Euro 2016: bringing People Together for Better and for Worse

All over Europe, fans are gathering to watch football matches and the atmosphere is alternating between really good and really bad

June 13th, 2016
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The European Football Championship, currently taking place in France from June 10th to July 10th, is a time of celebration for football fans all over Europe. Fans have gathered en masse at the so-called  fan zones  to enjoy the matches together. Most of the time, the atmosphere is very relaxed and cheerful but, unfortunately, sometimes events are taking a turn for the worse.

For the most part the  fan zones  are great places to watch the games. People of different genders, generations and nationalities can be observed sharing drinks and food and sporting a great diversity of football jerseys. A reporter from the French newspaper  SoFoot  interviewed older people watching the opening game of Euro 2016 (France vs. Romania) in Paris’ fan zone and met a Polish man living in France for 30 years, a former French boxing champion and an American couple on vacation in the country who were all enjoying the game together in the middle of a crowd of mostly young people and families.

There are not only fan zones in the country hosting the event, but also all over Europe. One example being the fan zone at the famous Brandenburg gate in Berlin, a very cheerful and multicultural place that can host up to half a million people.

Unfortunately, things do not always go so well and Euro 2016 has already been marred by a lot of violent incidents involving fights between rival fans. So far, the worst one occurred late on Saturday June the 11th in Marseille where English and Russian hooligans brawled before a game in which the two countries were to oppose each other. First, hooligans fought violently in the streets of the city causing a lot of property damage. Then, at the end of the game, Russian fans stormed en masse to confront England supporters. As an English supporter lies between life and death, a Russian hooligan admitted to the press that some of them came to France only to show that England’s hooligans’ reputation was overrated.

Sadly, this is not the only incident of this kind. Since the beginning of the competition a few other fights have occurred in various cities and fan violence is now a major concern for the French authorities. The UEFA has threatened to ban England and Russia from the competition if similar behaviour is to happen again. If the violence does not stop, the celebration that Euro 2016 is supposed to be could be seriously threatened.


Cultural Diplomacy News
Pierre Even, CD News