the competition.

One would assume that UEFA’s quick action would serve as a warning for the other teams. However, the reality is very different. As each day passes in the tournament, more instances of fan trouble emerge, most notably in the encounter between the Czech Republic and Croatia at Saint-Etienne on June 18. The match, which ended 2-2, was halted in the 86th minute when flares from the Croatia end rained down on the pitch, causing the players to plead with their fans for peace. UEFA has once again been proactive on this subject and has confirmed it will investigate the incident.

While Croatia is expected to get off lightly, it should be thanking its stars that nothing serious happened. There have been instances of games being abandoned due to crowd trouble, with the respective team facing disqualification.

A notorious instance of a team paying the price for crowd trouble is the 1996 cricket World Cup semifinal, between India and Sri Lanka, at Eden Gardens. India was being outsmarted by a brilliant Sri Lankan side and the crowd could not digest the development. It resorted to hooliganism, bringing the match to an abrupt halt and forcing match referee Clive Lloyd to award the match to the Lankans.

An example from the football world would be the 2005 Champions League quarterfinal between AC Milan and Inter Milan. One of the fiercest derby matches in football, the second leg was abandoned after 73 minutes after Inter fans threw flares and bottles, one striking Dida, the Milan goalkeeper. Despite the game being re-started after a 10-minute halt, the flares continued to rain down on the pitch, making it look like a war zone. German referee Markus Merk had no choice but to abandon the game and award the tie to AC Milan, which was leading 3-0.

While it is easy to blame the fans for letting their teams down, the governing bodies should be made more accountable. It is baffling that the tournament organisers are letting fans slip into the stadiums with flares and such lax security is only fuelling the fire. Unless UEFA prioritises security and safety across the stadiums, Euro 2016 runs the risk of being marred by more trouble.