A rich breeding ground for hooliganism

Someone had to die before the state decided to do something about the violence in and around soccer matches. The government decided Friday to ban all official team sports in Greece until April 13 as a measure to prevent further violence between fans following the death of a supporter on Thursday during a fight involving some 500 hooligans. The authorities say they are determined to apprehend perpetrators as provided for by law, to install closed-circuit television cameras in stadiums and have ordered police to take a harsher line. Yet will this be enough? Law enforcement is not much good without any crime prevention measures. The only way to get families back into the grandstands is for the teams and their managements to break up organized supporters’ groups, thereby showing that they condemn the excesses committed by some of them. Evidence discovered by police during raids on supporters’ clubs – and presented on television – included hashish, precision scales, clubs, knives and flares. One wonders why the teams have not abolished them, or why he state has not obliged them to. The Professional Sports Commission, which grants these fan clubs their permits, now has all the reason it needs to revoke them. No real fan of the game will accuse them of authoritarianism.

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