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Hooliganism In England Essay Writing

Football Hooliganism

What is Football Hooliganism?

"Hooliganism" is the term used broadly to describe disorderly, aggressive and often violent behaviour perpetrated by spectators at sporting events. In the UK, hooliganism is almost exclusively confined to football.

Disorderly behaviour has been common amongst football supporters since the birth of the sport, but it is only really since the 1960s that it began to be perceived as a serious problem.

In the 1980s, however, hooliganism became indelibly associated with English football supporters, following a series of major disturbances at home and abroad, which resulted in numerous deaths. Vigorous efforts by governments and the police since then have done much to reduce the scale of hooliganism.

However, it still persists, albeit in new forms. Today, in contrast to the more or less spontaneous upsurges of violence of the past, gangs of rival fans will frequently arrange to meet at specific locations, using mobile phones or the Internet, before and after matches to fight.

Furthermore, while England has the worst international reputation for hooliganism, a number of other countries have similar and growing problems. Today, the highest profile hooliganism problems tend to occur in relation to international matches and events.

In all these countries, some gangs of hooligans share other characteristics, interests and beliefs that incline them towards violent conduct, including links to far-right and racist organisations. Others, however, are apolitical, and are simply composed of men who enjoy fighting.

The term "hooligan" has a disputed derivation, but it is generally accepted to have begun to appear in London police reports in 1898 in relation to violent street gangs.


Although football hooliganism only rose to widespread public attention in the 1960s, it had been with the sport since its earliest development. In the late 19th Century, concerns were frequently voiced about groups of "roughs" causing trouble at matches by attacking not only opposing supporters, but also players and referees. Many sociologists point to football's origins in working class Britain as a factor distinguishing it from the majority of sports popular today, and contributing to its links with aggressive and disorderly behaviour.

Although football became more "respectable" in the interwar period, and violence went into decline, levels of disorder and public concern about them rose sharply in the 1960s, in conjunction with a number of other moral panics, relating to new youth cultures and growing racial tensions. In this context, football stadiums rapidly became identified as public spaces where large scale threatening ritual displays and fights could be staged.

Gangs emerged staking their claims to certain "territories" within football grounds, and strong "tribal" loyalties grew up intermingling gang mentality and support for particular teams. The territorial factor is widely accepted to be the principal reason behind the particular rivalries between neighbouring teams and the susceptibility to violence of derby matches - although other local factors are prominent in some cities (eg sectarianism in Glasgow).

It should be noted that in the 1960s, football violence was considerably worse in many other European countries than in the UK: in the early 1960s, the Football League sought to pull English teams out of European competitions for fear of the threat posed by foreign fans. However, studies have shown that football violence outside the UK is largely a postwar phenomenon.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, football violence was largely confined to football stadiums, but the trend since then has been increasingly to move outside. In the 1990s, following the introduction of all-seater stadiums, in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, nearly all large-scale football violence occured outside stadiums.

A watershed in the history of English football hooliganism was the Heysel disaster of 1985, in which a "charge" by Liverpool fans at rival Juventus supporters caused a wall to collapse, resulting in 39 deaths. English teams were banned from European club competitions until 1990, and during this time, substantial efforts were made by the police to bring the problem under control. Simultaneously, considerable efforts were also made in the 1980s by football clubs themselves to eliminate racism amongst fans.

The Public Order Act 1986 permitted courts to ban supporters from grounds, while the Football Spectators Act 1989 provided for banning convicted hooligans from attending international matches. The Football (Disorder) Act 1999 changed this from a discretionary power of the courts to a duty to make orders. The Football Disorder Act 2000 abolished the distinction between domestic and international bans.

The Football Offences Act 1991 created specific offences of throwing missiles onto pitches, participating in indecent or racist chanting and going onto the pitch without lawful authority.

In Scotland, a new law was introduced in March 2012 to deal with the growing problem of threatening behaviour particularly in relation to inciting religious hatred. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 creates two new offences: Offensive Behaviour related to football and Threatening Communications. The former covers expressing or inciting religious, racial or other forms of hatred and and threatening behaviour at or on the way to a regulated football match. The latter relates to threats of serious violence and threats intended to stir up religious hatred sent via the internet or other communications.


