Right of Reply: The former England footballer argues against recalling the English team from the World Cup
Wednesday 17 June 1998
If we continue to witness violence on the scale that was perpetrated in Marseilles, then I do believe that Fifa will send us home, but I would still argue it would not be a wise decision.
Send the troublemakers home by all means, but leave the football team there.
It could be that banning the team would only cause more problems; some would seize upon it as a genuine excuse for fighting and causing mayhem.
It's a very depressing situation and something needs to be done, but don't ask me what. It's difficult because these people only show themselves every now and again; they turn up only at the big events.
I was privileged to be in charge of the Republic of Ireland team who were followed around the world by thousands of fanatical, boisterous supporters. These fans were always impeccably behaved. If somebody stepped out of line, or was a little worse for wear, it was normal for his mates to get him out of the way until he had sobered up. They had a way of controlling themselves.
To the English fans in France who get caught up in the trouble, I would say give the yobs a wide berth. It doesn't take much intelligence to identify them and get out of their way. Leave them to the French police to sort out. Better that than to have the whole team sent home.
That would only be playing into the hooligans' hands.
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