Report: Fenerbahce fan fatally stabbed
AP, May 13, 2013
Turkey’s state-run news agency says a Fenerbahce fan was stabbed to death by two Galatasaray supporters after a derby between the two rivals in Istanbul.
Anadolu Agency says 20-year-old Burak Yildirim was fatally stabbed while on his way back home from the game late Sunday. The report, citing CCTV footage, said two people wearing Galatasaray clothes stabbed Yildirim in the heart at a bus stop.
The report said Istanbul police have launched a man hunt for the attackers after establishing their identities.
Fenerbahce won 2-1 in the last game of the season for the two clubs.
Teacher, 28, dies after choking on hot dog at Wrigley Field
By David Brown | Big League Stew
The most effective way to make sense of the death of Maureen Oleskiewicz, without losing reason, is to know that her donated heart will beat again, inside of a young girl.
Oleskiewicz’s death at 28 years old, which happened after she choked on a hot dog before a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field and went into cardiac arrest, is just too horrible to consider otherwise.
A popular language arts teacher at a middle school in Chicago’s South Suburbs — and a big Cubs fan — Oleskiewicz instituted spirit days at school, with students dressing up in the jerseys of their favorite teams. She and her younger brother, Martin Oleskiewicz, were ready to watch the Cubs from the bleachers Sunday when something went terribly wrong during a pregame snack.
Maureen suddenly slumped over and fell between rows of bleachers. Martin thought it was a joke at first. But by the time the national anthem was played, rescuers were performing CPR on his sister. The Chicago Tribune reports:
“There were no signs she was in distress. She just went down,” said Martin, 23, shaking his head at the memory of standing by, helplessly, as a nurse in the crowd and EMTs performed chest compressions on his sister. “They were saying she didn’t have a pulse. It felt hopeless.”
He and the others providing aid didn’t know she had choked on a hot dog and was unable to breathe. She was rushed to Illinois Masonic Hospital not far from the ballpark.
But it was too late for Maureen.
Machines kept her alive until Tuesday, long enough for Oleskiewicz to donate her organs. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Oleskiewicz’s mother, Margaret, “was told her daughter’s ‘big, giving heart’ will go to a 14-year-old girl in desperate need of one.”
It might take a long time for that morsel of positive news to comfort Oleskiewicz’s family. They considered to be in good health, otherwise.
“It’s just unbelievable that she is not with us,” Margaret Oleskiewicz said.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green sent the team’s sympathies, via a statement, to the Oleskiewicz family:
“The Chicago Cubs are saddened to hear news of the untimely death of Maureen Oleskiewicz. We express our deepest sympathy to her family and friends. We will continue to keep her family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
What else can you say?
USA TODAY Sports investigation: Holes in stadium security
Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY Sports 11:32 p.m. EDT May 2, 2013
More than 150,000 spectators will pour into Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, the largest and highest-profile U.S. sporting event since last month’s bombings at the Boston Marathon.
What they’ll witness is a scene that became familiar in stadiums nationwide after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: a heightened security presence that will include electronic wand searches of patrons for suspicious objects and a fresh ban on coolers in the infield of Louisville’s storied Churchill Downs.
But who are the private security guards protecting the nation’s stadiums? Are they more often tasked with subduing an inebriated fan than defusing a terrorist plot in the making? How good are they?
It depends. Stadiums and entertainment venues across the nation routinely rely on low-paid, part-time security guards with spotty training and even criminal convictions, an investigation by USA TODAY Sports has found.
Experts call it “security theater” at stadium gates — a show of uniforms and bag searches that does little to protect fans from what we witnessed in Boston. After that attack in broad daylight, they say the entire system needs an overhaul, from security guard regulations to the public’s awareness at major events.
“Security in the United States is all about bells and whistles,” says Rafi Sela, a former official with the Israel Defense Forces. “You see the guards standing at stadiums and bus stations. It’s not even considerable deterrence anymore.”
Security company officials and experts say such guards might be the biggest gap in the security of U.S. sporting events. If intelligence fails to stop a plot before a bomber reaches the gate, the guards are often the next and possibly last line of defense against a Black Sunday scenario — an attack in a crowded stadium as depicted in the 1977 film about a bombing attempt at the Super Bowl. These are the workers hired by private firms to search bags and people, enforce rules and control entry points.