The excesses of football hooligans since the 1980s would lead few to defend it as "harmless fun" or a matter of "letting off steam" as it was frequently portrayed in the 1970s. Explanations for the phenomenon are wide and varied.

Moreover, while hooliganism has declined in overall scale, it continues to occur in new and sometimes more alarming forms. In April 2000, Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, two Leeds United supporters, were stabbed to death in Istanbul ahead of a UEFA Cup semi-final, in what the coroner's inquest described as "an organised ambush" by Turkish fans.

The extent to which large-scale hooliganism and rioting is now primarily an international phenomenon (and as the absence of crowd trouble at the 1996 World Cup in the USA would suggest, a European phenomenon) raises a new series of problems.

Frequently, incidents result in recriminations against local police forces, which are accused of targeting, provoking or otherwise mistreating foreign fans. The role of local police forces is evidenced by the lack of problems experienced during the Euro 2000 competition, which was co-hosted by the Netherlands and Belgium: the Dutch police, which has strong international links and a criminal intelligence service experienced in monitoring football violence, successfully contained those incidents that did occur in their territory, while the Belgian police fared far worse.

The influence of alcohol on football violence is also a disputed factor. In the past, when hooliganism was more "spontaneous", there was clear evidence that many of those involved were drunk. Efforts to ban alcohol from grounds and to monitor and control behaviour in pubs in the vicinity of grounds has had an impact on this sort of disorder. However, alcohol would appear to have little role to play in the "new" organised football violence.

The media is also invoked as contributing to football violence. Although reports are uniformly critical (apart from where blame may appear to lie with foreign fans or police), studies have suggested that the language of war and combat employed by the media in covering football reinforce the aggressive and confrontational perception of the sport. Headlines such as the Daily Mirror's "Achtung! Surrender!", printed ahead of England's match with Germany in June 1996, have been particularly criticised in this regard.

Ironically, perhaps one of the most significant factors in reducing the problem of hooliganism has been the widening interest in the sport and the influx of huge sums of money. At the same time, however, the influence of improved police technology and methods and a new unwillingness to tolerate hooliganism as "a bit of a laugh" have pushed it away from the mainstream and into its new, less overt forms.


Football-related arrests and banning orders: Season 2010-11:

Total attendance in excess of 37 million at regulated football matches. The total number of arrests represents less than 0.01% of all spectators, or 1 arrest for every 12,249 spectators.

During 2010-11 season the total number of people arrested in connection with all international and domestic football (“regulated”) matches involving teams from, or representing, England and Wales was 3,089. This represents a decrease of 9%, or 302 arrests, on 2009-10 totals.

The downwards trend in football-related arrests is continuing, but there is no complacency.

This covers all arrests designated in law under schedule 1 of the Football Spectators Act 1989 (as amended) reported by police to the Football Banning Orders Authority. This includes football specific offences (e.g. throwing missiles in a stadium, pitch encroachment) and a wide range of generic criminal offences committed in connection with a football match. This covers such arrests at any place within a period of 24 hours either side of a match.

During the season an average of less than 1 (0.97) arrest made per match (inside and outside of stadia).

No arrests at 71% of all matches. Two arrests or less were made at 86% of matches.
51% of all matches were police free – continuing to free up police resources to deal with local police and community priorities.

More than 60,000 English and Welsh club fans travelled to Champions League and Europa League matches outside of England and Wales. These 40 matches resulted in just 14 arrests of away fans.

No football-related arrests of England or Wales supporters at overseas matches.

The number of football banning orders remained steady, decreasing slightly to 3,173 on 29th November 2011 from 3,248 on 19th November 2009. This represents 962 new banning orders imposed during the period (1,025 orders were imposed during the previous reporting period).

Orders are time limited and expiring all the time.

