As the ugly head of football violence raises itself again from the ashes, we see history repeat itself time and time again with the same consequences, the same rants, and the same platitudes and invective which accompanied the stick and the carrot.
But as with all human nature, we never learn from our lessons and we continue to make the same mistakes.
There are four reasons for this:
- Those that make the strategic decisions in regard to football violence and crowd control often do not understand the operational delivery of these areas and thus fail to consult the key crowd managers and advisors on the ground. We never listen to the experts. Would you let an artist design a barrier? I think that we should Duck out of that one.
- With the best will in the world, the academic view of crowding and violence does not meet the practitioners and thus there is a disjoint in the dialogue. Remember the sociologist who created theories from his bedroom without even going out onto the street to check them. When he admitted this, it was too late and his theories were the backbone of much sociological practice.
- We always relax after a while as we think that it is safe. However, we fail to eradicate both the proximate and distal causation from the picture and thus when we reinstitute what went before, the same problems are repeated.
- Lack of interoperability at a strategic, tactical and operational level. ‘I am right so I won’t listen to you’, instead, let’s look at this across the structure.
People have been running on the pitch and assaulting others for years.
I remember after my beloved Sunderland had beaten Leeds in the FA Cup Final, they played QPR in the league. After going 3-0 down, a fan ran onto the pitch and assaulted the referee and Sunderland were banned from playing in the Charity Shield.
Why does it happen? It happens because of many psychosocial and physical reasons which, when brought together in the melting pot of sport, spill over and in a moment of madness or a planned attack, the protagonist becomes the architect of something much bigger than they bargained for.
In the bigger scheme of things, how many assaults do we get a season? Not many is the answer, so is it worth highlighting a way for fans to get 15 minutes of fame? Also, by highlighting it, we make it something to achieve, notoriety with little consequence and 14 weeks in prison of little consequence.
Think of the proximate cause, the actual attack, what distal causations create the environment for the attack?
- An unstable country brought on by a government and an opposition not fit to govern
- Rising prices causing angst
- Beer goggles after a few pints
- Companies being unable to pay their stewards and security a fit wage and to train them appropriately
- Lack of interoperability between organisations
- Short memories and lapsing concentration
The list goes on forever.
Hopefully, a knee jerk reaction will not occur as this would mean that the few had spoiled it for the majority. However, as in all walks of life, an independent review by an expert and not someone who has a vested interest in the area may work wonders but for how long will the powers that be heed the warnings and keep in place the solution for the problem.
Beware, if we are not dynamic, neither will our plans be.