Irish Examiner view: Secret vice of soccer hooligans

Cocaine use
Irish Examiner view: Secret vice of soccer hooligans

The flagrant level of illegal drug use, an under-reported aspect of supporter behaviour, requires closer attention in the future. Picture: iStock

The coruscating independent report into the shameful scenes which accompanied the Euro 2020 final at Wembley this summer generated many headlines and column inches which focused, rightly, on the public safety aspects of the violent disorder which took place inside and outside Wembley Stadium.

The consequences of that day further besmirched the British reputation for event management, so carefully groomed during the long-ago sunny successes of London’s 2012 Olympics. Among the terrifying descriptions presented in evidence by an FA official was of 6,000 people “standing like zombies on the line” waiting to rush the gates when they opened post-match. Just as other people were preparing to leave.

But it is the flagrant level of illegal drug use, an under-reported aspect of supporter behaviour, that equally requires closer attention in the future. Cocaine has been clearly in evidence and available among supporters of Premier League clubs and followers of England’s national team for at least a decade. It even has a terrace song reference: “[XX] is having a party/bring your lager and some Charlie.”

That combination of alcohol and class A stimulants has made its contribution to worsening atmospheres and fan aggression at a number of prominent games.

The Casey report underlines that it is prevalent to the point of becoming normalised. The ubiquity and relative cheapness of cocaine poses a threat to society, and not only in the jurisdiction of our nearest neighbours. This is another challenge which needs to be faced.

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