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Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Hague offers help on hooligans
William Hague
William Hague says hooliganism has disgraced Britain
Conservative leader William Hague has pledged his party's support in Parliament if the government introduces new legislation to restrict English football hooligans in the wake of the disturbances at Euro 2000.

He called for known hooligans to be banned from travelling to football matches abroad and for tougher punishments for convicted hooligans.

Mr Hague used a speech to newspaper executives on Thursday to offer Tory support and co-operation to the government in passing new laws to help England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup and stop violent fans wrecking matches in the next few months.

The government is still considering its options after laws passed last year giving magistrates the powers to ban convicted hooligans from travelling to matches abroad failed to prevent England fans causing trouble at Euro 2000.

European example

Mr Hague said it was time the government showed the "political will" to deal with the hooliganism that has made Britain a disgrace in the eyes of the international community.

He told his audience: "Other European countries have shown that tough measures and a clear political will can win the battle against hooligans.

Tony Blair seems to think that the British media should behave like Pravda

William Hague

"I hope the government accepts our sincere offer of co-operation and takes action against the scourge of football violence."

Blair "wants Pravda"

Mr Hague also used the speech in Bradford to criticise recent government attacks on the media.

Capitalising on increasing hostility to Mr Blair in the press, Mr Hague accused the government of expecting the media to behave as its "unquestioning mouthpiece".

"Tony Blair seems to think that the British media should behave like Pravda in the days of the old Soviet Union, happily reporting the monthly tractor production figures while ignoring the collapse of the country," he said.
Fans clash with police in Belgium
England fans were involved in pre-match clashes with police

"He wants to pick up his morning newspaper and read about a fantasy world where the NHS is flourishing, the war on crime is being won, the football hooligans have stayed at home, the Dome is a great success, the [Women's Institute] gave a standing ovation and our Dear Leader is receiving the adulation of his people for meeting his five early election pledges."

Drawing a comparison between Mr Blair's attitude to the media and the recent football violence, he says the government blamed everyone else for its lack of political will to solve the problems Britain faces.

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See also:

20 Jun 00 | Europe
Hooligan row intensifies
21 Jun 00 | Talking Point
Drink and violence: An English problem?
10 Nov 99 | Panorama
Panorama Home
20 Jun 00 | Sportstalk
English thugs threaten Euro 2000 bid
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