Another Premier League weekend scarred by racist abuse, and the coin attack that left Rio Ferdinand dripping in blood at the Manchester derby, has English authorities fearing a return to the spite-filled climate when the country was a footballing outcast.
Despite English football fans being praised last month by FIFA President Sepp Blatter as positive examples for the world, unrest at globally televised Premier League matches looks to be mounting to revive memories of the hostilities in the 1970s and 80s.
“To see Rio Ferdinand with blood on his face is absolutely terrible,” English Football Association chairman David Bernstein said Monday. “I think it’s disturbing that we’re seeing a recurrence of these types of incidents.
“We’ve had racial abuse issues, the odd pitch incursion, things being thrown at players. It’s very unacceptable and has to be dealt with severely.”
Prosecutors acted swiftly Monday to charge nine men in connection with disorder at the previous day’s top-of-the table derby in which Manchester United won 3-2 at Manchester City.