Category: Informative

Football Hooliganism Essay

The sport has an impact on almost everybody’s life some like to practice it while others support the team they like. Unfortunately, hooliganism became an issue in sports in the 19th century (Rowlands, 2001). Hooliganism became the reason why people stopped visiting stadiums and why sports became an unpleasant thing sometimes to watch. The term “hooliganism” is the act of attacking the opposing team’s fans, players, referees, and civilians (Rowlands, 2001). Hooligans usually sit behind the goals during the match. Those people create a risky environment and usually bring violence to the gaming process. Most of those people are well-organized working-class representatives but also youth that appeared to be more aggressive (Rowlands, 2001). Hooliganism is supported by racist attitudes and hate. Those people from gangs proclaim violence in the media. Such illness disappeared during wars, and now referees can ban the hooligans’ favorite team if there will be violence in the stadium (Rowlands, 2001). Unfortunately, it is still significant to mention that hooliganism is one of the most common diseases that distort sport in the entire world. Accordingly, hooliganism is a special form of support for a football team, which eventually destroys both team’s status and social order as well.

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Hooliganism refers to aggressive, disorderly, and even violent behavior of spectators at sporting events (Football hooliganism, 2015). It usually includes vandalism, brawling, and intimidation. Football hooliganism usually includes conflict between gangs formed for the specific purpose of physically attacking and intimidating supporters of other teams. Generally, football violence is created by two kinds of people, hooligans and normal fans who do not intend to get involved into violence (Laing, 2010). Hooliganism usually happens before or after the matches, because one of the parties is always dissatisfied with the result. Sometimes hooligans create clashes purely for fun, to discredit football and promote social disorder. However, there are cases when it occurs several days after the game. At this time the police are less attentive, and hooligans can choose the place for fights.

Young men and boys organize and take part in fights, provocations, and violent activities. Their targets often become the supporters of other football team, though sometimes they can attack even people who are not related to sports. The hooliganism can be noticed at football matches or other football events. The hooliganism may happen in the street, but football hooligans try to choose a place where they cannot be seen by street cameras. On other words, it is a place where the police will not catch them. People believe that crowd provokes football hooligans for fight. Buford (1990) has discovered that hooligans do not take violent actions against their will and just because their leader decided what to do. They make their decisions separately.

History of Hooliganism in Football

Aggressive behavior has been common for football supporters since the earliest starts of the sport. Like football itself, hooliganism began in Britain. English football is familiar with the incidents of football riots, since the 19th century. Already in those days, fans and the players themselves often agreed to fight after the final whistle. However, hooliganism in the form in which it exists nowadays, emerged on the British island in the late 1950s. The working youth from English outskirts of large cities did not have means for expensive entertainment, thus they chose football as a quite accessible type of rest. Gradually, it was not enough to support the team at home matches. Accordingly, the first problems originated with their support of football clubs, which were associated with national honor. Thus, hooliganism was a form of getting rest in poor regions, but then it became evident that large groups of supporters are often dangerous to society. Hence, in the 19th century, the main problem was the trouble of attacks between the opposing supporters, also between players and referees.

In the mid of 1960s, about 70% of all British stadium visitors were identified with football violence. Each second match ended with serious clashes, some areas in cities during the games turned into no-go areas. From 400 to 7,000 people with a clearly defined purpose “to identify the strongest” moved from one city to another (Brimson, 2003, p. 8). As a result, thousands of ordinary fans were staying away from the stadium, and the broadcast has become virtually the only alternative way of attending matches. In the 1980s, hooliganism became associated with the English supporters of football as they caused numerous major disturbances at home and abroad. Those disturbances resulted in many deaths. So, England has the worst international reputation for hooliganism. However, many countries around the world have the same problem that is growing every day. Football hooliganism is often reasonably called the “English Disease” because it is the British supporters that are extremely fanatic. Millwall F.C. is famous not only for its football players but also for its extremely dangerous fans. However, there are countries facing the same problems as the U.K. Football hooligans in Italy are famous for creating the unforgettable atmosphere using colored smoke, flashlights, and singing songs. But there is also the dark side of Italian fans: they support their favorite teams so passionately that they are ready to use weapons, for example, knives to fight the rival fans (Atzenhoffer, 2012).

