England Fans Riot in Luxembourg
During the 1980s the problem of football violence that had increasingly plagued the English game during the 1970s came to its grubby peak.
The nature of the situation had changed over recent years, as had the profile of the so-called fans involved in the attacks. Plainly organised, it was evident from pictures of the violence at the Luxembourg – England game on November 16 1983 that those involved included or even were predominantly men in their 30s and 40s often dressed in notably smart clothing, rather than fitting the stereotypical football hooligan image of teenage skinheads in denim. This was the era of the ‘casuals’.
The 0 – 1 loss to Denmark at Wembley on September 21 that year had imperilled English chances of qualifying for the forthcoming European Championship Finals. Their failure was confirmed by the time the match in Luxembourg kicked off, Denmark having guaranteed themselves first place in their group with a win over Greece earlier that same day. But no amount of frustration could justify the violence before, during and after the game at the Stade Municipal in Stad Lëtzebuerg. Some 50 England fans were arrested, 13 going on to receive prison sentences. At one point the Luxembourg authorities needed to call in help from Germany to control rampaging thugs perhaps 2,000 in number. The affair was a stain on England’s standing in the world; Luxembourg vowed never to host an England game again.
But this was tragically not to prove the nadir of English football’s reputation: that came at the European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus at the Heysel Stadium in 1985.