Because security guard companies offer sporadic employment that does not pay well, turnover is high: Security company officials say guards usually don’t stay on the job for more than a year or two. Twenty-three states don’t even require applicants to complete any training.
“In the event world, it is not the fire marshals and police that take care of facilities,” says Damon Zumwalt, chairman and CEO of Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC), one of the nation’s most respected event security firms, based in Northridge, Calif. “It is private security, and the private industry is woefully deficient in knowledge and procedures which could possibly prevent attacks of many kinds.”
HOLES IN THE SYSTEM
Zumwalt says tougher mandates are critical. Just like lessons learned after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the 2001 attacks, he and other U.S. officials are looking to learn from Boston. International security experts in more volatile regions of the world say the U.S. approach to thwarting attacks is part of the problem, a view that has echoed around the globe for years, especially as it pertains to U.S. airports.
Sela, who now works as an international security consultant, says, “Boston could have been avoided.”
An investigation by USA TODAY Sports also found:
Criminal backgrounds. This year, California has revoked 154 security guard licenses, often because of criminal convictions discovered after the license was issued, according to state records. Florida has revoked an average of more than 350 security licenses annually the past five years, also often for criminal records. Those numbers are only known because those states regulate the industry.
Training, licensing gaps. Seven states require no security-guard licensing at all. Among those that do, several, including Massachusetts, don’t require training. Indeed, security at the Boston Marathon’s finish line was staffed by a blend of volunteers and police. In Florida and California, 40 hours of training are required, including a course on terrorism awareness and weapons of mass destruction. In Hawaii, which previously required no training, new requirements taking effect July 1 will stipulate at least eight hours of training. The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who told USA TODAY Sports that an upgrade was needed because guards “didn’t know what their responsibilities were.”
Cost-cutting undermines safety. Most pro and major college teams hire private security firms for games, often selecting them based on cost or through a low-bid process, event security officials say. This business model can create budget pressures that lead to cutting corners on security at games.
“I get undercut (in bidding) by contractors who cut corners, absolutely,” says Cory Meredith, president of Staff Pro, an event security company based in Huntington Beach, Calif. “We know what it takes to supply a professional well-trained person, and we refuse to go below a certain level. You can only slice the bologna so thin.”
Loose definitions, loose security. Some companies have used employees classified as “event staff” in security roles at stadiums to avoid training requirements and increase profits, says Dane Dodd, CSC’s vice president of training. He says he’s seen event staff doing bag searches and controlling access to restricted areas — jobs that he said should be done by higher-paid trained guards. “This is one of the ways the industry gets around regulation, where it exists,” says Dodd, whose company has staffed more than 100 stadiums and more than 50 branch offices across the nation.
A ‘SUPER’ FAIL
With video cameras fastened to their foreheads, students Malachi Youngblood and Joseph Roberts recently filmed a documentary claiming how easy it was to sneak into the biggest, most secure game of the year — the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
The video shows the duo as they casually walked past several police officers and security guards before getting inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The video shows nobody really checking them — not even the guard who let them in the door without asking questions. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello says the matter is under investigation and declined to identify the responsible security contractor. The NFL’s main security contractor at the Super Bowl, S.A.F.E Management, also declined to comment.
“If this could happen at a Super Bowl, imagine what is going on at other venues,” Dodd says.
Last year, a KDVR reporter tested pro stadium security in Denver, where the state of Colorado requires no training to get a license. For the second year in a row, she and a colleague were able to sneak in a real pistol (but with a concealed weapons permit) and a fake gun at stadiums.
Such venues have long been thought of as prime targets in a post-9/11 world, well before the magazine Inspire, a propaganda tool for al-Qaeda, drew attention recently because it listed “crowded sports arenas” as ideal targets. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been advising stadium officials for years and has conducted assessments to detect vulnerabilities.
But the department only has an advisory role in relation to the guards hired at these venues. As a result, no national enforceable standards guide the industry, leaving a patchwork of regulations and practices that vary from state to state, team to team and contractor to contractor.
