England fans are known across the globe as the number one hooligans who are capable of disrupting the peace in any football venue and destroying assets in cities where England or English teams are playing.
Qatar will be no exception it seems but the UK is deploying police officers in the sheikhdom for the World Cup.
They will act as “cultural interpreters” between fans and local law enforcement, says the latest reports on the UK’s approach to the World Cup.
But the British police will not be there to tell the fans how to behave, says an official.
Considering that English hooligans vandalized everything on their way as they walked in big crowds towards Wembley stadium as they were ticketless for the Euro 2020 final, we can assume they will not be in such large numbers in Qatar to vent their anger over pricey tickets and hotel stays.
But for those who will be in Qatar, it is probably the restrictions and the tough Qatari police force that may dampen the acts of hooliganism during the World Cup.
What worries the UK police in Qatar is that fans may inadvertently cause offence, thus the presence of the officers on the ground is to caution against “unfortunate misunderstandings” that could stem from fans drinking alcohol, taking shirts off, waving flags, gathering in large numbers and other stereotypes that come with football fan culture.
When England was bidding for the World Cup 2018, some countries rushed to campaign against the risks of hooliganism that could disrupt the organisation of the competition in the UK.
They showcased the animosity of the hooligans towards a certain race and country and the fear that they could target the tourists and fans of other national formations, creating chaos and endangering lives.
The campaign bit deep into England’s chances to win the bid to host the World Cup. It was frustrations all over the UK but the ‘enemies’ of hooliganism won.
This time around the UK seems prepared to face the English fans on the ground in Qatar to prevent any shameful incidents from occurring.
The UK police delegation includes a team of 15 engagement officers, who will act as a “buffer” between supporters and Qatari law enforcement, says a UK paper.
“We’re really keen that the British officers who go are a buffer and cultural interpreter so that we can have the first conversation with our fans before anyone else is deployed,” the official says.
“Their primary focus is to liaise with the supporters and the police forces just to say ‘look we’re not saying you’re wrong, but it’s causing offence so you might want to moderate your behaviour before anyone else has to intervene.”
The good news perhaps for Qatar, is that the England fans are around 3,000 to 4,000 England fans and they are expected to travel to Qatar for the group stages, with numbers set to increase should Gareth Southgate’s side reach the knockout stages.
An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Wales fans are also expected to fly out to the tournament, which concludes on 18 December.
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