One of the ugliest events in the history of English football hooliganism happened in 1985. It was called the Heysel disaster which involved the collapse of a wall by Liverpool fans at rival Juventus supporters. 39 people were killed at that time. After that, English teams were banned from competitions between European clubs until 1990 (Pearson, 2012). In 1885, after a match with Aston Villa, their supporters attacked players with stones. After the War, a more peaceful time for football came, but there was always a potential for the development of hooliganism.

Hooligans from various countries have many things in common: they sing songs, wave flags and banners, wear specific clothes, and take do some violent activities against other club’s fans or police. In most European countries, football-related violent conflicts occur at a local level and do not lead to the fights with other countries’ fans. Unlike European countries, British supporters brought the problem of football violence to an international level by fighting with European fans (Jackson, 2010). English supporters seem to be most violent and trouble causing fans. International football hooliganism is becoming more evident and required constant addressing. There are serious problems related to football violence in Germany, Holland, Spain, Poland, and Italy. The most violent football rivalries are between Ajax and Feyenoord, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Cracovia and Wisla Krakow, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, Rangers and Celtic, River Plate and Boca Juniors, Roma and Lazio, West Ham United and Millwall, and other teams (Laing, 2010).

There are several causes of hooliganism. One of the main factors that causes football hooliganism is the passion of sport. Violence is strongly related to the relationship between the two groups of supporters. However, the rivalry between different groups of supports is not always related to football. Hooliganism are involved in many attacks because they find it exciting. There is an idea that passion of sport impact hooliganism and it makes violent behavior more intense and gives the reason for new attacks. The intersections of the warring factions occur far from the stadiums and are discussed in advance on the Internet or by telephone. Fans have become more mobile and more vigilant. The changes in the structure of English society caused a larger number of wealthy and well-educated young people to join hooliganism as one of the most prudence groups.

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Politics, religion, and racism may also be the cause of increased hooliganism. The involvement of religion, racism, and politics among football supporters is hard to control. However, it is evident that racism and religion are serious problems not only for football fans, but also for ordinary people. They are often blamed for extreme outbreaks of violence and aggression, particularly at international matches. It has to be admitted that there are some hooligans who support racism. Because of these hooligans, football hooligans are eventually involved in racist incidents. For instance, Gimmer (2015) mentioned that Chelsea FC has been connected with racism. The club did not accept its policy as one that can be caused as racist, but in fact, the club “has attracted racists from across the country”. In addition, racist slogans from the stadium often cause clashes between fans. In other words, racism is still a very sensitive area for various provocations. In this case, football clubs do everything in order to lower racism to a minimum. In recent years, there have been many attempts to create ant-racist organizations. They came from the club level of fan and institutional forms such as the campaign Racial Equality (CRE), Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and football fans Association (SAA).

There is also a strong connection between drinking alcohol and football hooliganism. Alcohol is often a cause of anti-social behavior. European countries and the U.K. control the availability of alcohol during the football games (Jackson, 2010). However, fans do everything to avoid restrictions on alcohol: alcohol is illegally brought to the stadium, fans drink alcohol before the match, or mix alcohol with water. One more important factor is that football is always shown in pubs, where many fans spend their free time. All this leads to the next pulse of aggression, which is caused by alcohol. Thus, fans often destroy storefronts, pubs, or even maim innocent people. At the same, there are hooligans who are not so aggressive. Danish fans, for example, are less aggressive and they do not want to be “associated with English fans and, to a lesser extent with their German and Dutch contemporaries” (Marsh, 1996).

