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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Police need public backing to fight hooliganism ]

Police need public backing to fight hooliganism

THE WEEKEND’S football violence was roundly condemned by the government and the political parties – as is the usual practice. All expressed their disapproval of the supporters’ behaviour, which was “out of control”, warning that “hooliganism and fanaticism have taken on epidemic proportions,” and stressing the need for measures against the troublemakers.

It was worrying that the violence was now directed against the police, noted a concerned deputy yesterday. Over 30 policemen were lightly-injured as fans pelted each other and the police with rocks outside the Larnaca stadium, after the Anorthosis-Omonia match. Fans even managed to smash the windscreen of a police car escorting their buses back to Nicosia, by hurling a beer bottle at it. On arrival in Nicosia, other Omonia fans threw rocks at the same patrol car, a police announcement said.

Why did the patrol car drive off as it was pelted with rocks, instead of calling for reinforcements to deal with the hooligans? We can only guess that the police could not take any more negative publicity from the politicians, the clubs and the media. The previous weekend, when trouble erupted during and after the Omonia-APOEL match and the police tried to restore order, they were accused by everyone for allegedly using “excessive violence”. They were also criticised for using tear-gas to disperse a crowd of angry fans.

This is one of the primary reasons why the situation with the hooligans is now out of control. The police are not allowed to enforce law and order because whenever they try to they are accused by the media, clubs and politicians of using “excessive violence”.

All attention shifts from the hooligans to the police, who have become everyone’s favourite punching bag. The problem then becomes the police – and not the violent behaviour of the hooligans. It is as if the police can stop the violence by politely asking the thugs to stop throwing rocks and causing damage to property.

Under the circumstances, it is gross hypocrisy for the very same people, who last week were complaining about the excessive violence used by police against hooligans, to issue warnings about football hooliganism getting out of control.

It is these hypocrites, who want hooliganism eradicated “without the use of force”, who are contributing to the growth of the problem by preventing the police from doing their job properly. On Sunday police did nothing as they were pelted with rocks outside the stadium and their patrol car was destroyed, so that the force could be spared criticism.

But unless the police are allowed to do their job, hooliganism will never be brought under control. It is foolish to suggest that the thugs can be stopped without resort to some force. Of course police will occasionally have to use tear-gas to disperse a violent crowd, even though it would also affect innocent bystanders. The politicians, the clubs, the football authorities and the media have a duty to back the police when such action is taken if they genuinely want football violence to be tackled.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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