The proper penalty

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The Independent Online

So the hoolies are at it yet again. The match between England and Germany was always the most likely flashpoint for the ugly side of English nationalism to rear its head. Friday night saw 374 arrests, followed yesterday by street battles and water cannon. Wry jokes from the football journalists, ritual handwringing from the Government and the Football Supporters' Association about the "few rotten apples ruining it for the vast majority of well-behaved fans" - and on to the next game, no doubt. Meanwhile "the vast majority of well-behaved fans" tut-tut and turn a blind eye to the thugs in their midst. Lives, businesses and national reputations are ruined.

So the hoolies are at it yet again. The match between England and Germany was always the most likely flashpoint for the ugly side of English nationalism to rear its head. Friday night saw 374 arrests, followed yesterday by street battles and water cannon. Wry jokes from the football journalists, ritual handwringing from the Government and the Football Supporters' Association about the "few rotten apples ruining it for the vast majority of well-behaved fans" - and on to the next game, no doubt. Meanwhile "the vast majority of well-behaved fans" tut-tut and turn a blind eye to the thugs in their midst. Lives, businesses and national reputations are ruined.

Well, it's not good enough. If specialist police units and passport seizures aren't capable of bringing these thugs to heel, then the only honourable solution will be for England to withdraw from international football. Bill Shankly got it wrong: football is less important than life and death.

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