Football

It was a day of mixed emotions for England fans on Saturday.

UEFA's threat of disqualification for England and Russia is an injustice for the teams

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It has been an eventful start to Euro 2016 in many ways, as we had expected, on the pitch; however, equally as eventful off it, with violence casting a gloomy shadow over the opening days of one of the biggest international football tournaments.

UEFA's threat to potentially disqualify England and Russia from Euro 2016, if violence of such nature takes place again, is the worst possible news for Roy Hodgson and his men, as they prepare to face rivals Wales.

However, more importantly, should such drastic measures be taken - although at this stage it is merely a warning - the consequences would be a complete injustice for both England and Russia.

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The governing body of European football has done nothing to better its image - after its farcical behaviour in recent years, which saw its former president Michel Platini banned for eight years from football related activities - and their threats don't represent good management, either.

What takes place on the field, amongst 22 men, is where UEFA's focus should lay, and in organising and maintaining major tournaments. However, the governing body should not be making such bold statements, based on how 'fans' of the national teams chose to behave outside of the ground.

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I, like many I believe, respect UEFA's decision to fine the respective football associations of nations whose fans behave poorly inside stadiums, as this can tarnish the image of the sport. However, to threaten to impose sanctions that would affect matters on the field, is crossing the line.

Disciplinary proceedings against Russia have already begun, after what have been called "totally unacceptable" acts of violence, ahead of England's game versus Russia in Marseille on Saturday, which included charges of racist behaviour, crowd disturbances and setting off fireworks.

UEFA, quite rightly, should be fining the football associations of countries whose fan misbehave, in an attempt to persuade them to work harder and campaign for fans to behave respectably and remove hooliganism from the sport. However, it's unforeseeable that disqualifying a nation from the tournament can have any positive affect on the sport.

Threats

It's simple to see that these threats from UEFA are aimed at the fans, more than the English FA or the Russian Football Union, in hope that it will put an end to the ugly scenes we have seen in recent days. However, as logical that would seem, it will not work.

The people this is aimed at are not football fans; they are an unwanted minority of individuals who use football as a way of, quite literally, getting their kicks. Therefore, they will not care for what impact it could have on their national team.

Excitement Mounts As England Prepare To Take On Russia In The Euros

For the rest of England's hardcore support out in France, and more importantly the players who have put in weeks of preparation in hope of proudly taking their nation into the latter stages of the tournament, it would not simply be unfair, but outrageous.

We should also not forget that it was the Russian fans chasing England supporters, after breaking through segregation in the stadium, on Saturday. It was the Russian fans who wore England colours to mix in with England supporters outside bars and restaurants, before attacking Three Lions fans who were unaware of their presence.

Pre-planned attack

It was also the Russian fans who chased England supporters through the streets, leaving one man in a life threatening condition, and wore gum shields and MMA (mixed martial arts) gloves in order to go about their pre-planned attack.

Yes, England fans were involved and did cause trouble, but not on the scale of the brutal, vicious and pre-planned attacks Russian fans put into action. However, I would still not want to see Russia kicked out of the tournament, despite all the trouble they have instigated.

The UK government is set to send more British police to France for Thursday's game against Wales, while alcohol restrictions will be put into place near "sensitive" venues. However, while the UK will do its part, France is also set to try to improving security measures inside the stadium, with segregation of fans having proved problematic.

Excitement Mounts As England Prepare To Take On Russia In The Euros

Hooligans

The reputation England fans gained during the 70s and 80s, as hooligans, is clearly still being held against this generation of Three Lions fans, but while there will be those that go looking for trouble, UEFA must understand that their threats are utterly unjustifiable.

Hodgson's men simply have no say on how fans behave, and disqualification would have no impact either. What's to stop the hooligans from staying on in France throughout the tournament, if England are sent home? 

Northern Ireland and Poland fans also clashed before their match, but, what would have gained high media coverage in previous tournaments, has been swept under the carpet, due to the high-profile nature of the Russia and England violence.

Have UEFA considered what would happen if fans of more of the big nations caused similar levels of trouble? Could they afford to kick out the likes of Spain, Germany, Italy and so on? It would certainly make for a less captivating spectacle.

But if UEFA want to take serious action, to make sure this doesn't happen again, they should ban the troublesome fans from future tournaments, rather than threaten national teams with disqualification. They must distinguish between football and politics.

Would disqualification be a fair punishment for both England and Russia? Have your say in the comment box below.

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Topics:
Wayne Rooney
Euro 2016
Russia National Football Team
England Football
Football
Joe Hart
David Beckham
James Milner

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