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Saturday, 10 June, 2000, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Should England-Germany be switched?
The choice of the small, steep-sided Le Mambourg Stadium in Charleroi for the England's showdown with Germany has been widely criticised.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Concerns over safety have led to calls for the game to be switched to a more suitable venue.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has added his voice to those suggesting an alternative to Charleroi should be considered.
The ground is one of the smallest in Euro 2000 and has a capacity of just 30,000.
The seating is said to be dangerously steep, and in light of the Hillsborough tragedy, critics have condemned the stadium's perimeter fencing.
Euro 2000 tournament organisers have given assurances that the Belgian authorities would be in complete control in the event of trouble inside or around the stadium.
But what do you think.
Should the England v Germany game take place in Charleroi?
English fans could fill a 30,000 stadium on their own, without any German fans. When it was announced
I think the amount of media hype will serve as the main instigation of trouble. If nothing had been made of the small ground, then I think it would have crossed a lot fewer minds. That said, I do think better planning would have been more apt.
Obviously the stadium is too small to allow all fans of the England v Germany match to watch the game. However, no battle field is large enough to solve the disputes of those who want to resolve their differences by violence and destruction.
Robert Wilson, UK
This is absolutely one of the top games in this tournament. It should not be held in a crummy, old stadium in Charleroi, but in one of the larger ones, de Kuip in Rotterdam or the stadium in Brussels. Those are also a lot safer and more capable of handling crowds.
This game has a history of causing violence. The venue proposed for Euro 2000 is probably safe in terms of meeting stadium requirements but surely having so many fans within such a small town is a recipe for disaster, especially in light of the fact that both England and Germany 'fans' were instigators of violence during France 98.
I think that everything will be controlled well. They'll probably only let the friendly supporters in to the small stadium and anyway it's only a group stage match and I'm sure that there will be more important games to worry about.
I find it highly distressing that we take it for granted that there will be trouble at this match, if it is such a sure-fire certainty why not play it behind closed doors with all the fans fenced into a field in the countryside with huge screens and left to knock seven bells out of each other. At least no genuine supporters would get caught up in the carnage.
As an Englishman living in Belgium I must say that the general feeling in this neck of the woods is apprehension. Many people over here dread to see what will happen in the lead up to the match as Charleroi is the perfect battle ground. The streets are narrow which will mean that any trouble that may flair up will cause widespread damage. The ground is far too small
Haydn Schofield, Belgium
The problem is not the venue but the image that British fans have - mostly due to their own making. I recently went to see Bremen against Arsenal. There was no trouble but this was due to impeccable organisation. For example, the German Military Police were present in numbers. My big worry is that countries like Belgium are not geared up to control such a game.
It seems to me that the only reason England-Germany is being played at the entirely inappropriate stadium at Charleroi is the fact that the Belgian Authorities, expecting trouble at whatever ground they stage the match at, do not wish to see Brussels, particularly the tourist-related centre, damaged and rioted in the weeks leading up to the peak tourist season. The same can surely be said of Amsterdam. Charleroi is a relatively small, mostly industrial city with little tourist activity. It seems somewhat obvious, from the point of view of the Belgian Authorities, to sacrifice Charleroi and hence avoid the risk of trouble in their national capital and centre of the EU.
England v Germany is going to be one of the biggest games of Euro 2000 and therefore should be held in one of the three 50,000 stadium's not the 30,000 one at Charleroi! This would provide more fans the chance to see the game!
Maybe England should follow Feyenoord of Rotterdam's example. After some (serious) crowd trouble they decided their interests were better served by not taking any supporters to away matches. Britain is an Island. It cannot be too difficult to detain these thugs on it. Furthermore, the organisers should not be afraid to kick any team whose supporters misbehave out the tournament, regardless of their status.
Olivier Dinant, Belgium
I don't expect any extra problems if
this match is going to take place in
Charleroi. I admit the stadium is
small but, with proper ticket
controls held, there should be no
more than 30000 fans
inside the stadium. In that case it's
a small group and therefore easy to
control by the police. It's too bad
some fans can't see the match
from the stadium. But playing in a
small stadium increases the
"survival chances" of the fans inside
rather than decreasing them.
