SPORTS

Polish And Irish Soccer Fans Shame Hooligans With Heartwarming Embrace

This is what sport is all about.

It's the tournament that brings the continent together.

The 2016 European Championships are happening in France this month, causing the arrival of thousands of fans, and, unfortunately, violent hooligans too. 

In the video above, fans of Poland and Northern Ireland squared off in Nice, France, before their Sunday Group Stage matchup. While the video initially looks like a pre-fight scene -- opposing sides in massive groups pointing at each other, looking all riled up and showing off their singing voices -- their prideful demonstrations were purely for show. Instead of fighting, the two sides meet on the frontline to hug it out and share well-wishes. 

Poland went on to beat Northern Ireland 1-0, and no clashes between sides were reported after the match. If anything, the Poles and Irish probably partied together into the Nice night.

Different nationalities, same love for soccer. 
Different nationalities, same love for soccer. 

The heartwarming moment between opposing fan groups struck a chord on Reddit on Tuesday, because it's a welcome departure from the tournament's out-of-control violence. Since the opening match between England and Russia on June 11, Euro 2016 has been beset with multiple violent clashes between nationalist-leaning soccer hooligans. 

Before England and Russia kicked off Euro 2016 in Marseille, France, 150 "trained to fight" Russian hooligans targeted and attacked England fans, causing 35 injuries and 20 arrests, according to The Guardian. Using iron bars and quick-striking hooligan tactics, the Russian hooligans were described as "professional[s]" by Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin. 

That was the first of many clashes between English, French and Russian fan groups. English fans gathering around bars have repeatedly been attacked by both Russian and French hooligans, spreading the violence throughout the city. Local riot police have struggled to keep up with the outbreaks, and have been criticized for being either too laissez-faire or overly violent in their involvement -- authorities simply haven't been able to find a balance and achieve peace.

After this past weekend's nonstop violence, there's no shortage of amateur videos of the various fights, which have even happened after matches inside of stadiums. After Russia and England drew 1-1 on June 11, Russian hooligans charged at English fans, inciting a chaotic fight in the stands. 

UEFA has warned Russia that they'll be disqualified if their hooligans continue to beat up opposing fans -- a note the hooligans will likely disregard, given that they only care about violence, and not sport.

All told, 63 people have been arrested for fighting, and police have been given power to curb drinking around stadiums, reports The Telegraph. Hopefully, local police across France can preempt these attacks as the tournament progresses. And frankly, they have to. No soccer tournament should cause anyone to get seriously hurt or even killed. That nearly happened on Saturday when a 50-year-old English man was hospitalized in critical condition when a Russian hooligan beat him with an iron bar. 

Thankfully, there are some fan groups willing to set an example of what fandom is all about: universal love for the game, regardless of nationality. 

More of this, please:

Bravo, Polish and Irish fans.

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