Sunday, December 02, 2007
A Euro 2000 Hooliganism Tale
It has been a while since Vice Squad drew upon Paying the Tab, Phil Cook's alcohol control monograph. On page 151, Phil recounts the story of the Euro 2000 soccer tournament, which was hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands. The Dutch city of Eindhoven elected to combat British soccer hooliganism by reducing the alcohol content of beer sold during the tournament ("Festival Beer") to 2.5 percent, about half or less of the standard beer alcohol content. (Phil doesn't mention it, but Eindhoven also chose to further liberalize the rules surrounding cannabis, hoping to entice visiting soccer tourists out of the bars and into the coffee shops.) At any rate, the low-alcohol gambit seemed to work, as the England supporters were fairly well-behaved in the Netherlands, especially relative to their comportment in Belgium. Less successful was an attempt in Rome this year to ban alcohol sales for 24-hours around an important football match involving Manchester United; a cannabis tolerance in Portugal for Euro 2004 worked out fine, it seems -- the main violence around the tournament emanated not from the host country, but from a Portuguese-owned pub in England.