Matt Williams: Powerful managers alone will not save football from rampant thuggery

Violent ‘fans’ must be treated as the criminals they are

England football fans gathered outside Wembley stadium before the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

England football fans gathered outside Wembley stadium before the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

In French workplaces, including rugby teams, at the beginning of each day co-workers greet each other with “une bise” – a kiss – on both cheeks. New non-French arrivals are provided with a period of what HR departments would describe as “cultural sensitivity training”, and they get a handshake. However, that is only a reprieve. Once both parties become comfortable with each other, every day starts with you and your colleague touching cheeks. In rugby teams that means getting 40 whiskery, prickling pecks from all your players and staff every morning. Yuck!

When I first experienced “une bise” it made me uncomfortable, but over time I began to realise how that greeting enhanced our organisation’s culture. In France at the beginning of each working day, the actions of your teammates show that you are important, respected and accepted. Organisational culture is simply “the way we do things around here” and in France, the “bise” is part of that.

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