Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brave new world

So I was reading The Guardian's Liberty Central blog yesterday - this blog's wishy-washy, lefty liberal credentials are so right on it's hard to believe I grew up the tough way on the mean streets of, eh, a leafy East Lothian commuter town - when I came across this:
Three weeks ago, the east Lancashire derby between Burnley and Blackburn Rovers took place in normally tense conditions, in which fans from both sides were isolated before and after the fixture at Burnley's ground, Turf Moor. Trouble after the match was reported in the media with Superintendant Terry Woods, of Lancashire police, issuing a standard statement about a few troublemakers. "Unfortunately we have had to deal with some disorder inside and outside the ground," he said. "However, the operation that is in place has enabled us to successfully deal with those pockets of disorder rapidly."

Yesterday, the Police State website publicised a video that shows shocking levels of violence by the police and which certainly puts a different slant on what actually happened after the game. Officers are seen wading into the crowd with batons flailing. It is only a 40-second video, but the fans did not appear to be presenting a violent threat.
As far as I can tell it was only really picked up in match reports, mainly in an "unforgivable crowd trouble" kind of tone, and was pretty much ignored elsewhere.

I don't know the rights and wrongs of this, who was to blame, who instigated it. The video does look like certain policemen are at least on the brink of losing control, although it's impossible to know what went before.

It's a reminder though that the global shininess of English football's brand continues to hide some ugliness.

And it's a warning to everyone involved with football that we can't be too complacent if we want to avoid a return to the dark old days.

If, and it is a big if, the police were to blame then it has to be addressed as it will simply increase tensions and make games more difficult to police. If, and again I stress if, it was fans that caused all the problems then action has to be taken against them and the club.

This is the video: