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Opinion

PSG Ultras attacking Newcastle United fans was zero surprise – Or at least shouldn’t have been

3 months ago
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PSG Ultras attacked a bar on Monday night because there were Newcastle United fans inside it.

This incident in Paris thankfully appears to have seen nobody seriously injured, if at all.

The Newcastle United fans chasing off the PSG Ultras.

The footage shared online, from those inside the bar, featured flares and chairs thrown from the outside. With a number of Newcastle fans who were there, saying that actually the footage passed around on social media made it look a lot worse than it was. All over very quickly and the PSG Ultras running away, looking for an easier target.

Other footage that featured earlier on social media, had shown a large group of PSG Ultras roaming the streets, clearly looking for mischief.

None of this would surely have been a surprise to anybody with any knowledge of how they go on.

Trouble at football in France is largely centred around just a few clubs – with Marseille, Lyon and PSG the stand outs.

When the Champions League draw was made back at the end of August, it didn’t need a genius to work out what it would mean with Group F fixtures.

However, Northumbria Police didn’t appear to be on the ball, seemingly taken by surprise at how the PSG Ultras went on when they visited Newcastle.

I can only talk about what I saw with my own eyes and what people I know I can trust / rely on told me, but when Borussia Dortmund fans were in Toon, the Police presence appeared to be far larger and more prepared for any trouble, than they had been for that PSG match.

Dortmund Fans Walking To St James' Park Newcastle

IMAGO/Sportimage

Which was crazy really.

I would have put the mortgage on both home and away the Dortmund matches passing by with no issues.

Whilst the exact opposite with both PSG and AC Milan fans, who also have a reputation for misbehaviour and looking for easy isolated targets. Summed up when the Newcastle United fan was stabbed in Milan in that cowardly attack and put in hospital  the night before the game, missing the match.

There was a lot of trouble kicking off in both Paris and Milan when PSG and AC Milan played each other, again, totally predictable.

I just hope that Northumbria Police are fully on the ball when AC Milan visit next month, as they won’t be anything like our mates from Dortmund.

Similarly, here’s hoping that everybody stays safe in Paris for the rest of this trip and thinks about where they are heading. Sad to say but that is the reality with somewhere like Paris, especially when visiting for football.

Also worth noting that, as other Newcastle United fans who have travelled to many European matches will testify to, when you go to other countries it is rarely like the UK where the Police are involved. In this country, the Police first and foremost tend to try and make sure that football fans visiting to England/UK are looked after and kept safe. However, I have rarely seen that the case abroad, certainly not to anything like the same levels. Germany is probably the big exception. I certainly wouldn’t be relying on the Police in the likes of Italy and France. Just look at what happened at the 2016 Euros, when the French Police were embarrassing in their response, as any English person was a potential victim as massive gangs of Russian thugs roamed the streets. It took them forever to tackle those from Russia who clearly had come for that sole reason.

This isn’t to say that in France, it is impossible to have a good time when there for the football. It is a huge country and very diverse, so say when Newcastle fans visited Metz, that is a very different place to Paris, it is situated in the very north east of the country next to Germany. Then of course you have Monaco which is around 600 miles south of Paris, we also played them back in the Keegan days, many / most NUFC fans staying in Nice.

As Newcastle United fans, we have already found that these Champions League adventures are a little different to what was the case back in Sir Bobby’s days. Especially when it comes to ticket availability. Half the (black and white) world appeared to be in the San Siro back when Shearer scored twice as we drew with Inter Milan. This time it has been no more than three or four thousand for the Dortmund and AC Milan trips, whilst PSG have simply chosen to ignore the rules of a minimum away tick allocation with only around 2,000 tickets for NUFC fans tonight. It was the same for Dortmund and AC Milan fans, yet UEFA refuse to do anything and made PSG comply with their own rules!

On the subject of away fans and Champions League matches, indeed any games in European competition. I sadly see a day when UEFA and other relevant authorities end up banning away supporters at European club matches. There have been countless incidents in and around European matches in recent times, with indeed the vast majority not involving English clubs / fans. A massive factor of course is that between many countries on the continent there is basically no real border and so you can just drive from one country to another, with the Police / Authorities having little / no idea of who is on the move.

I can see UEFA one day using whatever incident(s) as an excuse for stopping away fans attending all European club matches. Indeed, I have no doubt that the vast majority of clubs, Police forces and local authorities would welcome this. Less hassle and far cheaper to Police matches if it is home fans only in all stadiums.

Whether this would be unfair or not for the vast majority of fans / fanbases is irrelevant for UEFA and others.

A ban on away fans would be a crying shame,  because travelling abroad watching Newcastle United takes some beating.

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