David Beckham, Ronaldinho and Steven Gerrard are lined up to play for the European Union in this Tuesday’s charity match in Manchester. This is to mark the 50th anniversary of the EU’s founding Treaty of Rome. Officially launching the commemorative match between the EU selection and Manchester United is French football hero and now UEFA president Michel Platini.
On the day before the match, he was in Brussels with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, lobbying for EU help to fight hooliganism and racism connected with football. Last week, Platini called for the creation of an international police force to deal specifically with sports-related violence.
The idea would be that such a body could help to tackle hooliganism, corruption and betting scandals, and reinforce attempts to ban known offenders from stadiums. Platini said: “We are asking all the governments to assume their responsibilities in relation to this violence. It’s violence which most of the time happens outside the stadiums. We would take on our responsibilites if we can find the means.”
In the last month, the French, German, Spanish and Serbian authorities have had trouble. Barroso was sympathetic, but not more: “We understand perfectly well the good intention of President Platini trying to see in which way we can have a better coordination, a better cooperation of the national police, but it is not in the European Commission competences to act in that direction.”
Officials confirmed that Platini would also meet EU justice chief Franco Frattini in the coming weeks to discuss hooliganism. Barroso placed the emphasis on the EU’s 27 governments.