Getting in from London on Saturday night I had just enough time to watch the end of the England Russia football match. England was winning at this point and looked like they were going to take the game until Russia scored to tie it with a few minutes left in stoppage time. It was a heart breaking result for the English side.
The result of the game was nothing the match and the lead up to it was marred by violence instigated by the Russians in the stands. This kind of hooliganism is not unheard of in football. Many countries have problems with youth organized as supporters for their clubs fighting it out with others. England used to have the same problem years ago. There was a concerted effort to eliminate that kind of behavior from football in order to make it more family friendly.
The Russia England game was not the only fixture to have such problems. The other fixtures on Sunday also had reports in the news of people fighting in support of their respective countries. Some of these groups are described as “ultra nationalist” the support of their country is paramount. They see their behavior as promoting their country’s strength. Both England and Russia has been warned that they risk being expelled from the tournament if this type of behavior continues.
This weekend also had news of another tragedy that unfolded in Orlando. By now many people know of the mass shooting at a gay club by a man purporting to be a supporter of extremist views. He was an American citizen born in New York. The FBI interviewed him a couple of times but found no substantive evidence that he was a threat. He was still allowed to buy weapons and force his way into the club killing and injuring scores of people.
Is this the new reality that we have to live in? France has had its own problems recently and compounding the problem are the great deal of labour strikes that have slowed the country down. In the US there is a heated election race where the good has been subsumed under vitriolic rhetoric. Here too this kind of rhetoric has been in the news as Britain contemplates their membership in the EU.
There is a huge divide between those that wish to remain and those that wish to exit the union. What is at stake here? There are a number of economic agreements made between all of the countries that form this union. Here in Britain these agreements are seen as unfair and restrictive to the interests of Britain. Britain would like to negotiate better terms for itself. It would like to restrict the amount of migrants that enter its borders both from the EU and elsewhere. There is an argument that it would have better control over its future. The benefits it derives from access to the European markets is minimized as is the benefit of the free movement of people and goods. Times are tough in Europe. The economic malaise that has engulfed this part of the world some eight years ago still haven’t been shaken off. Add to that the problem of refugees streaming from battle torn regions in Northern Africa and the Middle East one can see the where the frothing is coming from in the simmering cauldron of this region.
I’ve been busy taking care of my own needs. The news has been a bit depressing when such events occur. It certainly doesn’t have the uplifting crescendo of inspiring speeches given by dignitaries. The brexit vote is about ten days away. In the run up to the vote the pound has taken a beating as money had been pulled out of the country. Why would people want to invest here is they can’t access Europe? Why would Britain get a better deal? How can those people think that? Deals are two way streets and if one wants access to Chinese or American markets they need access to Britain and those countries are highly competitive. They will negotiate for things to be in their favor.
It’s time to put all of this behind me and focus on the upcoming day.