Ultimately, it comes down to trust. A stadium or team must be able to vouch for the security it hires.
“Each facility might have a different answer for this,” says David Scott, president of the Stadium Managers Association. “But as a general statement, there are long-standing relationships with the companies that provide that staffing.”
CSC says it goes beyond state requirements, including additional training and assessments as well as using people to test their security with banned or suspicious objects.
In 2005, the company was staffing a University of Oklahoma football game when a student, John Henry Hinrichs III, blew himself up with a bomb about 200 yards from the facility. Zumwalt, the company’s CEO, suspects the man probably wanted to enter the stadium with the device but was thwarted by the sight of vigorous bag searches. The FBI investigated and deemed it not to be an attempt at terrorism.
THE ISRAELI MODEL
At the Boston Marathon, security at the finish line was provided by police and volunteers donning yellow jackets, lined up next to each other on both sides of the street. Almost all appeared to have their backs to the crowd when the first bomb exploded behind them. Though it might not have prevented the attack, experts say better-trained security guards might have helped reduce the casualties.
Marathon spokesman Marc Davis says the volunteers near the finish line perform a simple security role but also are there to help runners.
That’s a key difference, says Sela, the Israeli consultant. Trained security people “don’t watch the race, they watch the crowd. That’s what they didn’t do (at the finish line).”
It’s one reason Sela believes a similar attack probably would not have succeeded in Israel. Decades of attacks and constant threats have forced the nation to think differently, using methods that have helped prevent hijackings and spectacular attacks at public events.
“In Israel, you cannot leave a bag unattended for more than 10 seconds before someone will ask questions,” Sela says.
“For some odd reason, the United States doesn’t want to adopt the European-Israeli way of doing business in security.”
He says the U.S. strategy is like trying to find a needle in a haystack by sifting through every piece of hay. By contrast, he says the “European-Israeli way is to blow the hay away and just leave the needle to be checked.”
Most importantly, he and others say, identifying potential terrorists before they even arrive at a marathon or stadium is the surest way to prevent the carnage witnessed in Boston.
“It is all about people and not their belongings,” Sela says, referring to Israel’s use of individual profiling, a controversial subject in the U.S.
“Israel relies heavily on the efficiency of its intelligence apparatuses, and most of the terrorist plots are being thwarted before they materialize,” says Boaz Ganor, executive director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel.
Sela says there isn’t enough emphasis on this in the U.S. because it’s expensive and doesn’t help politicians get re-elected. “It is away from the public eye so politicians cannot brag about it,” he says.
As for security guards, Israel has a governing body with more enforcement power than the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Sela says the Israel Security Agency requires such guards to have background checks and have training tailored for their jobs — training for a school guard being different than that for a guard at a stadium.
“The security personnel should be at least on the same learning curve and understand the terrorist’s calculations … and tailor the security plan accordingly,” says Ganor.
In the U.S., the quality of event security often comes down to the company. But those with better training and pay are more expensive. Because of this cost factor, Dodd says the trend has been for event organizers and venues to seek “the cheapest security providers and reward them with low-wage contracts that require the contractor to sacrifice training in order to make a profit.”
To make money from a contract, the security companies in turn try to reduce their own expenses, often by keeping costs down with labor that gets paid around $13 an hour on a part-time, irregular schedule.
But dollars, Sela argues, shouldn’t be a reason to compromise safety.
“What is the cost of human life? If you want to have a bomb in a stadium and 20 or 30 people killed and 170 wounded, and that’s not worth a half-million dollars in security, then human life is less favored than human life in Israel. … At the end of the day, it’s about how much you value a human life.”
Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY2:11 p.m. EDT April 21, 2013
The London Marathon comes six days after bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
LONDON — Less than a week after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, those taking part at the London Marathon were refusing to let fear cast a shadow over Sunday’s race.
On a chilly, but entirely clear, spring morning in the Blackheath area of the capital city’s south-east corridor, thousands of runners and their supporters observed a 30-second silence in a show of respect to the three people killed and more than 170 injured during last Monday’s traumatic events and the fraught aftermath.