Hooliganism in most cases has a negative impact on the society. First, it causes mess and involves vandalism. It results in numerous losses and requires additional costs that can be spent on other essential things. Second, football hooliganism increases emergence of a new generation of hooligans involving young people. It means that more and more youth are engaged into violent behavior. People are usually afraid of hooligans and are concerned about their security. Football hooligans often act in a violent and illegal way, but the media also help people perceive football fans worse than they really are. In addition to the game itself, it demonstrated the mass brawl among football fans. It has both inspired hooligans, and also created a new means of social publicity and self-promotion as well. Almost a similar situation was observed in the press. The collecting of newspaper articles about their “exploits” has become a real passion for many fans (Brimson, 2003, p. 14). The dramatic film Hooligans by Lexi Aleksander shows how collecting notes from the press becomes a cult for many fans. However, the film also shows that the press could even provoke greater fan clashes. In this case, the situation required government intervention, and the reaction followed. Currently, the press has a power to shape social opinions by describing fans activities in an exaggerated way and influence the hooligans’ behavior. Moreover, hooliganism impacts the teams and their performance. As a result of football related violence happens outside and inside football stadium, it influences the sport. Football team members may be distracted by different activities of the fans and may lose concentration. Moreover, football fans may be banned from vesting the matches and players have no support.

Example of Hooliganism in Football

The authorities provide strong ways to control the hooligans in order to make football fan friendly sport, including stewarding, collecting information about the supporters who may cause some risk, separating supporters of opposing teams, and applying penalties for football-related violence. Under the legislation, any person involved in football-related offense received a banning order from the Courts that prevents an individual from attending any football match during the period of three years. Failure to observe the ban is considered to be a criminal offense. (Spectator violence in stadiums, 2008). Tickets usually cannot be bought without documents that confirm person’s identity. There are much stricter laws governing the social order and especially some concrete groups. For example, special filings control the most notorious and dangerous hooligans, but in fact, it has changed nothing. It is difficult to trace people who lead a normal social life, and then turn into hooligans. Nevertheless, many of the hooligans are in prison, while others are banned to visit football matches. Police inculcate their people into fans’ environment, identifying leaders and preventing possible intersections of the warring factions. Finally, high technologies help to control the fans more effectively. The surveillance cameras at stadiums and surrounding areas have allowed to identifying hooligans rapidly. Also, during the games, police takes the situation under control and it is the main reason why the hooligan activity moves to the streets. Nevertheless, the police are often powerless, because their actions are aimed only at protecting the administrative buildings and people, but not the termination of the movement. Thus, the police are also suffering after fights. Fans, especially from the right movement, directly associate police with the government that limits their freedom.

Many countries have special football policing infrastructure responsible for banning orders and other issues. Special Football Policing units monitor football-related disorders and the do their best to prevent hooliganism (Football hooliganism, 2010). Police forces have been involved in developing a great deal of expertise in coping with football violence. However, the difficulty “for the police in dealing with football hooliganism has been in differentiating between the hooligan and the ordinary football supporter” (Social Issues Research Center, 1996). Authorities also face hooligans of different age and different generations. Young people just turn 18-years-old and some as old as 65. An increase number of hooligans is recognized by the football authorities and police as never having gone away: “Two members of the Tottenham supporters were jailed for 15 months and keeping away from attending any football matches for s six-year for destroying and smashing some property of Arsenal’s firm. Also, 19-year-old was given five-year for being the leader of a group of hooligans that caused violent, football-related cases in the last months”. It shows that hooliganism is a universal phenomenon, and, therefore, is a danger for the whole world. Police with dogs, riot gear, cameras, and video equipment set up to make to stop any kind of violent (Jackson, 2010).


To summarize the issue, it should be mentioned that sports and regular activities have positive impacts on physical and mental health. However, like many things, the sport has a dark side. Violence in sport can lead to serious and unexpected results such as injuries, crimes, and deaths. Unfortunately, hooliganism is the part of each sport but this tendency makes the sport unhealthy and unpleasant to watch. People have to understand the spirit of this action and try to support the eternal meaning of it that is not about the violence. Hooliganism has to be prohibited and if violent and cruel actions by hooligans occur on the stadium – all of them must be expelled from the game and punished according to law to provide the best experience with each sport.

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