Don't be that idiot! FA campaign asks fans to behave in Portugal

Gareth Southgate has given his voice to an FA campaign urging travelling England fans to leave boorish behaviour behind.

England supporters at Russia 2018   -  Getty Images

England defender Harry Maguire wants supporters to show the country in a good light as the Football Association (FA) launches a campaign targeting "stag-do culture" among fans ahead of next week's Nations League Finals in Portugal.

Gareth Southgate's team face Netherlands in Guimaraes next Thursday, with the possibility of a final against either Switzerland or hosts Portugal in Porto three days later, as the Three Lions continue to build positively on a surprise run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

However, that progress on the field has not always been mirrored away from stadiums, with instances of anti-social behaviour from travelling supporters marring England trips to Dortmund, Amsterdam and Seville over the past couple of years.

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In a new short video entitled 'Don't Be That Idiot', the FA has re-created instances of misbehaviour from football fans – namely throwing a bicycle into a canal, standing on a car bonnet and throwing beer – in formal social settings to highlight how unacceptable such actions are.

The film closes with Southgate telling supporters: "You're part of our team, make the country proud."

Leicester City centre-back Maguire, who famously travelled to Euro 2016 as a fan before making his breakthrough at international level, sounded a similar tone.

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"You've seen over the years that England always take numbers out and the support they give the team is really special," he said. "It's a time for them to show off the pitch, and us to show on the pitch, that we're a country moving forward. 

"Go and have a good time but there needs to be boundaries and I'm sure they will stick to them.

"I can only speak about when I was there for the Euros and it was unbelievable out there. The atmosphere they created was unbelievable and hopefully they will continue that."

 

FA head of security Tony Conniford expects around 15,000 England fans to be on the ground for the game against Netherlands at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, which has a tournament capacity of 26,500.

The Three Lions will be involved in either a third-place match or final on Sunday, June 8, by which time there will be an estimated 18,000 travelling fans from England in attendance.

"I have been involved in football now for 26 years in one role or another, with the police and the FA, and we have gone from the organised violence days to, more recently, a growing number who become involved in this anti-social behaviour," Conniford said.

"A lot of it is alcohol-fuelled and there almost becomes an acceptance that because you are at the football, anything goes.

"I find that difficult to buy into and people need to have a look at themselves and start to think, 'If my relatives, wife or children were here with me, would it be an enjoyable experience?' And the answer is 'no'."

Conniford, formerly assistant director at the UK Football Policing Unit, explained that "stag-do culture" has been identified as a problem among a section of England's away support.

"I don't want to stereotype people and put everybody into a box. That is very dangerous," he said.

"But it would be stupid to say we had not recognised groups of young, adult males booking together are the ones we are more concerned about.

"It's that holiday, stag-do culture where young guys get together and suddenly anything goes."

Another persistent stain are offensive chants, referencing wars, that continue to be sung by some elements.

"For as long as I can remember, unfortunately, I think I've heard the German bomber song in every foreign country I've been to," Conniford added.

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"We've tried to educate people that those songs cause offence and unfortunately, as we all know too well in football, football chants have a habit of coming back all the time and it doesn't matter what you say or what you do.

"But if we hear people doing that and we can evidence that people have been chanting offensive stuff then, as an Association, they're gone from our membership. We won't tolerate it."

Between September 2013 and March 2019, the FA issued 127 suspensions and 237 warnings to members of the England Supporters' Travel Club, which is approximately 13,000 strong.