The Euro2004 European Football Championships are now well underway, with the first set of games completed last night, and the usual fears of violence among national team supporters that accompany such tournaments so far proving unfounded. Yes, there recently was some sort of confrontations with the police by English fans in Albufeira, as well as a German attack on rival fans in Porto, but the Guardian reports that Portuguese officials are playing down the seriousness of such incidents. (The British Home Office supplied here a useful explanatory phrase: “typical of the alcohol-fueled disorder common in Mediterranean resorts rather than orchestrated football hooliganism.”) Such assessments could well mean that the incidents were truly not serious – or they could ironically mean in the case of the English fans that authorities are desperately trying to ensure that the bluff of the European football association (UEFA) is not called, to the effect that the British football team would be expelled from the entire tournament if British fans misbehaved.
But let’s take the optimistic view that the confrontations in the fields outside the respective Portuguese sports stadiums are going along fairly peacefully. This could very well be thanks to a new policy wrinkle taken up by the Portuguese police, and reported in the German weekly Die Zeit (Learn from Holland): a green light for smoking dope. (more…)