ANo sooner did pictures of the England fan appear in Leicester Square, flickering on his bum, than it was the race to track him down. Inevitably, it was the sun that won it. The perpetrator was unrepentant. Charlie Perry, a 25-year-old roofer, told the newspaper he had no regrets, drank at least 20 cans of Strongbow and “popped a load of powder” – three grams of cocaine – before sneaking into Wembley to see the finals.

Perry’s laid-back tone reveals a lot about the mindset of the modern football fan in a world where drugs are as common as alcohol. Cocaine is the secret fuel of football fandom, the only viable way for thousands of men to drink for 12 hours and still have enough energy to organize a mass break-in. In addition to the flare incident, Perry appeared in another viral video that day, patting powder on his hand and hopping it into his schnozz to be worshiped by the crowd around him. He wasn’t alone. Friends who were at the game say the stuff flooded Wembley. Everywhere you looked, England fans dipped keys in little white bags and put them to their muzzles. Sky Sports caught an enthusiast live on Wembley Way.

It was the same last time, during the 2018 World Cup. In addition to the endless videos of Three Lions that were cut in film and television scenes, there were dozens of clips of England fans using drugs in imaginative situations: on top of the lamp -Posts, at the end of slip and slides, on public transport, with the same regard for the consequences as if they were drinking an Evian. It’s not just England fans. The host of a pub near my house in North London tells me that on match days he estimates that 30% of his customers drink Coke. “In seven years of operation, I must have wiped out a value of £ 5,000,” he says, adding that the number is higher among those aged 25 to 40. In the post-Covid UK, cocaine has become another way of putting two fingers on the increasingly controlling government.

The prevalence of cocaine among soccer fans means that it will naturally surface during a major tournament, but it’s not unique to the sport. Use of the drug in the UK is at an epidemic level. On social media, accounts with tens of thousands of followers openly celebrate drug culture, with endless hints of “being on the box” or “getting a bag in” and loads of drug-related puns about “streaks” and “bumps”. and “beak”. The days of the drug as an expensive delicacy for people in the media or the city are long gone. For decades, prices have been falling as Albanian gangs merge supply lines, like some kind of murderous drug-Amazon. When Met Commissioner Cressida Dick announced action against “middle class drug users”, it meant fancy dinner parties in Notting Hill or Canonbury. The reality is that it is the entire middle class, broadly defined as large parts of the UK population.

I doubt anyone knows the real extent of the problem. For obvious reasons, drug statistics are unreliable. The suitors do not want to admit a violation of the law, the police do not want to reveal the scarcity of their enforcement if they know it themselves. If the government were to face the magnitude of the situation, there could be pressure to do something about it. Wherever you stand on the subject, all this brazen cocaine use is further evidence of the madness of the UK drug law. Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are being spent so as not to prevent taxpayers from donating billions of pounds to organized crime. Legalization may not be the solution – Perry might not have been so smug if he celebrated in Singapore or Saudi Arabia – but the current system is unsustainable.

There is an air of hypocrisy about stupidity from publications that otherwise claim to be the advocates of freedom

The sun gave Perry full sanctimonious treatment. The Telegraph and the Mail ran derogatory columns. There is no excuse for last Sunday’s worst excesses, the violence and mistreatment that injured Harry Maguire’s father, beat up Italian fans – and thousands of English fans had a memorable evening that should have been ruined by thugs. Nonetheless, there is a touch of hypocrisy about the sophistication of publications that otherwise claim to be advocates of freedom. There is no evidence that Perry harmed anyone while taming him. The sesh is a noble tradition in British history, ranging from Hal and Falstaff to Freddie Flintoff on his pedal boat. I can’t be alone if I have to admit that when I saw the beacon photo, my first reaction was to laugh. When hippies jump the Glastonbury fence in hopes of communal and chemical euphoria, they’re considered lovable villains. When England fans do, they are ridiculed as hooligans.

There is talk of the new roaring 20s as the country relaxes, not to mention the vacation savings accumulated over 18 long months. Not everyone wants to slump with a glass of Malbec in front of Only Connect. Perry admitted that the flare incident might have been “inconsiderate,” but also indicated that he was too pissed off to feel anything.

“That was the biggest day of my life,” he said. “There were no rules that day. I just know that I loved everything. I was completely beside myself and loved every minute. “

You can appreciate the feeling even if you disagree with its methods.