About Us

Contact Us


The 21st Century

Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters
Lifestyles 1
Lifestyles 2

The International Writers Magazine
: Dealing with the Fans in Europe

‘Visiting firemen’
James Skinner is the Hononary consul

Being the last of my series of ‘Diplomatic Diaries’, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and describe what happens when a whole group of Brits descend on a town en-masse or the arrival of British VIP’s on a diplomatic or business visit. Two very different and separate approaches I can assure you but involving, nevertheless a great deal of extra work.

Let’s examine the first case which could be anything from a large exhibition or international conference on almost any subject described in the dictionary or it could be an international sporting event. Take your pick from sailing and golf to the unbearable European soccer matches involving British clubs. It’s the latter case that causes the most labour intensive consular workload. Just imagine what goes on when a platoon of eleven Brits attacks a similar number of Spanish troops on small rectangular and defined part of the planet with thousands of followers on either side chanting slogans of hatred. Trouble is bound to be always just around the corner, or should I say stadium.

I arrived at the airport to meet the 09:30 flight from Madrid. The sun was shinning and there were no signs of fog on the runway that could delay the odd flight coming into Vigo airport. This time all was running smoothly. As the passengers came through the immigration check point, I was searching for the one that didn’t look like a Galician fisherman or a woman dressed up as a Versace model. ‘There he is!’ I said to myself. A tall blond mid thirties young man walked through the exit. Wrong! He was a Norwegian engineer. Finally, a stocky, grey flannel suited, middle aged male approached me and says, ‘Mr. Skinner?’
‘I’m Sergeant Jones.’
And so we began to set up the police check for the forthcoming soccer match between an English team and a local Spanish one competing in one of a plethora of European Soccer championships.

Scotland Yard and Interpol have got a pretty good hold on who the real European trouble makers are when it comes to undesirable football hooligans and other animal beastie followers. They are few and far between but they can cause real havoc. Most police departments on the continent coordinate and exchange information well in advance of the match on who’s who on the football criminal list. The good side is that both British and local police get on well together, especially during the ‘off’ hour entertainment periods. I get my fare share of cockles, mussels and white wine.

When the charter flights finally arrive at the airport and bring with them the ranting and raving mobs, my stocky friend and a couple of his colleagues are there with their computers and check list ready to ‘spot’ any undesirable troublemaker. The local cops have the handcuffs unlocked. The aircraft has not quite made it to the gate but you can hear the ‘Ole! Ole, Ole, Ole!’ as it bellows out from within the cabin. As the doors are opened, the human flood rolls out and the carnival begins. The supporters pack into awaiting buses laughing and singing as they continue their tribal chanting in support of their team all the way to the downtown hot spots. The match will not begin until later on in the evening. Meantime, the beer pumps are at full throttle in every bar within stadium walking distance. My police friend has shut down his PC and taken me for a meal. No criminals this time round, only brewery shareholders. We brace ourselves for the match.

Ninety minutes of purgatory as a watchful eye is kept on the goings on in the crowded stadium. If a goal is scored, the television cameras zoom in on a group of rowdies throwing coke cans at the pitch. Two guys are quietly escorted away.

The final whistle blows and the British team wins by two goals to one. They go through to the next round to cause trouble in another part of Europe whilst the Spaniards sulk and go home. Thank God for that! Now that they’ve won, most fans are poured back into the buses and on to the awaiting UK bound flights. A great deal of those staying behind hit the town yet again. My Sergeant friend and I contact the local stadium police for any arrests. There are none this time around. My next stop is the hospitals. Two Brits with cuts and bruises are dealt as out patients and sent on their way. At the end of the day all went well and everyone enjoyed themselves.

It was not always like this. Years ago, real tragedies occurred at many of these football events. No need to reach out with historical statistics as most of the horror days are now over. Consular work during football matches nowadays is to make sure that the drunken Brits get back home; with their passports in their pockets and that they haven’t beaten up a local Spaniard on the way!

It is quite different when the Royal Navy visits the city. The dandies are in town. Believe me its nothing but fun. Galicia is known for its hospitality towards the British, specially the elite of the armed forces. No sooner does the ship arrive that the dignitaries are there to enjoy lunch on board and a cocktail in the evening. A visit to the town council for the exchange of mementoes with the mayor, the laying of a reef on the grave of an unknown soldier at the British cemetery and a full blown press conference are the order of the day. Football and rugby matches are arranged, a trip to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral for the more cultural officers and a list of nightclubs for the rest are all part of consular work.
No different to bygone days, many a broken heart remains once the mariners have left. In today’s modern age however, it can be of either sex!

As I hit the final keys on this PC, I would like to say a word of caution to anyone travelling abroad who needs consular assistance. I am only available 24 hours, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year!

© James Skinner. March 9th 2005.
Vigo Spain
Man Overboard
James Skinner - Diplomatic Diaries Pt 3

Crisis Management
James Skinner in Vigo

Diplomatic Diary 4
James Skinner on ID theft

Diplomatic Diary 5
Going Cruisin'

More Lifestyle Issues


© Hackwriters 1999-2005 all rights reserved