Monday, June 21, 2004

He Would Say That, Wouldn't He?

An English football "fan" deported from Portugal for allegedly organizing violence claims that he was nowhere near the riots; the thing is, that's what English football louts always say. Either they claim that they were miles away when the violence occurred, or that they were "provoked" by the "heavy-handed tactics" of the local police, as if there were a conspiracy afoot between the policemen of all foreign lands to seek out drunken English "fans" in particular to harrass.

A England fan handed a two-year jail term for rioting in Portugal has said he is innocent and was victimised.

Garry Mann, claimed he had had "a thoroughly unfair trial" and was subjected to "sleep deprivation and beatings" by police in Albufeira.

He was speaking at the offices of the Fair Trials Abroad group in London.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said he wanted to "nail" Mann, a 46-year-old firefighter from Kent, after he was freed on his return to the UK.

Mann, who will not serve the custodial sentence here because of a legal loophole, is appealing his Portugal conviction with the backing of Fair Trials Abroad.
It ought to be obvious that I don't believe a word Mr. Mann is saying; were the Portuguese not so eager to get rid of him, he'd have been serving an almost certainly thoroughly deserved two-year custodial sentence by now.

Anyway, my concern here isn't so much with Mr. Mann, but with what he illustrates about the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the English character. How can it be with a nation famed for the frosty reserve of its citizens and their punctilious respect for etiquette can at one and the same time be the reservoir from which the football hooligans and the drunken, obnoxious carousers who haunt Ibiza and Faliraki manage to spring forth? Nor is it entirely a matter of class, either, as members of the well-to-do classes are well-represented amongst the ranks of the troublemakers - one football thug recently sentenced to prison turned out to have been a highly-esteemed 38 year old schoolteacher with a wife and children in the suburbs.