Banning orders work – around 92% of individuals whose orders have expired since 2000 are assessed by police as no longer posing a risk of football disorder.

Source: Home Office – December 2011


"Most clubs in the Premier League play to full houses and most of their supporters are season-ticket holders. Clubs will ban any person who is arrested or ejected from a stadium and supporters do not misbehave as they would risk losing their season ticket.

"A number of football clubs have also introduced travel clubs for their away matches – clubs will only issue tickets for an away match to supporters who are members of the travel club. Anyone who misbehaves risks losing their travel club membership and therefore the right to a ticket for an away match."

The Football Association - November 2011

"The passing of this Act sends out an important message about the kind of Scotland we want to live in and tells the bigots in no uncertain terms that this behaviour will not be tolerated in a modern Scotland.

"By all means enjoy the banter and passionate support for your football teams, even passionate opposition of other football teams – it is the lifeblood of football. But sectarianism and other expressions of hate are not acceptable and it is time for it to stop. Those engaging in it will face the full force of the law."

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham, commenting on the introduction of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act - March 2012

“Tourism accounts for a significant part of national economy in many countries around the world, by contributing significantly to the GDP (Source: Tourism statistics journal)

The industry could potentially become on of the fastest growing areas in the travel and tourism industry due to the fact that it’s not very well established just yet, but has great potential to expand.

“By 2011, travel and tourism is expected to by more than 10 percent of the global gross domestic product.” (Source Sport business)

Tourism and football is not commonly linked, however it’s becoming increasingly related due to the nature of the sport and its ever growing links to the tourism. This is because football hooligans are people who are travelling to participate in violence after football matches as such in May 1985 Liverpool VS Juventus, Italian fans held a 30 foot banner with the words:

“Red animals” (Source Reid. G)

scribbled across it, thus showing that Italian fans knew they were travelling to Liverpool for a fight, and even made a banner to trying to provoke Liverpool fans to participate in football hooliganism.

The financial system of cities and in some cases even countries around the world are increasingly dependent on visiting or travelling football supporters, in some countries sport can account for as much as 25% of all tourism capital. Football attracts tourists to certain football stadiums around the country; however this has led to many cases of football hooliganism in and around the stadium.

“Violence and hooliganism have been part of our game for decades”

There has been many football hooliganism related movies and books, such as Green street, Football factory which are both movies, and the Cass Pannent book. This just shows what extent that hooliganism is coming to, showing that people, are making money of the situation, as well as trying to give people an insight of the shape that football hooliganism is taking. This essay will outline the history of football hooliganism and what people are trying to do to stop it from happening, as well as critically analysing football hooligans.

What is football hooliganism?

“Football hooliganism is a form of spectator – generated violence which has claimed lives in England and causes serious property damage in England” (Source Chorbajian. L.)

History of Sports tourism

The past has lacked integration in education and policy, however these days masses of research has been conducted and sport and tourism is becoming more recognised globally. Sports and tourism are to totally different fields and are not academically linked until 1966 when the first academic paper was published; this was published around the same time the world cup was on. Due to the contrast between the two subjects when it comes to educational departments have contested among departments to make the sports tourism module there own.

Football and violence go way back to the 1300’s. In 1314, Edward II banned football due to a brawl involving rival villages hacking a pig’s bladder across the local moor. In the 20th century only the rich could participate in sport, this was because the poorer/working class folk didn’t have enough money to participate in sport, also they could afford to follow type of sport as they didn’t have the money to travel to different parts of the country to participate in events etc.

However in the more modern game the “1880’s” (Source Guardian Newspaper 2001) according to the Guardian Newspaper in 2001 was the beginning of football hooliganism. Football hooliganism begun in the UK, the worst era for football hooliganism was 1960’s – 1990’s however in the 70’s – 80’s was the peek of hooliganism. The 70’s – 80’s was the worst period of hooliganism due to the amount of ‘firms’ (gangs) starting/organising riots after a match.

