COCAINE use at football is leaving stadium toilets like a “launderette” full of powder, MPs were told today.
The DCMS committee watched what chairman and Tory MP Julian Knight said were “absolutely shocking” scenes of violence at games at all levels over the past six months.
And police and stewarding chiefs reinforced the message that the cocktail of drink and drugs was evoking memories of the dark days of the past.
Peter Houghton, head of operations for the Football Safety Officers Association said: “It's coming home from all aspects of sport that there has been an increase in cocaine use.
“A friend of mine who works at Cambridge United said that when he checked the toilets after a match it looked like a launderette – there was so much powder there.
“Violence at football has always been synonymous with alcohol but it is becoming abundantly clear it's not just a football issue and affecting different sports.
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“Now you are not just pointing the finger at alcohol users but are also able to point the finger at drug users.
“It is clear that one or two of those people in the video have been using drugs and are not drunk.”
That message was echoed by England and Wales’ top football cop, Cheshire Chief Constable Mark Roberts, who added: “It is not just the UK – we are seeing considerable increase in disorder across Europe after the lifting of pandemic restrictions.
“We are not anywhere near where we were in the 80s and we need to keep context on things. This is worrying but we are not back as bad as it was.
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“Cocaine is certainly a contributing factor to violence in the night-time economy and football. Football is a reflection of wider society.
“There is clearly an element of organised gangs who set out and wish to engage in violence. It is an unwelcome re-emergence.
“The concern is that we have younger people involved in this. The concern is that if younger people become involved in it then it is a problem for the next 30 years until we take some remedial action.”
Ch Con Roberts also pointed out that police forces were able to recoup only £7m of the £47m cost of officers attending matches last season.
He added: “It's unfair we only get £7m back when £7m couldn't buy you a second division full back.”
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