Trouble outside the stadium is not
to blame on Charleroi but on the
fans causing it and those fans only.
They would probably have caused
trouble anyway wherever they were
Mike Wood, Belgium
If hooligans are out for battle it doesn't matter anymore in which stadium the game is going to be played or how well security forces are prepared. If they really want to take down Charleroi then they will. If they really want to take down Brussels, they will take it down just as easily. Sure, security forces will do whatever they can but how do you separate 'supporters' for more the two weeks (or hopefully for England more then three weeks) only coming to make trouble? Let's just hope, after years of bloodshed and material damage, the people responsible for this will understand that this behaviour could very well mean the end of football as we know it today if this tournament turns into catastrophe. It's a shame that England, a country which has such a great football history, is hoped to be knocked out in the group stage by a lot of local people only to see the hooligans get back home. Sad...
Barry Newbury, England
This game should be played in Amsterdam or Brussels. There is no doubt that it is biggest game in Round One. It is stupid that some smaller games are played in bigger stadiums. UEFA is 100% at blame.
Alan Younger, UK
These tournaments are all about colourful masses celebrating the game of billions together as one. The Brazilians expect to win but don't riot when they don't. The Scots are the same (except they don't expect to win, but celebrate anyway). It's about time UEFA were in a position whereby they didn't have to worry about street riots. A game of football is a game of football no matter where it is played. I personally think the game will have a wonderful atmosphere in such a small ground. The rest is up to the Neanderthals and how they react to the game. Let's face it there is going to be riots between these countries - the media have guaranteed it. When it happens, ban the teams for 12 years and take passports off the hooligans for the same period. We will not stand for this nonsense.
Kirk, Northern Ireland
In Belgium, everything is a matter of political balance between the North (Flemish-speaking) and the South (French-speaking) parts of the country. Since Liège and Charleroi have the only two large stadiums in the French-speaking region and since playing the match elsewhere would mean playing it in the Flemish region, that would break the political balance. Furthermore, the Head of the French-speaking region is the former mayor of Charleroi...
It is a totally ridiculous situation. The two countries with the largest number of supporters, not known for their impeccable behaviour, playing in a ground that is dwarfed by dozens of Premier and First Division grounds. I am sure that the people responsible for organising the competition will be nowhere to be seen when it all goes wrong.
If there is trouble at the game and it seems inevitable that there will be, I wonder how many high ranking officials will be asked to resign, or how many supermarket owners will be blamed for selling alcohol. The size and shape of the stadium should be of no consequence .If British soccer fans cannot control themselves, if they cannot go to another country without insulting its population and rampaging through its cities then I think that the only option left open for the British government is to impose a blanket ban on all English supporters to home and away games until the violence stops. I love soccer, but I have grown tired of the excuses.
The stadium is too small; they are all going to be fenced in like caged animals. There will be trouble outside between the Turks and the German and English Fans. It¿s totally irresponsible of UEFA and they deserved to be sued out of existence if another Hillsborough occurs.
Something must certainly be done before it is too late. This is one of the biggest games in Euro 2000. This game must therefore be switched to a more suitable and bigger place. Imagine thirty thousand fans agitating for a win inside the stadium and another thirty thousand or so outside screaming at not been allowed inside. When the two groups meet after the game the security will be so overwhelmed by these numbers that they will never know what happened until it is time to count causalities and theorise on what exactly might have happened, and then of course blame the hooligans. The Police and security must realise that with a steep stadium you can never be 100% prepared for all eventualities, never. Even if the aim was to discredit the 2006 bids, we wont just condemn blindly, we will scrutinise the security's choices, preparedness and reactions to a disaster deliberately created.
There is no way England should play Germany in Charleroi for many reasons. Firstly the steepness of the stands. Secondly you can tell just by looking at the fencing around the pitch that another Hillsborough disaster is inevitable. Also the capacity is nowhere near enough to watch a match of it's size at just 30,000. Lastly I know that Charleroi has a huge Turkish population. And after Istanbul and Copenhagen you don't need three guesses what could happen.
