In the lead-up to England's World Cup qualifier against Greece on Wednesday night it has been reported that hundreds of known troublemakers have been warned by the UK authorities against travelling to Athens.
Dr Mike Rowe of the Scarman Centre, University of Leicester, believes there are grounds to doubt that this step will fully prevent hooliganism from occurring.
He commented that there may be serious infringements of civil liberties of those who've placed on the register as a result of becoming caught up in the type of mass arrests carried out as a tactical move by the police in various situations in recent times.
In Belgium, for example, during the recent European Championships, many English fans claimed to have been arrested simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, not for engaging in violent behaviour.
'There are grounds', Dr Rowe argued, 'for concern about how individuals come to be on such lists: who compiles the list, and how open is the process?'.
Even if it were reliable, it still seems unlikely to prevent disorder. 'The experience of France '98 was that many of those arrested were not previously known to the police. This shows that, contrary to popular belief, it is often the case that those who engage in hooliganism are not committed organised thugs, but apparently ordinary supporters who, perhaps due to aggressive nationalism or excessive alcohol, or both, get caught up in violence. Whatever the reason, it is not possible to prevent troublemakers from travelling if you don't know who they are', Dr Rowe concluded.
NOTE TO NEWSDESK:
Dr Rowe can be contacted on 0116 252 5705 (direct line), 0793 1109003 (mobile) or via email@example.com
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