UEFA president Michel Platini has warned of a return to the “dark days” of hooliganism unless the authorities across Europe make strides to combat the problem.
Incidents of hooliganism throughout the continent appear to becoming more commonplace and Platini believes that this phenomenon, allied to the rising tide of extremism in many European countries, represents a potent and potentially toxic combination.
The Frenchman says there is a rising trend of “nationalism and extremism” being “observed in our stadiums”.
He advocates the creation of a European sports police force to prevent a repeat of events witnessed in the “not-so-distant past.
“A past where hooligans and all manner of fanatics called the shots in certain European stadiums,” he added.
Platini played for Juventus when crowd trouble before the 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool at Heysel Stadium led to the deaths of 39 people.
More recently, the Greek Cup quarter-final between AEK Athens and Olympiakos was called off after a pitch invasion by fans in the Olympic Stadium.
The Greek Super League was suspended by the government last month after persistent crowd trouble. It wa sthe third time this season the league had been suspended.
Platini says UEFA has been “left to fend for ourselves somewhat” to combat “battles that can only be won with the help of the public authorities”.
Speaking to the UEFA congress, he added: “In recent months, we have all been struck by certain images that I thought were a thing of the past.
“Some of us experienced that past at first hand. In my case, it was exactly 30 years ago.
“Nobody wants a repeat of such events. We need tougher stadium bans at European level and – I will say it again – the creation of a European sports police force.
“This is something I starting calling for back in 2007, just after I was first elected.”
Ukrainian club Dynamo Kiev recently had to close part of their stadium after crowd trouble at the Olympic Stadium in their Europa League game against Guingamp.
Last October, Serbia’s match with Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a political message led to clashes involving players and fans.