Neither the stadium nor the city is the problem. The fans are - so tackle them. The stadium security has been approved by FIFA so that should be no discussion. And if the fans are causing trouble, the national associations should be responsible for that; it is a shame they will not.
Why systematically make the authorities, police or stadium facilities responsible when the sole responsibility for crowd trouble rests with the crowd itself. It is ridiculous and disgusting to blame Belgium and Holland (in this case) because there are criminals in other countries. Why is so little done to prevent known criminals from going on the rampage abroad?
It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy if the game ends in trouble. So many games have already been played in that stadium and there hasn't been any problems so far. I don't see any reason for it to be different this time if people fans could bring themselves to behave like proper football fans.
I was at Hillsborough and saw what happened. The steepness of the stands, with only a 30,000 capacity for a game of such historic magnitude frightens me. Move the game - safety costs nothing!
The stadium in Charleroi is clearly unsuitable for a game of this magnitude. It is one of the outstanding fixtures in the group stages and should ideally be played in Amsterdam or Rotterdam where there is capacity for 52,000 and the facilities are far safer. Charleroi would not pass the safety standards in England and in the event of a rush or crowd trouble, the potential for disaster exists clearly.
Football is, at the end of the day, only a sport. If any game cannot be played in a football stadium, then surely the time has come to re-examine the whole sport. Is it worth putting lives in danger for a game?
This game is going to be a ripper! It's a shame it should take place in such a small stadium - the hooligans will probably not care about the stadium ... or the town or even the country they are in. One can just hope that the police and their strategies will show some effect. I look forward to watching the match from a safe distance - from a pub in Germany!
The streets behind the stadium are only wide enough for two people to fit down. In the event of any trouble, fans will be trapped.
The fact is there will be trouble wherever this match is held. Sooner or later no country anywhere is going to want to stage an international championship with England in it. And can you blame them?
Robert Roberts, England
Cynics might say that this an elaborate plot to goad the English and Germans in to rioting in such a cramped space, thus knocking both World Cup bids on the head!
It is too late to switch the match. I cannot see any reason why the match should not start at midday as did the match between Manchester United and Leeds United for example. It would also help if all the bars were shut and the supermarkets were not permitted to sell alcohol on the day of the match.
Mike Roberts, UK
To talk about safe and unsafe venues only builds tension and unease between fans. If the safety officials are content then the less talk the better. But 30,000 seats available for an England v Germany fixture is never enough. Consequently, thousands of unhappy fans will contribute to unrest.
It's hyped as one of the biggest games yet it's going to be played in a less than good stadium. This didn't happen at Euro '96.
Ryan Ward, England
If there are such problems with (some) fans of either country just lock out both teams from the championship. The national associations should be held legally and financially responsible for all occurrences by their team's fans.
The Belgian authorities should know better after the Heysel tragedy. They are downright irresponsible and UEFA should have intervened and changed the venue. Let's hope that things will turn out better than we are anticipating.
Shirley Bennett, USA
I think the stadium is too small for such a very big event and given the publicity surrounding this particular case we should think very seriously about the issues of the safety of the fans of both sides.
Will it make any difference? The most likely source of trouble is our thuggish English support. These people have shown themselves to be capable of drunken idiocy whatever the venue.
Carole Orpe, USA
The recent debate about the suitability of the stadium for the England v Germany game is being diffused by the claim that the stadium must be alright as it has been granted a licence by the relevant authorities. I don't trust the 'relevant authorities' as these are probably motivated by the same desires and pressures that led to the crumbling edifice that was Heysel - claims that everything was organised and the stadium was safe. It's a cast iron certainty that trouble is going to take place at this game and don't be surprised that the relevant authorities are suddenly not accountable, with the 'blame' being heaped on the hooligans.
Daniel Williams, Scotland
I think the Germany v. England game should be switched from Charleroi but I also think that it is important for the British TV and radio commentators to treat the game between the two countries as a football game, not as a battle. I worry about British football commentators. They are so jingoistic. When you listen to football matches on the channels of other European countries, including Germany, the commentators are much more laid back and objective than our commentators. They are not still fighting in the trenches.
A match of this stature and importance should be played in a stadium enabling the maximum number of supporters to see it in safety. I think the new stadium in Brussels is more appropriate.
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