I've always struggled to understand the thought process behind football violence. You don't hear about it as much these days but it's still going on and it makes travelling to watch games somewhat nerve-wracking at times. This is especially the case when teams from different countries face off against each other, notably in the Champions League and Europa League fixtures.
As a Liverpool FC season ticket holder, I have been somewhat sheltered from this kind of violence because I only go to the home games. English football supporters are relatively lucky these days because things are much calmer here in the current era than in the past in relation to these kinds of incidents. A lot of the trouble seems to happen when English football supporters travel to away games in UEFA competitions.
However, there are isolated incidents that occur over here and one such example was that of the Liverpool vs Roma game in the Champions League back in April. Outside a pub next to Anfield, Sean Cox was eagerly waiting to watch his beloved Reds play when he was attacked by Roma fans for no other reason than his allegiance to Liverpool. In an attack that lasted a mere 17 seconds, Sean was knocked to the ground and beaten with belts, and would ultimately end up in a coma.
News outlets rightly covered this story after the game, but it feels like the rest of the world has forgotten about Sean and how this incident has affected him and his family over half a year later. Although Sean was brought out of a coma, he is still unable to talk, walk, or even sit upright without assistance. Of course, this means that he can no longer work to help feed his family, and they are now struggling to make ends meet. All of this because he happened to support a different football club to the cowardly Roma thugs.
There seems to be a disconnect between rivalry and respect for other human beings. Sean's three children now have to see their father unable to lead a normal life because he went to support his football club. Ultimately, football is entertainment and there should be no place for this kind of behaviour. I would like to see huge fines and sanctions placed on clubs who cannot control their supporters in these fixtures.
The story of Sean is just one incident among many that occur around the world every year. Something that sickened me recently, however, was the lack of support offered to Sean and his family by British football authorities. An online fundraiser was set up in the hope of providing Sean and his family with some much needed financial help. With a goal of £2M to cover medical bills, loss of earnings, and other things I'm not too clued up on, the footballing community has stepped up and raised a whopping £435,000 so far. However, this fundraiser was seemingly unimportant to people with the means to help out, who would prefer to raise £250,000 from each Premier League club as a departing gift for executive chairman, Richard Scudamore.
This is a man who earns £2.5M per season and yet he's walking away with a further handout of £5M as a thank you gift for his retirement. This kind of behaviour makes me feel sick and shows exactly where the rich cats' priorities lie. Thankfully, there has been a backlash from fans of all clubs to this announcement, although it doesn't seem to have made any difference. I guess the parting message I wish to convey here is that we should all take the time to think about other human beings, regardless of who they support in football. Rivalry is fine, but there needs to be a huge decrease in football violence around the world. This is supposed to be fun.