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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Fans react to Italy’s Euro 2020 win amid concerns over ‘chaotic hooliganism’ in Qatar


Italy was crowned the winner of the Euro 2020 after beating England 3-2 in the final on penalties.

Football fans in Qatar stormed social media to celebrate Italy’s win after it trumping England’s “it’s coming home” dream to clinch its Euro 2020 trophy for the first time since 1968.

The night was fraught with tension with the two national teams battling to secure the title, leaving fans on the edge of their seats till the final moments of the match.

This time, however, England was not so lucky.

After a 1-1 extra-time draw at a raucous Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved two penalties and sealed the country’s first major title in 15 years.

The match was definitely one for the books and came as a sigh of relief for thousands of Italian fans following both final losses in 2000 and 2012. It also marks the first final to be decided on penalties since Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in 1976.

The victory came to the dismay of English fans whose team has not won a major trophy since 1966.

Celebration and heartbreak from both camps also echoed in Qatar and the Gulf region, with fans rushing to Twitter to comment on the final result. Just minutes after the final whistle, the #Italy_England jumped to the number one Twitter’s trending list.

“It’s a special football day for football when the ball finally does justice to its champions. Messi on an individual level, and the masters of Europe, the Italians, on a team level” one football fan tweeted.

“Congratulations to the fans of Argentina and Messi and congratulations to the Italian fans! Good luck to our team in the Gold Cup,” another tweet read.

Read also: It’s here! 2022 FIFA World Cup trophy arrives in Qatar.

However, the scenes looked different on the other side of the globe, with videos of thousands of English fans breaking glass bottles and throwing trash in London’s Leicester Square, circulating on social media.

While this may not be unusual for English fans, many in Qatar and the wider Gulf region questioned whether such scenes would be seen at the World Cup in the Gulf state next year.

“Can you imagine that those types of fans will be in Qatar next year? What will happen in Doha,” a football fan tweeted.

“RIP to Katara and Msheireb 2022,” another user tweeted, commenting on a video of English fans in London.

“Those hooligans are coming to Qatar,” a Twitter user said. “Where are those who say the Europeans are civilised, unlike like the Arabs? These are the Europeans who preach about being classy and respectful of the laws,” another user quoted.

While concerns are well place, Qatar’s authorities have set up systems to ensure security is maintained at the tournament next year.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has designated a number of strategic locations around the country to be “fan zones” for those wishing to celebrate, enjoy entertainment and quality food and consume alcohol while watching the match.

Fan zones will work as extensions of the stadiums and will involve entertainment programmes to “enhance the experience of both visiting and local fans.” Since alcohol will not be served inside stadiums during the matches, fans can only drink in licensed locations or inside fan zones.

This will allow authorities to control and limit any indecent behaviour that may occur, without the need for stopping celebrations.

The fan zones will be manned by police officers and security teams that will stop any conduct that goes against the country’s laws and regulations.

Fans should also note that public drunkenness – similar to a ‘drunk and disorderly’ offence in several countries – as well as drinking in public, is not allowed in Qatar.

But chaotic scenes are not the only thing people are concerned about.

Football has a long history of violence and racial abuse, both of which were prominent during and post Sunday’s match. When England lost, fans hurled racist slurs at players from the team and also assaulted their Italian counterparts.

England players Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho – all black players – bore the brunt of abuse from angry fans for missing the penalties at the shootout.

Almost immediately, racist fans left a barrage of racist comments on their social media accounts, including monkey emoticons. The thuggish and xenophobic display from fans left much of the nation appalled on Twitter, with officials and footballing bodies labelling it as “horrifying” and “disgusting.”

England Manager Gareth Southgate said the racist abuse is “unforgivable” while Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the actions.

The Football Association also said it was “appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media.”

“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible,” it said in a statement.

DW Sports also rushed to condemn a barrage of racist online attacks that came in response to a tweet it posted, saying that such actions prove that “there’s a long way to go in the fight against racism in football and beyond.”

For Qatar, cracking down on racial abuse of footballers and fans on and off the pitch could well be one of the biggest tests during the upcoming World Cup, especially given the size and popularity of the tournament.

It is still unclear how Qatar is planning to control such actions during the games. However, several Qatari figures have called on fans to respect the culture of the country and abide by the rules and laws, all of which prohibit discrimination, racism and violence in all its forms.

“Sport’s potential is too great, and too influential, to overlook or dismiss. And that’s why we have worked tirelessly to ensure that 2022 leaves genuine lasting social legacies that make a difference in communities across the world for decades to come,” said the Secretary-General of the SC, Hassan Al Thawadi, during a United Nations conference.

“Qatar pledges to cooperate, coordinate, share and pool our knowledge from hosting the greatest tournament in the world and to give that knowledge to the world in the same way as we have so graciously been given it by other countries.”

Qatar’s 2022 World Cup

The long-awaited tournament will take place between November 21 and December 18 at eight state-of-the-art stadiums built and dedicated for the big event.

In 2010, the Gulf state made history after becoming the first ever Arab country to win the right to host the World Cup tournament.

FIFA officially announced that the tournament will be played during the winter season for the first time due to extreme humidity and heat levels in the summer months in Doha.

Read also: Spanish football star Javi Martinez set to join Qatar SC

Last week, the country officially received the World Cup trophy that will be awarded to the winner of the global tournament set to be held in the Gulf state next year.

The cup arrived just days before the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy marked 500 days till the highly anticipated event last Thursday.

Qatar has undertaken many infrastructure and construction projects ahead of the event, such as the building of multiple World Cup stadiums and other projects, including the metro system and the an expansion of the Hamad International Airport.

Authorities have repeatedly said they plan to host a Covid-free World Cup and said one million shots of the vaccine will be provided to international spectators flocking to the country.

Fans will not be allowed to enter stadiums without receiving the full doses of the vaccine.

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