June 13, 2024
Peter Calder

The Final: Attack on Wembley an Important Showcase of the Pessimistic Side of a Beloved Game (1 minute rea)

With the excitement of the 2024 Euros approaching this week, it was a good time to watch The Final: Attack on Wembley, which is an in-depth look at what went on at the finals of the Euros at Wembley Stadium during the summer of 2021.

This was a historical event; it was the first time England had made it to a UEFA European Championship Final; it also took place just off the heels of the COVID lockdown and, of course, at arguably one of the most famous football stadiums in the world. All these attributes added up to a dramatic boiling pot.

As explored in the documentary, it follows the day, hour by hour, of thousands of England supporters storming into Wembley without tickets and breaking through security, police, and barricades. Football, or soccer, is the biggest sport in the world and is adored by millions worldwide, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows. I enjoyed the perspectives that the doc explored; there was a security guard from the match, England supporters, an Italian supporter with his little daughter and event organizers and personnel.

This gave a much more humbling approach to the documentary and kept it about the masses. There weren't any interviews with famous footballers, coaches, managers or celebrity types. I can remember watching this event unfold in a small pub on the other side of the ocean. Specifically the huge amount of hate and racism towards the three young, black England players who missed penalties at the end of the match.

It's important to show this in the doc because it was so profound, the high quantity of vulgar and awful things people were saying and doing in person on the streets and online. We are taken through each step of the lead-up to the eventual storming of the stadium, what it was like for an away fan and his child to try and navigate through the sea of aggressive England fans, or what it was like to be on the front lines of the gates and blockades as a security guard, having beers and other things thrown at you non-stop.

An interesting take I found about the doc was the England supporter's perspectives. In the end, they didn't regret storming the stadium and would do it again because, for them, it was such an important spectacle to be at, especially after being locked down in their homes for the year prior. I think this aspect was important to dive into because it outlines the culture of football in England so audiences get a sense of understanding of the reasoning or backstory of why the fandom is so crazy.

One aspect that wasn't mentioned in the documentary, which is an awful outcome from England football, is domestic abuse. There was a statistic that came out that says when England wins or draws a football match, domestic abuse is increased by 26 percent. And when England lost, it rose by 38 percent. These are horrendous statistics that should be spoken about and known.

Overall, I think the documentary was good at conveying important and interesting topics from great perspectives. I do wish, however, that there was more draw with the story throughout; I wasn't eager to see or hear what was about to happen next as a lot of the narrative was already shown and didn't keep me glued as much to the details as they unravelled

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