Michel Platini fears a return to hooliganism’s “dark days” as he was re-elected unopposed for a third term as president of UEFA.
Platini was a player with Italian side Juventus when crowd trouble prior to the 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool at Heysel Stadium led to the deaths of 39 people.
A much recent incident occurred in Match 11 during the Greek Cup quarter-final between AEK Athens and Olympiakos when the game was called after a pitch invasion by fans in the Olympic Stadium.
The Frenchman says there is a rising trend of “nationalism and extremism” being observed in stadiums.
“Europe is seeing a rise in nationalism and extremism the like of which we have not witnessed for a very long time,” he told UEFA’s annual congress in Vienna.
“This insidious trend can also be observed in our stadiums, as football is a reflection of society. Given its popularity, our sport is a barometer for the ills of our continent. And that barometer is pointing to some worrying developments.”
The 59-year-old former France international reiterated calls for a European sports police force to avoid events witnessed in the “not-so-distant past”.
“A past where hooligans and all manner of fanatics called the shots in certain European stadiums,” he said.
According to Platini, UEFA has been “left to fend for ourselves somewhat” to combat “battles that can only be won with the help of the public authorities”.
“In recent months, we have all been struck by certain images that I thought were a thing of the past. Some of us experienced that past at first hand. In my case, it was exactly 30 years ago.
“Nobody wants a repeat of such events. We need tougher stadium bans at European level and – I will say it again – the creation of a European sports police force.
“This is something I starting calling for back in 2007, just after I was first elected.”