“1985 proved to be one of the most catastrophic years in British history”

Fans would travel from there home town to football matches to take part in violence. This is evident in matches such as the 1985 match between Millwall and Luton. The game was shown live on T.V and was interrupted for nearly half an hour due to the Millwall fans ripping seats up for the stands and throwing them on the pitch. When the game finally was started again; however Millwall supporters left the ground they rampaged through Luton causing thousands of pounds worth of damaged to cars, retail premises and houses.

Due to this happening the government reacted by implementing a new legislation of banning the sale of alcohol in football grounds, in implementing the legislation it was trying to reduce fans being influenced by alcohol to fight. Other incidences that accoutred in 1985 was that of Leeds VS Birmingham, where Leeds fans instigated a riot at St. Andrews Park. Trouble begun just after kick off, a handful of Leeds fans begun to vandalise and eventually demolish a refreshment stand.

The mood of the match remained tense but under tight control, until the 43rd minute of the game and all hell broke loose. Fans armed with bottles, wood and concrete climbed the 12 foot perimeter fences, on to the pitch where they tried to stop the game and attack the police. Eventually after 40 minutes of calming things down the police managed to resolve things. After the match ended the two sets of the fans fought against each other, mean while the pressure of retreating Leeds fans against a wall disaster happened caused the wall to collapse, in the rubble, a 15 year old boy’s body was fount. 75 people were injured over 50 were arrested.

1995 saw the first journal relating to sports tourism as well as the first BSc sports tourism course started in Luton in the same year. This begun a trend in sports tourism and hundreds of colleges/universities have begun to teach this certain subject. 2003 saw the expansion of tourism books, which shows that there is a growth in industry thus creating a trend. These days tourists have more disposable income and the low costing airlines, train tickets etc tourist are able now more than ever to travel at a fraction of a cost compared to the 18th century.

What are the government trying to do to stop football hooligans?

“Police forces are determined and committed to stopping all violence related to football”

All different types of people are trying to stop hooliganism, the government being the main people who are trying to stop this phenomenon that is football hooliganism. In 1986 a public order act came in to place which allowed courts to ban fans from grounds, this being backed up by the 1989 football spectators act provided for banning convicted hooligans from travelling and attending international matches.

Another way of trying to tackle football hooliganism was the football offences act 1991, this legislation was put in place so that certain offences such as throwing missiles on the football pitches, participating in indecent or racist chanting and going on to the pitch without permitted authority then hooligans can get charged under this act. The football disorder act 2000 eliminated the difference between domestic and international bans, this making it easier to convict hooligans from different countries if they had been caught participating in football hooliganism.

Due to the happenings of the Millwall VS Luton in March 1985 the introduction of a legislation which banned the selling of alcohol in champions league games (Source G.Reid Football war), this was to try and clamp down on alcohol related hooliganism. In past football matches when hooliganism was more unplanned it was clearly evident that many football hooligans were under the influence of alcohol. The effort to ban alcohol from football grounds was to try and control behaviour in pubs in the surrounding areas of football grounds which has had an impact on hooligans fighting in the grounds of the stadiums, in the long run of things alcohol didn’t really appear to have very little to do with organising football violence therefore the ban that is in place does little to stop hooligans.

It used to be possible to apply for a one year passport at the post office, known as the British Visitor’s Passport. However this was abolished in January 1996. Tourists have to get a full ten year passport. To me this is a way of trying to stop football hooligans of travelling to foreign countries on a short term passport. Also talks of national I.D cards system being introduced to try and track where people are moving to, this will ensure people are who they say they are, therefore if a football hooligan is trying to get out of the country to attend a match then they won’t be able to attend the match due to the I.D card.

Some clubs i.e. Luton took independent action, they banned supporters to a howl of protests from opposite clubs, this was trying to stop rivals from fighting. However this didn’t really work that well due to the fact that hooligans would just arrange to met up and fight. Some grounds i.e. Chelsea put up electric fences to stop pitch invasion, never got used, but threat was there and could potentially stop a lot of hooligans from getting on to the pitch. English clubs got banned from European games for 5 years after the Heysel stadium disaster to try and tackle hooliganism.