But Sunday, many in the assembled crowd made clear, was not a day to be cowed or to give in. There may not have been the marked sense of jubilation or as much giddy, nervous energy as can sometimes accompany these events, but many runners were determined to make the best of it.
“We have confidence in London,” said Nicola Selwood, who was waiting for the mass start. “We put on the Olympics, so we can do this.” Selwood said that the city, and this race, should not be put off by terrorism.
But standing alongside Selwood was Clare Shepherd. “I just want to get around the course safely,” she said. And Graham Law, another runner, added, “If there’s worry, it’s more for our families who are watching today.”
Damian Crosby, a banker from London who was running Sunday, said his family would be out supporting him “so obviously their security is in the back of my mind.
“But you just need to get on with it. That’s the British way.”
London Marathon runners have raised more than $900 million in memory of a deceased loved one or to support a charity since the event was unveiled in 1981. Sunday, there was another reason to take part: Many ran in honor of those killed or injured in Boston.
London is showing its solidarity with the people of the Commonwealth — the Massachusetts one — in a number of ways.
A Twitter campaign launched by Lucy-Fraser Macnamar, otherwise known as @DayCentreLucy, was encouraging runners to “place your hands over your hearts as you cross the finish line in tribute to #Boston #handsoverhearts.”
Race officials said they did not have any way of tracking how many runners who competed in Boston also took part in the London Marathon.
The organizers of the London Marathon have pledged to donate about $5 for every finisher to The One Fund Boston, set up by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to help those most affected by what occurred in Boston.
But as more than 35,000 runners and half a million spectators descended on the marathon’s 26.2 mile route that snakes through the streets of the capital — from Blackheath in the southeast, to the Mall near St James’ Park, north of the River Thames — Monday’s explosions have caused London to rethink security arrangements.
London’s Metropolitan police said police numbers would be boosted by 40% compared with last year, with several hundred additional officers on the streets providing “visible reassurance to the participants and spectators alike.”
As a further security precaution, trash cans along the marathon’s course were removed.
“I would stress there is no change to the threat level to London and nothing at this stage to link the Boston bombings to the London marathon,” said Chief Supt. Julia Pendry, the Met’s ranking officer in charge of security at Sunday’s race.
“Nevertheless we want to do all we can to help provide a secure environment in which the runners, spectators and volunteers can enjoy themselves,” she said.
A mounted bike officer from London’s Metropolitan police who was guarding thousands of personal items, some of which from a distance resembled bags, said that so far everything was going to plan. The officer, who was not authorized to speak to the news media, did not express concern that the bags that runners had left behind on the lawns at Blackheath posed a security risk.
Londoners know something about terrorism, having lived through the deadly “7/7″ public transit bombings of 2005 and numerous attacks by Northern Irish terrorists, and were glad to show their solidarity with Boston.
“We’ve had this in London, and it’s nice to send the message that life goes on and that we can still do everyday, ordinary things,” said London resident Ken O’Callaghan. “It must be comforting to people in Boston to know that people in London are thinking of them.”
Londoner Cathy Ellis had been “very nervous” turning out to watch Margaret Thatcher’s funeral procession earlier in the week. Then authorities identified two U.S. residents as the Boston suspects, “and that makes me feel less nervous about being here,” she said. “We were relieved it wasn’t an international thing. … It’s their deal.”
Two Americans, on the other hand, said they weren’t nervous at all, though they’d once lived in Boston and were devastated by the bombing.
“You can’t live your life around it,” said Giselle Schuetz of New York City, who was surprised by the relatively small crowds in London and by her ability to walk close to the finish chute.
About an hour before the start of the elite women’s race, Amanda Trail, a government employee running her first marathon said that she was trying to put the events in Boston out of her mind.
“Runners are a tight community,” she said, waiting in line at a local coffee shop on Blackheath’s main street.
Lauren Kibble, who was waiting with her, and who is taking part in her third marathon, said that “in some ways we are more determined to have an even better race” than before.
By 9 a.m., thousands of spectators had already started congregating along the final stretch of the course, just in front of Buckingham Palace. Here in London,spectators are kept well away from the actual finish line on the city’s famous “Mall,” the broad avenue leading from the palace toward Trafalgar Square.
