The forthcoming Euro 2008 Championship is expected to become a disaster for hosting countries, Austria and Switzerland. The Austrians are particularly concerned about football fans and possible riots which they can organize.
Austria’s largest insurance companies launched new services to the local population: soccer vandalism insurance for the period of the European Championship. Damages caused to buildings, gardens, hotel and shop equipment will be considered as insurance events.
Both natural persons and legal entities will be able to effect the insurance policy for the period of the Championship from June 1 to June 7.
Euro 2008 matches will take place in Austria and Switzerland, although Swiss insurance companies do not offer similar services. This is probably because of the fact that the riskiest matches of the tournament will take place in Austria.
Notorious English football fans, known for their passion for pogroms, will not come to Austria and Switzerland. England did not even qualify for the Championship, having made way to Russia . Football fans from Germany, Poland and Russia may pose the most serious threat to Austria as long as English fans stay home this time.
The game between Germany and Poland on June 8 can become the “match of death.” Football fans of these two countries arranged massive riots during the Championship in Germany in 2006. Apparently, they hate each other so much that even the police can not stop them from fighting.
A crowd of Russian fans will be arriving in Austria in June too. Spokespeople for Russian travel agencies say that the demand on Euro-2008 tours reaches record-high levels. However, Russian football fans do not harbor any special hostilities to anyone.
Russia will play Sweden on June 18. Hot-blooded Swedish fans can be very emotional, just as much as their Russian “friends.”
Football hooliganism can be traced down to the Middle Ages in England. In modern-day world clashes between football supporters may often end with fatal outcomes.
In 1968, over 70 people died when crowds attending a football match in Buenos Aires stampeded after youths threw burning paper on to the terraces. A 2002 investigation into football hooliganism in Argentina stated that football violence had become a national crisis, with about 40 people murdered at football matches in the preceding ten years. In the 2002 season, there had been five deaths and dozens of knife and shotgun casualties.
English hooligans have become more advanced in the way they plan their fights, often using Internet forums, mobile phones and text messages. These hooligans often post messages on other hooligan websites to provoke rival gangs into meeting up for fights. Sometimes people at the fights post live commentaries on the Internet.
The first recorded instances of football hooliganism in the modern game took place in the 1880s in England, a period when gangs of supporters would intimidate neighborhoods, as well as attack referees and opposing supporters and players. In 1885, after Preston North End beat Aston Villa 5-0 in a friendly match, the two teams were pelted with stones; attacked with sticks, punched, kicked and spat at. One Preston player was beaten so severely that he lost consciousness. Press reports of the time described the fans as "howling roughs." The following year, Preston fans fought Queen's Park fans in a railway station; the first recorded instance of football hooliganism away from a match. In 1905, several Preston fans were tried for hooliganism, including a "drunk and disorderly" 70 year old woman, following their match against Blackburn Rovers.