Football fans need a PR agency

The Football Association needs a PR campaign to show that hooliganism is no longer a big problem in England.

The reason for my post is that this story of the Italian FA telling Capello that “Hooligan is an English word” annoyed me today.

England has an issue with its reputation abroad, one that is no longer based on fact, but rather folklore.

With such strong, negative and ingrained perceptions of British fans there is a clear task for the Public Relations Industry. This is because unbalanced reporting leads to disproportionate levels of coverage, that then informs international football fans and organisations worldwide. It becomes a vicious circle.

The facts need communicating:

– England is the safest place to watch football (there is lots of evidence to back this claim up)
– France, Italy and Spain is a far more dangerous place to watch football
– France has ancient stadia with hooligans aplenty, as does Italy
– Spain has the added joy of racism to throw into the mix, click here

OK, here is my caveat, this season there has been more trouble than usual in the UK, e.g. Man Utd v Barnsley, West Ham vs Millwall, and England can’t take its eye off the ball, but look at this more severe example which happened this week in France at a match between Marseille and Paris SG. In my view it was under-reported, see here:

Events such as what happened in Marseille are a regular occurrence in France, but just aren’t reported worldwide, compared to when we Brits get involved. This lack of balance needs addressing. I just want to see us all up to necks in the same problem without other countries missing out on the criticism.

35 Italians died in a horrific incident involving Liverpool FC hooligans, yet during the war millions of human beings died. However we can forgive the nations involved in those war-crimes, so why not the same with sport?

Could the Football Association create a crisis management strategy which kicks into action every time there is trouble in the UK or the rest of Europe? Maybe it already has a crisis PR team but clearly more needs investing in improving our reputation. When trouble is severe then the FA will rightfully hold its hands up! However robust efforts must be made to put hooliganism into perspective when compared to what happens in mainland Europe. OK, we need to stamp the problem out here, but reporting of events in Spain, England, and Italy must be proportional on a global level.

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