Buoyed by bright sunshine, spectators cheerfully applauded the junior wheelchair racers who were the first to head toward the finish. Helmeted bobbies and young army soldiers were almost as thick on the ground as spectators.
“I think it’s sad that we have to have security like this when its just the marathon,” said spectator Theresa Kalsky of London. “But it’s good. You feel safe.”
Race officials and the majority of runners wore black ribbons on their lapels or hats, but at the finish there was little sign that the Boston tragedy had raised anxieties.
“Anybody nervous?” David Bird of Saunderton, outside London, asked his teenaged daughters. They shook their heads. “Life goes on. … You still have to think there’s good in people.”
On Saturday, Nick Bitel, London Marathon’s chief executive, said: “In terms of our preparations, it’s all gone well, obviously there were some additional security issues following Boston, but that seems to be bedding down and the message of reassurance to runners has been very well received.”
Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the financial hub at Canary Wharf are some of the well-known landmarks that form the backdrop to the marathon’s course, which is known for being relatively flat and fast.
Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, won the women’s race in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 15 seconds. Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia finished strong to pass Emmanuel Mutai late to win the men’s title. Kebede finished in 2:06:03.
Contributing: Traci Watson
Security Firms’ Messages Resonate Louder Following Boston Marathon Attack
April 25, 2013
by R.V. Baugus
When a tragic situation unfolds such as the deaths and injuries following the bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon last week, it is only natural for those cities which have upcoming marathons to show extra vigilance in preparing for their events. It is a common spike in attention to detail that, while always present, goes up an extra notch.
Not surprisingly, it is also during these times that security companies offering explosive detection, building guards and other safety measures see an increase in business as they reinforce the message for keeping guests safe. Global Information Inc., which provides market research on the global security industry, said the private security industry was already projected to increase 5 percent annually to an estimated $63.8 billion in 2016, and that the events in Boston could spur even faster growth.
“It is a reality in our country that the interest in protecting infrastructure along with those inside them increases following a tragic event such as the Boston Marathon bombings, then decreases in interest as evidenced by state, local, and federal budget cuts between catastrophic events,” said Mark Camillo, senior vice president – strategic planning for Contemporary Services Corporation.
Camillo said that in the private sector, security is often viewed as a liability since it is difficult to translate preventative and protective measures into successful outcomes. “The truth of the matter is we’ll never know exactly how many acts of criminality, targeted violence and terrorism have been deterred by security operations in action, but common sense will tell you that if you have a heavy response element and a light prevention element, then responding is the likely outcome.
“Venues that have balanced, all-hazards plans that consist of protective measures, emergency response and recovery operations are best prepared for bad things that might happen.”
Steve Zito, a long-time venue manager who now serves as president of sports and entertainment for Andy Frain Services, noted that since the terrorism in Boston there has been an increase in providing facility screening services and additional security officers for some customers, including not only the sports and entertainment division, but also the commercial security, transportation and retail security areas.
Zito added that with the threat of terrorism on the rise more and more venues are seeking companies that are SAFETY Act Certified, which basically eliminates the massive liability that could arise out of a terrorist attack for sellers whose anti-terror products or services have been reviewed and approved by the Department of Homeland Security.
“There is new industry awareness for the mission critical value and overall risk protection for venues and events to only utilize companies that are certified for the provision of their event security services,” Zito said.
The Federal government passed the SAFETY Act a year after 9/11 to “encourage the development and deployment of anti-terrorism services and technologies that will substantially enhance the protection of the nation.
“Our customers know that they have a substantial basis to avoid and/or limit tort liability arising out of a covered act of terrorism involving our security services,” said Zito, whose company received SAFETY Act coverage in 2006 and renewed in 2011.
As with 9/11, the Boston Marathon was another example to warn against complacency when it comes to events and security.
“The number one threat to a resilient security operation is always complacency,” said Camillo. “We owe it to all those in attendance at a public event to provide them with a safe and secure environment that has an exercised contingency plan ready to go should needed.”
