The FA's Director of Marketing and Communications, Paul Barber, has stressed the
The FA's Director of Marketing and Communications, Paul Barber, has stressed the need for England's fans to continue their recent 'exemplary' behaviour as a new season of international football gets underway with a friendly match against Croatia at Ipswich Town on Wednesday night. With the Home Office having released their most up-to-date figures on football-related arrests and bans on Monday, fan behaviour is once again very much at the top of the agenda.
"We cannot afford to take our foot off the gas now," commented Barber.
"The behaviour of the England fans has been absolutely exemplary over the last three games and we must do everything that we can to ensure that continues on Wednesday and in our big European Qualifiers coming up next month.
"We take the Home Office figures very seriously and are encouraged that the increased number of arrests reflects a tougher policy towards violent and anti-social behaviour at football matches.
"The majority of the arrests at England games took place in one match - against Turkey at Sunderland and even then it was the mindless minority that caused the problems.
"Since that game and the subsequent action taken by UEFA, we have done our very utmost to ensure that everyone is aware of the implications that further racist or violent behaviour could have on English football.
"The concerted approach that we have taken in conjunction with the police and the other authorities has been hugely successful but it is now, with Euro 2004 fast approaching, that we must re-focus our minds to ensure that we do not let our standards slip.
"The hard work that everyone has put into this campaign must not be ruined.
"It is therefore vital that the fans continue to behave as well as they have done in our last three games against South Africa, Serbia and Montenegro and Slovakia.
"The England team needs the positive support of the fans over the next few weeks, which will be critical both on and off the pitch.
"With that in mind, we also re-iterate our appeal to supporters not to travel to Macedonia or Turkey.
"There will be no tickets for England fans and the local authorities are not expecting any to travel.
"Both matches are live on television so let's avoid the potential for any trouble by staying away."