Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Paper confusion

I am always indebted to readers of this blog when they respond, particularly when I may have misrepresented the facts. On this occasion it has been pointed out by "O'Neill" from Belfast that he believes my comments in regards to the behaviour of the Northern Irish fans was to say the least inaccurate.

He has pointed out that according to the local English newspaper in Riga, the Baltic Times,
"Earlier in the day, the Northern Ireland fans had turned the center of Riga green, setting up camp in the Old Town and downing prodigious quantities of beer while singing their songs, prior to their team’s Euro 2008 qualifying match against Latvia. A few minor scuffles broke out but early reports of “rioting” fans from the night before were greatly exaggerated.

Five people were arrested on Friday night – including one Latvian – and a police car was damaged. Fears that trouble might escalate after the Northern Ireland team suffered a surprise 1:0 defeat to a Latvian team playing for nothing but pride proved groundless.
Police spokeswoman Ieva Reksna told the Baltic News Service that the fans there was no disorder in the city on Saturday night.
Three drunk fans were taken to a ‘sobering house’ and another was detained for his own safety as he was incapable of giving police his details and no information could be found about him."
He then went on to say

"From what I've heard from people, who, unlike you, actually attended the game (the *riot* occurred the night before the game for your information) this report is closer to truth. Also not very impressed with Latvian "law enforcement" methods (one middle-aged female friend was battered round the legs for the heinous crime of walking on the road and numerous accounts of cops lifting credit-cards, mobile phones etc), but what would they know? They're only maniacal Northern Irish football hooligans. So can I suggest you check your facts next time old chap before indulging in the old stereotyping?


So what is the truth of it ? - Well as he so rightly says I was not at the game, nor was I in Livi Square on either Friday or Saturday night. However one fact I did get wrong was in regards to the actual night of "incident" - it was indeed Friday night - no Saturday as I had indicated. So clearly the trouble was due to alcohol and not the result of the game on the Saturday

So if I have done a disservice to the Northern Ireland football fans, then I apologise, but I fear that the reputation of the visiting fans was indeed tarnished, whether it was due to the actions of a few or the "reported " 500.
However to "O'Neill", thanks for taking the time to read the blog, even if you so clearly disagree with my opinion of the behaviour of the visiting Brits, be they English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish.
For those interested in reading further the thoughts of "O'Neill" then visit his blog at http://www.unionistlite.blogspot.com/
It just goes to show that what appears in print may or may not factual be reality


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well as they say we do live in interesting times!What ever the absolute truth is there can be no doubt that there was an incident of some magnitude but I would tend to empathise with the comments about the absurdity of certain Latvian laws and also the lack of any sympathy in approach by the Latvian Police, however, there can be no excuse for any violence whether it be at the hands of "supporters" locals or the local constabulary.

The real reason I write is to contrast the apparent events in Riga on Friday with those in Nantes on the weekend when the city was invaded by a mixture of rugby supporters from literally all over the world reputedly over 40,000 descended on the city over the one weekend.Yes I did witness several "supporters" behaving a little stupidly but the general behaviour of the invaders and the reception given them by the people of Nantes was exceptional, added to this was mature and sympathetic policing and it made for a magical weekend for everyone.

Undoubtedly it"takes two to tango" but wouldn't it be great if the trouble did't start at all and if it did that the response from the authorities was measured and mature.

No one is without blame just be grateful that it is the police of 2007 involved not 1977!

6:04 pm  
Blogger O'Neill said...

Thanks for the correction.

Quite clearly there were incidents and quite clearly there are a minority people who shouldn't be let out of their back door never mind the country.

It's just the stereotyping exaggeration that I objected to and btw this is not all way, the latvian tourist industry has been taking a battering in the local press over these incidents.

The award you mentioned was not given for "Being the Best Fans in Europe", it was for work done by the various supporters' associations in trying to remove racism and sectarianism from our fanbase. Riga unfortunately has seen the latter raise its ugly head again on the part of an obnoxious minority, quite clearly we've still a bit of work to do.

Thanks (and sorry if my original post came over a bit strong, hope I've explained myself better here).

9:25 pm  
Blogger O'Neill said...

My last comment on the subject (honest!).
Here is the Tripadvisor website with a sample of the various complaints.

The lady's advice re a negative publicity campaign against the Latvian tourist industry has been initiated. It will be interesting to see the results, I really don't think we've heard the end of this yet.

7:47 pm  

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