April 19, 2013, Pan Stadia & Arena Management
There was crowd violence last weekend at a number of football stadiums across Europe. At Wembley stadium during the semi-final of the FA Cup between Millwall and Wigan, Millwall fans were booed by the rest of the crowd as they fought each other. Police entered the spectator area and removed some of the perpetrators. Wembley has in general reduced the need for police at events by developing its stewarding and private security team.
After the Newcastle versus Sunderland game four police officers were injured as trouble broke out in Newcastle town centre. The BBC reported that bottles were thrown and bins set on fire as mounted officers tried to move crowds back to allow visiting fans to be escorted to Metro and rail services. Northumbria Police said 29 arrests were made during the game itself.
In Athens at the weekend AEK Athens players were chased off the pitch by their fans. Players went to the dressing rooms as play was halted. Police and security officials moved in to clear the pitch but after a further 90-minute delay the game was called off.
Meanwhile in the UK, the police’s responsibility to police the area around a stadium has been established through the courts. West Yorkshire Police lost its appeal over policing costs matches at Elland Road stadium, the home of Leeds United Football club.
The force was seeking to reverse a previous court ruling that the club was not responsible for paying for policing streets and car parks near the ground. But the Court of Appeal in London rejected the police’s claim.
The decision means that the force will have to repay about £1m to Leeds United for three years worth of policing fees.
Two fans shot dead as World Cup stadium is put to test
Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:30am EDT
(Reuters) – Two soccer fans were shot dead on their way to a match at the Arena Castelao World Cup stadium in the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza on Sunday, media reported.
The national Globo network’s website (www.globo.com) cited police sources in their report that the two young men, fans of visiting team Ceara, were shot in the head from a passing vehicle allegedly carrying two Fortaleza supporters.
The Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper (www.folha.uol.com.br) said Ceara fans started a fight by throwing stones at Fortaleza supporters, which sparked the shooting.
They said an unidentified man had been arrested in connection with the incident which occurred about five kilometers from the Arena Castelao and police carried out severe security checks at vantage points close to the stadium.
Ceara beat bitter rivals Fortaleza 1-0 in their Cearense state championship match in the Atlantic coast city, where the stadium had its first test for Confederations Cup.
The Confederations Cup, to be played by eight nations from June 15-30, is a dress rehearsal for the World Cup finals a year later in Brazil.
Folha quoted World Cup local organizing committee official Tiago Paes as saying the incident was not directly related to Sunday’s match, which went smoothly with a crowd of about 15,000.
“There is a lot of training work by the military police, civil police and even the army. We don’t have such concerns for the Confederations Cup,” Paes said.
(Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; Editing by John O’Brien)
By Brendan O’Brien | Reuters 4/14/13
(Reuters) – A Texas man used a gun to commit suicide in the infield of a National Rifle Association-sponsored NASCAR race at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth late on Saturday, local authorities said.
Kirk Franklin, 42, of nearby Saginaw died after shooting himself at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday during the NRA 500 Sprint Cup race, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.
Franklin was involved in a verbal altercation with other race spectators before the incident, said Daniel Segura, a Fort Worth Police Department spokesman.
Franklin’s body was found in the back seat of a truck, according to an online police report.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Edith Honan and Eric Walsh)
By Jason Sickles, Yahoo! | The Lookout 4/15/2013
Dozens of people have been seriously injured after two reported explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The Boston Globe cited witnesses who reported hearing two large explosions shortly before 3 p.m. ET. The Associated Press reported at least one of the explosions came near the entrance of the Fairmont Copley Hotel.
By ROB HARRIS (AP Sports Writer) 4/15/13
LONDON (AP) — A fan punches a police horse as the streets of Newcastle are turned into a battleground. Bloodied supporters brawl inside Wembley Stadium as weeping youngsters watch on. Fighting erupts at train stations as hooligans hurl racist abuse.
English football has been in a time warp this weekend, with a return of the crowd trouble that stained the national game in the 1970s and 80s when its fans were the pariahs of Europe.
Almost 80 fans were arrested as violence spread from stadiums to the streets and transport network, prompting fears that the ”English disease” had resurfaced.
