Sport is best enjoyed when watching a game live with a few friends and a few thousand strangers, all united with the one common purpose of supporting your team. This atmosphere is what makes grown up men hug random fellow-fans, kids to scream themselves hoarse and weep in joy or sorrow, and women to get their faces painted with team/player names and colours.
This is what makes sport special, this atmosphere is what TV producers crave for — because the buzz in the stadium is magically transformed onto the millions watching on TV, and makes for a true sporting spectacle.
And this is what a few Russian and English hooligans are out to ruin in France. After some Russian fans charged the England fans in Marseille this week, Russia has been threatened with suspension from Euro 2016, which is massive not only because it would be unprecedented, but also because of Russia’s clout and the fact they are the hosts of World Cup 2018.
England fans have not covered themselves in glory either. Their behavior leading up to this game has been deplorable, and the sad part is none of this came as a surprise.
What such incidents do is turn people off from going to stadiums. Women and children especially will feel unsafe, and what should have been a great day out becomes an ordeal not worth going through.
Especially in this day and age when TV coverage is superb with 4D and multiple camera angles and replays, why go to a stadium and risk getting beat up when you can hang out on your couch with some beers and your friends?
UEFA may not feel it right now because marquee events still manage to attract fans to the stadiums, but if this epidemic is not stamped out, this could lead to dwindling stadium attendances, and sport as we know it would change for ever.