I detest the term 'high risk match', a qualification that the anti-violence commission splashes with its admonitory hyssop every so often. What is high risk, anyway? Have they ever stopped to think about it? Is going to a football match really as 'high risk' as these people often make out? The most recent, of course, was Sunday’s Clásico, for which 86,422 cape-less heroes turned up, braving such high risk, and in many cases with a child in tow. And paying for it too. They returned home as they had arrived, all without a scratch, as far as we know. And this was not accompanied by the usual protocol of separating the two sets of fans.
El Clásico’s mixed zone
This season Barça have 27,000 season ticket holders absent, as a result of the pandemic. Those 27,000 seats went on sale and a large part of them were snapped up by Madrid supporters. It was a known factor because the Camp Nou is generally full of season ticket holders, except for a small courtesy area reserved for visiting fans. This large contingent of Madrid fans was not concentrated in a separate area away from the remaining Culé season ticket holders, but rather the two groups of supporters were intermingled. In many cases, the tickets on sale were bought by groups of fans wearing their own team colours.
The 'high-risk' tag only served to create a bottle neck at the entrance. Shortly before kick-off there were still around 10,000 impatient fans queuing outside the gates. In cases like this in England, the match is delayed by 15 minutes or so. Here, however, they preferred to open up the turnstiles and let the flood rush through. The emphatic proclamation of 'high risk' was not accompanied by appropriate measures in case a specific danger was foreseen. What seemed clear was that there was no risk. In fact, the real risk was faced by Koeman, whose car was attacked in the street by his supporters, right after the match. But street vandalism in Barcelona is another matter. We had already seen the protest of local police, ‘Mossos’ on Saturday...