”You never finally defeat football hooliganism,” British sports minister Hugh Robertson told The Associated Press. ”Huge, huge strides have been made since the 1980s. The situation has been transformed but we don’t appear to be able to make it go away forever.
”You’ve got to remain vigilant and remain tough when it occurs.”
Police are acting quickly to prevent the disorder spreading as the season enters its final month.
”It is too soon to say if this is an emerging trend,” said Andy Holt, who oversees policing of football in England at the Association of Chief Police Officers. ”But we will review what happened at the weekend and make any changes if they are necessary.”
Wembley witnessed its most violent scenes since the rebuilt national stadium opened six years ago as Millwall fans turned on each other during Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal loss to Wigan.
Fourteen arrests were made inside the stadium as the disorder was allowed to build throughout the second half in the Millwall end. As trouble spilled out of the stadium into a nearby tube station, another six Millwall fans were arrested for a series of offenses, including affray and racist abuse.
Fans of the second-tier London club, which was renowned for its struggle with hooliganism in the 1970s and 80s, made light of their unruly reputation by chanting: ”No one likes us and we don’t care.”
But the American-owned club has sent out a clear message that it does.
”The reputation of our club, which over the last few years has been steadily and painstakingly rebuilt, has been severely damaged once again,” Millwall chief executive Andy Ambler said after talks with Football Association chiefs on Monday. ”We understand that there are now bridges to be rebuilt, and if there are lessons to be learned from the weekend I’m sure all parties will be keen to take them on board and ensure that those unsavory scenes are not repeated.”
Ambler vowed to help bring the perpetrators of the ”mindless violence” to justice, and Newcastle was also forced to condemn its own fans on Monday.
Newcastle fans responded to a 3-0 loss at home to local rival Sunderland on Sunday by running amok in the city center, with three police officers injured after being attacked during clashes.
In one scene that provoked widespread outrage, a man was also seen swinging at a police horse. Thirty men were arrested, and Newcastle vowed to impose lifetime bans from matches on anyone found guilty.
”We were embarrassed and appalled by the behavior of a minority of so-called fans who last night were involved in disturbances and disorder,” Newcastle said in a statement.
British Transport Police also reported unrest on Sunday with fans traveling to and from the FA Cup semifinal between Manchester City and Chelsea. Seven Chelsea fans were arrested and four City fans were held for offenses including assault and racist abuse.
On Saturday, 11 fans of second-tier club Watford were also arrested as they traveled from a match at Peterborough through London’s King’s Cross rail station
”In recent years, police, football clubs and other partners have made great strides in tackling the (hooligan) problem, and we’ve seen enormous reductions in offenses thanks to a combination of robust policing and the banning of troublesome individuals from attending matches,” said Andrew Trotter, chief constable of the British Transport Police.
”The scenes at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and in Newcastle on Sunday serve as a firm and sobering reminder that there is still much more to be done in tackling football-related disorder.”
The incidents came days after the 2018 World Cup organizing committee said they are looking to England to see how to solve Russia’s own hooliganism annulled.
”What you achieved in England in the past 30 years was a true revolution,” World Cup director Alexander Djordjadze said.
But the ugly reminder over the weekend of England’s hooligan past has reinforced the urgency to make sure the progress in cleaning up the game isn’t lost.
”The events of the weekend … do not represent a return to the dark days of the 70s and 80s,” said Robertson, the government minister with responsibility for football. ”The world saw the very best of British sport last summer (at the London Olympics). The last thing we want is these sorts of incidents.”
Robertson said the early indications are that the incidents were caused by a ”combination of too much drink, warm weather and an enormous amount of stupidity from the fans involved.”
Worse crowd disorder has been witnessed on the continent this season, with three Borussia Moenchengladbach fans stabbed in Rome ahead of a Europa League match against Lazio in February.
A Tottenham supporter was also stabbed in Rome in November, while the London club’s fans were attacked in a Lyon pub for another Europa League game in February.
This weekend saw riot police deploy tear gas in Italy to deal with disorder outside AC Milan’s match against Napoli.
And in Brazil, two Ceara fans were shot in the head after being confronted by supporters of local rival Fortaleza while traveling to a stadium being used at the 2014 World Cup.