Plenty of blame to go around for Euro violence

Russian soccer fans walk protected by Polish riot police in Warsaw, Poland, June 12, 2012. (PETER...

Russian soccer fans walk protected by Polish riot police in Warsaw, Poland, June 12, 2012. (PETER ANDREWS/Reuters)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:02 PM ET

WARSAW - The Polish capital was still sorting out the mess that remained Wednesday following disastrous confrontations between Russian and Polish soccer fans a day earlier at Euro 2012.

Police were looking at videos and pictures, UEFA was investigating the situation and the mayor of Warsaw was apologizing to everyone for what happened

The debris of the day included some startling numbers -- 184 hooligans were arrested, 10 people injured, 6,000 police used, 770 more brought in during the night, hundreds of rubber bullets fired, gallons of water fired through water cannons and dozens of tear gas canisters used.

What it cost the city, country and tournament in bad publicity can't be measured.

It was a horrid situation for which many people can share the blame.

Start by pointing the finger at the hooligans, people without conscience or pride.

Next comes fans who really aren't fans, who really have no desire to watch a soccer game but only seek to create trouble.

The suits at UEFA have to shoulder part of the blame because they bury their head in the sands, refusing to really punish soccer federations the way English club teams were punished for their hooligans in the late 1980s.

The Russian fans deserve much of the blame. Why in God's name would they plan a march to celebrate a Russian national holiday in a country they occupied for decades? That's like stepping on a guys toes and when he bends over to hold them, kicking him in the butt. What could they possibly be thinking? Do they believe in some way the Poles are still colonials?

Soccer is a sport that is not only about athletics but also about history.

Nations never forget a transgression by another country. Being occupied by a foreign nation for so long isn't something that's quickly forgotten.

Is there anyone who didn't see this riot coming?

The media needs to take some of the blame, especially the Polish media. Instead of merely reporting, as all good media outlets should do, the papers here took giant bellows and fanned the fire.

They went beyond reporting. They dressed coaches in military garb. They used language that evoked images of invasions and war.

They got what they wanted, a confrontation, and it wound up damaging their nation's reputation.

The only group that has anything to feel good about is the Polish police. They moved quickly, knew exactly what was about to happen and jumped in early before large groups started to fight. Any kind of lesser action and the damage would have been far more severe.

The Russians will go through court trials that will see them expelled from Poland and European Union visas revoked for five years, Interior Minister Jacek Cichocki said. He added that the detained Poles should "not sleep soundly," because they will face trials that could lead to harsh sentences.

Hang on!

They will expel the Russians from Poland? Wow, now there's a real penalty.

The government's tough talk will last while the tournament is on and the world media is watching. The good minister will no longer take an interest once Euro is done.

Now is the time to back up tough talk with tough laws that deal with racism and soccer hooliganism, laws other nations can look at an emulate.

Politicians need to feel the embarrassment their people felt, people who have waited six long years for this coming-out party to the rest of the sports world.

Governments have spent more money than they have in the treasury in order to put on a good show, to attract tourism, to put a happy face on a country most people have never seen.

Rightly or wrongly, the government believes having Euro in Poland will help its people.

The hooligans might has well have stolen money right out of the Polish people's pockets. They took away hope and respect that was owed the nation.

This is where Poland needs to make a statement that what happened won't be tolerated, not only for the good of the game but for the people who live where the game is played.


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