The winners & losers from week one of Euro 2016

17Jun, 2016

With the first week of Euro 2016 over, it’s a good time to take a look at which reputations thrived and which reputations barely survived. George Milburn spent the week at Effective Towers this week and shares his views on all the action on and off the pitch in the PR stakes.

The opening week of Euro 2016 showed a clear contrast of the good and bad effects on the brands and reputations of governing bodies, and above all countries.

What was supposed to be the first week of a month’s long festival of football, became a media sensation for all the wrong reasons, with violence and disruption being reported worldwide.

Trouble began on the June 9th in Marseille, the day before the tournament began. Violent clashes seemingly led by organised Russian groups took place on some innocent – and some not so innocent – England fans.

BBC News and Sky Sports News were reporting the events almost immediately, blaming England fans despite them also coming under attack. The trouble continued, and England fans were blamed by many. The FA received warnings from UEFA, as did Russia, who as of today are under a suspended qualification sentence.

Both sets of fans were representing their badge, flag and country, and the actions of some supporters defined the way the rest of the world viewed both countries, despite involving a tiny minority. With the events in Marseille dominating the media across the world, it’s clear that UEFA’s reputation has been tarnished – something of a regular occurrence over the past 12 months. On top of this, English football fans have been dehumanised yet again by many media outlets, including the BBC, Sky News and other news sites.

The French Police, who were seemingly non-existent in the Stade Velodrome and in the city of Marseille, were criticised for their lack of control and authority during these violent clashes. The lack of segregated areas in the Stade Velodrome has allowed Russian fans to run at and attack the English, and it is estimated that 150–200 Russian hooligans have escaped arrest for their part in the violence over the week because of this.

However, there was light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time of the violence in Marseille, Welsh fans were having the time of their lives in Bordeaux. Before and after Wales’s match against Slovakia, Welsh fans were in good spirts; singing, dancing, and taking in the atmosphere of being in their first major tournament for 58 years.

Both sets of fans have been pictured hugging and singing together in unison. One incident which went viral saw Welsh fans outside bars in Bordeaux applauding a newly married couple walking down the road. The reputation of the FAW and Wales as a country was boosted as of a result of their behaviour, and it’s clear that the FAW has done what the English FA has wanted to do for decades; distance themselves from the dark ages of hooliganism and set an example to other countries, and this is all down to the actions of their fans in France.

Thursday afternoon saw what was labelled as “The Battle of Britain” in Lens. England faced Wales for the first time in a major football tournament ever. Wales had a strong start and were 1-0 up, but England were reluctant to quit. A Daniel Sturridge injury time winner sealed the game for England. Despite many fears, there was no trouble inside or outside the Stade Bollarde Delelis; A sure sigh of relief for the England side and the FA.

Whatever happens in the rest of the tournament, the past week has shown a clear divide between the good and the bad effects on brands and reputation.

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