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France Is Banning Alcohol Because of Massive Soccer Riots

Any hopes of a violence-free Euro 2016 have been dashed, rather dramatically, following post-game fights between British and Russian fans on Saturday, which escalated into all-out riots in Marseilles.

by Nick Rose
Jun 13 2016, 10:00pm

Photo via Flickr user matryosha

The combination of sports fans, nationalism, and booze is rarely a harmonious one.

And nowhere on Earth is this volatile mix more pronounced right now than in France, host of the 2016 UEFA European Championship. Any hopes of a violence-free Euro 2016 have been dashed, rather dramatically, following post-game fights between British and Russian fans on Saturday, which escalated into all-out riots in Marseilles.

For now, the chair-throwing, hammer-wielding threat has been neutralized and French authorities are trying to attack what they perceive as the root cause of violence. Outlaw nationalism? No. Ban soccer? Wrong again. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve is instead setting his sights on alcohol, according to the BBC.

READ MORE: My Life as a UK Football Hooligan in the 1980s

"The events which took place in Marseille... are unacceptable. Unacceptable for the authorities, unacceptable for society, unacceptable for football lovers," Cazeneuve told the nation. "I have asked for all necessary measures to be taken to prohibit the sale, consumption, and transport of alcoholic drinks in sensitive areas on match days and the day before, and on days when fan zones are open."

In fact, immediately following the Russia-England match—which spawned widespread violence—Marseille's riot police were dispatched to prevent fans from entering bars and continuing to drink. But now, authorities are deploying preemptive strategies to avoid another soccer warzone. The booze ban is set to include public areas, liquor, and grocery stores, Cazeneuve said, and give local officials the power to ban bars and cafes from serving drinks on their terraces "in containers that can be used as missiles."

But not everyone sees alcohol as the root cause of violence. "The Russians and the locals here who have been attacking football fans have been stone cold sober," said Kevin Miles, member of the Football Supporters' Federation. "They don't drink, they are consciously focused, they train for six months, preparing for acts of hooliganism and violence like this. They're not drunk, that's not what's caused the violence here."

However, French authorities have proven very effective when it comes to banning things, from burqas to foie gras.