by Fanatically Philly… They tried tying their hands behind their backs. They tried gagging their mouths. They tried everything. Nothing worked. They were hoping, perhaps beyond hope, that this time they had the solution. If not, they might just have to get serious.
Violence at soccer matches is nothing new in Europe. In fact, history shows it going back all the way to 13th-century England. Back then, soccer teams consisted of hundreds of players, sometimes whole villages, and were a way to settle old scores. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that soccer became civilized. Someone forgot to tell the fans.
1946: Burnden Park, Manchester, England. Fans unable to get into a soccer match force their way in, starting a stampede that collapses a wall, killing 33 people. 1985: 39 fans killed in rioting at Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium. 1989: 96 killed at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, England.
After the EURO 2016 soccer riots in France, UEFA officials decided to do something about it. While some cited economic woes as the cause, handing out wads of cash was quickly voted down. What they did wind up proposing seemed radical at the time, but would pale in comparison to the final solution.
So it happened in 2020 that UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, in cooperation with local law enforcement, implemented its now infamous “Bind and Gag” rule. You may remember it.
Quite simply, upon entering the stadium fans were gagged, then had their hands bound behind their backs. One event worker at the event described the whole scene as an act of mass prophylactic incarceration. Another described it as a slow, winding down of speech and song. “It was like a flock of birds slowly getting farther and farther away,” said Ingsnod Sveill, ticket taker at the first Bind and Gag match between bitter rivals England and Russia.
“When the gates first opened,” said Sveill, “there was a high volume of people shouting and singing everywhere. As each of those persons came through the turnstile—then was subsequently gagged—the overall volume of the crowd became lower and lower until finally there was complete silence. It was eerie, to say the least.”
Eerie. That’s how most people described the whole scene. Indeed, the entire stadium was muted, as if it had gone in for a moment of silence and never come back out.
Eerie, perhaps; but effective. The match went off without a hitch. Then, the fans filed out. That’s when the trouble began.
It seems tying people’s hands behind their backs and sealing-off their mouths only served to bottle-up their anger. As fans poured out of the stadium, now free and clear, the biggest riot in UEFA tournament history broke out. That was the first and only time the bind and gag rule was implemented.
What followed is known as “The Euro Rule.” It went like this:
All fans planning on attending EURO 2024—this includes everyone, ticket holders and hanger-outers too—will before leaving home schedule an appointment with their physician to have their hands surgically removed.
On top of that, they will submit to surgery to have their tongues cut out. These surgeries will be performed at least three months in advance to their departure to the tournament’s host country, and must be confirmed by a licensed physician. Hands and tongues will be kept on ice to be reattached upon return.
If either ticket holders or free-roaming fans do not comply with said new regulations, they will be subject to having their organs and extremities removed onsite. Such removal is not subject to reattachment.
Believe it or not, the 2024 championships were a smashing success. Violence was virtually non-existent. It was, however, as one reporter put it, “A real horror show. Something right out of Night of the Living Dead.”
Even more surprising, ticket sales for 2028 broke all records. It seems having your hands cut off and your tongue cut out is a minor inconvenience when it comes to professional soccer in Europe.
About the Author
Philip Loyd loves fat chicks and cheap beer, though not necessarily in that order. His first novel, You Lucky Bastard, is represented by New York Literary Agent Jan Kardys. Loyd lives in Dumbass, Texas. Find out more about Loyd at http://PhilipLoyd.com
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