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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
Hammam calls for anti-thug summit
Cardiff City chairman Sam Hammam
The Cardiff City chairman is a controversial figure
Cardiff City chairman Sam Hammam has called for an emergency summit meeting with the police, council leaders, and the Football Association of Wales, in a bid to beat hooliganism.

Following criticism of the club's hooligan problem in a BBC documentary, Mr Hammam called a news conference, where he pledged to drive the violent hard-core out of the game.

All media were invited - but TV crews were banned from entering.


Anything that Cardiff City Football Club can do to help has got to be for the benefit of everybody

Chief Inspector Graham McCarthy, South Wales Police

He went on record as saying that he would drive the hooligans out of the game, but it needed a multi-agency approach involving South Wales Police, Cardiff City Council, and the football authorities.

Chief Inspector Graham McCarthy gave a cautious welcome to the news.

"I don't know if it's going to solve the problem," he said.

"But we have to show people that we are working together, that we are not condoning football violence or hooliganism in any way.

Chief Inspector Graham McCarthy
"No" to violence : Chief Inspector Graham McCarthy

"Anything that Cardiff City Football Club can do to help us do that has got to be for the benefit of everybody."

Earlier in the day Mr Hammam had accused the makers of the BBC Two series Hooligans of bias - after the programme questioned his commitment to tackling the club's problems

The programme, broadcast on Sunday night, showed him celebrating Cardiff's promotion in 2001 in the company of known troublemakers from the notorious Soul Crew gang.

The Lebanese businessman defended his relationship with hooligans, saying his techniques have "worked".


We in Cardiff City are doing far more than any other clubs in the land

Cardiff City Chairman Sam Hammam

Hammam also complained that the Hooligans programme was "biased" after showing excerpts from a meeting between him and fans.

"Their comment was that I am making fun of hooliganism, recognising and socialising with them.

"The camera clearly filmed the whole meeting.

"What transpired from that meeting - on my instigation - (was that) the fans formed a fans charter to beat hooliganism."

"Saints"

Hammam said he felt it was necessary to get to know hooligans in order to reform them.

"If you want to beat the hooligans, you don't go and meet the saints," he said.

"All I can do is, by showing them they are human beings and giving them a sense of feeling wanted, it might help."

"We are a civilised nation and we have to treat people in a civilised way."

Premiership dream

Hammam stressed that the hooligans were threatening the future of the club.

"It is imperative that everyone understands and agrees the biggest enemy to the dream of Cardiff City becoming a top-notch club are these hooligans.

"How can a family come to watch the game? How can we get people to invest in the club?

"We in Cardiff City are doing far more than any other clubs in the land and we are dealing with it as best we can."

Hammam also said the fact that 112 Cardiff fans had been banned from travelling abroad for the World Cup was a success and not a failure.

The BBC2 programme - Kicking Off - described how the former owner of Wimbledon FC was treated as a messiah when he bought Cardiff City in the summer of 2000.

Triumphs and trouble

The club was languishing in the Third Division but, two seasons later, have only narrowly missed promotion to the First.

At the end of Hammam's first season at the club, the Bluebirds were promoted to the Second Division.

The programme showed how known hooligans were among the selected fans treated by the chairman to a coach trip and champagne reception at a hotel outside Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

Cardiff's hooligan problem came to a head in January when the club's shock FA Cup victory against Leeds United at Ninian Park was marred by violence.

Among the troublemakers was former Bluebirds player Dai Thomas, who was jailed for 60 days.

Misconduct

The disturbances prompted Hammam to launch what he called a "war on hooliganism".

But further trouble followed an end-of-season play-off against Stoke City and the FAW Premier Cup Final with Swansea City.

On Thursday, Cardiff was fined 20,000 by the Football Association of Wales for misconduct over the trouble at the Leeds game.

The next day it was revealed that Cardiff were top of the list of clubs whose followers were among more than 1,000 suspected hooligans banned from travelling abroad during the World Cup.

You can also post your views in our Talking Point on the story.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Penny Roberts
"He says he'll drive the hooligans out of the game, but insists you've got to meet them to beat them"
Sam Hammam on Radio Wales
"It is imperative that everyone understands the biggest enemy to Cardiff are these hooligans"
Sam Hammam on Radio Wales
"We recognise the problem and are dealing with it to the best of our abilities"
Sam Hammam on Radio Wales
"I want Swansea fans to be proud of what we are trying to do for Wales"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Crowd trouble
Can football hooligans be tamed?

In a three part undercover investigation shown on BBC Two, the BBC travels from Bermondsey to Buenos Aires to find the true face of football hooliganism today.
The BBC investigates

See also:

19 May 02 | Talking Point
17 May 02 | Hooligans
10 May 02 | Hooligans
02 May 02 | Hooligans
18 May 02 | Wales
17 May 02 | Cardiff City
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