Football hooliganism and youth violence brings to life unruly rebellious behavior in the form of fist fights, brawls, and vandalism. Racism stems most outbreaks. Who is a hooligan? What transforms a die-hard fan into a hooligan? Which country has the most hooligans? What triggers hooliganism? What are the causes and ways to prevent hooliganism and violence? If you seek answers to these questions and more, read on.
The unimaginable urge to vandalize, destroy, and resort to violence is triggered by the religious passion or love for something you believe in. Although the term hooligan is associated with various sports, it shares a strong bond with football.
Hooliganism in football has been a concern for authorities all over the world. Characteristics of hooliganism consist of unruly behavioral concepts that can arise from undying support for a club, player, or a country. With high levels of passion in supporters of teams, the rush of blood cannot domesticate the animal within. Disciplined chaos in unison with bloody brawls and targeted fist fights caused by hooligans have been curbed, but can the power of authority put an end to it. The answer lies in the passion that drives the game of football.
Every individual who religiously worships football understands the levels of frenzy the sport can generate and doesn’t deny the fact that there is a hooligan in each one of us. While some of us may express the ‘trouble maker’ in us through words, others give vent to their emotions through vandalism and extreme physical aggression. Media plays a vital role in making the world aware about rising trends in hooliganism and youth violence. The fact that football has a delirious fan following around the world makes issues about hooliganism on television and tabloid a hot subject. Although there have been times when news stories about hooligans being remorseful heartless substance abusers have been sensationalized, such false reports have not gained momentum.
Roots of hooliganism
Facts about the origin and history of the term are unclear. Many historians believe the term hooligan came into existence between 1840 and 1890 in London. Some theories claim it was a term that arose from the frequent field invasions by fans during football matches in those days. Invasions on the field were a common sight as the fans celebrated a goal scored by running onto the field and rejoicing, thus delaying the match proceedings. Other theories throw light on the fact that the term came into existence from the operative street gangs that caused disorder and mayhem during those days. In the 1960s, the term hooliganism came into prominence through the unruly behavior in sports in London, especially football. 1970s saw hooliganism at football matches escalate drastically with fans creating a ruckus. The momentum continued in the 1980s and 1990s and since then has been surfacing at regular intervals. Although the use of technology involving close circuit cameras, metal detectors and TV screens has curbed the incidents of hooliganism, the fact that it can’t be stopped is discouraging for authorities.
Spread of hooliganism
Although hooliganism in the form of vandalism, disorder, brawls and fist fights is common among English fans, it is a phenomenon that has fast spread to other parts of the globe. Hooliganism has garnered quite a reputation in England. Research reveals the highest number of active hooligans reside in England. Supporters of the English team are known for their notorious ways at causing disorder and unruly behavior in order to stamp their authority over rival teams when they visit other countries. Even with strong presence of riot police patrolling the streets and stadiums it is always hard to curb incidents of hooliganism. Drunken hooligans go on a rampage and are often involved in brawls with their rival counterparts. Rowdy hooligan behavior has fast spread to other parts of the world such as Italy, Germany, Holland and France, Turkey, Hungary. The hooligans from South America especially from Brazil, Argentina, Chili, Uruguay and Columbia are known to be a menace for riot police. Rivalries among football gangs in South America often result in death and injury. At the club level incidents like storming the ground, pelting stones, throwing bottles or ganging up on the referee or a particular player are common incidents.
Types of Hooliganism- What triggers hooligan behavior
There are various forms of hooliganism in football that are seen in different parts of the world. Some are a triggered by interracial conflicts amongst fans of footballing countries or clubs, while others are a spontaneous outburst after the result of a match. An extremely disciplined form of hooliganism that is a concerning factor for authorities is the deliberate violence and chaos caused by organized groups, gangs and fight clubs that pledge their support to football clubs and orchestrate various forms of violence that take place in home and away games. Members of these gangs engage in macabre and merciless forms of violence which at times can result in death and cause severe injuries. Individuals resort to infiltration in rival camps and send their members to away games to strengthen their support and stamp their authority over the opposition team. These gangs thrive on huge sums of money that are generated through illegal businesses for creating disorder and chaos. Its sad, but true. Racism is prevalent even today and is responsible for number of incidents related to hooliganism. In football clashes that involves countries, hooligan behavior is triggered by racist slurs and racist comments made by fans.
The patterns of destruction used in hooliganism differ all over the world. Hooligans may use various forms of violence in a stadium to disrupt the proceedings of a match. Resorting to a brawl or orchestrating planned attacks is the preferred pattern used in youth violence. These scenes are common in stadiums that are not installed with close circuit cameras. Other forms of hooliganism include going on a rampage on streets, vandalizing stores and pubs, destroying public property, and burning of effigy's. A common pattern that surfaces is the way hooligans of a losing team attack victory marches of the opposition. This results in a bloody battle on the streets which gets difficult for the police to control. In incidents like these, innocent bystanders who are not involved in any form of aggression stand a sure chance of being hurt or arrested. Hooligans look forward to the next meeting between football teams to get even and cause mayhem in the rival camp. Spontaneous hooliganism is often caused by verbal abuses of fans in rival teams. This form of hooliganism can escalate to magnanimous proportions and lead to brutal incidents like stabbing, gang fist fights, and backlashes in the future.
Age groups involved in hooliganism
Although there is no fixed age group involved among trouble makers, most individuals arrested for causing vandalism, fights and mayhem around the world belong to the age group between 15 and 40. Although it is hard to understand why a growing number of individuals in their teens are resorting to unruly behavior, psychotherapists and psychiatrists reveal the fact that it is the rebellious nature of hooliganism that has a magnetic charm of attracting youngsters. The game of football has fans with different temperaments. Incidents marred by violence and disorder tend to have a profound effect on youngsters. The rebellious sentiments of these incidents combined with passion, aggression and an adrenaline rush, leave a lasting impression in the minds of youngsters who emulate these actions in their loyal support to a team. Studies based on factual evidence also suggest that extreme aggression among young hooligans is triggered due to factors such as troubled relationship with parents or an abusive childhood. Reports suggest incidents of youth violence are rising steadily in every country and are expected to grow out of proportion by 2014
Effects of hooliganism
Although incidents of hooliganism are considered by many football fans as a sign of loyal trust and a pledge towards the support of their team, the aggression and hate towards the rivals in football can be carried off the field. In times when incidents between rival teams are marred by stone pelting and fist fights, the act of vandalism becomes common. Individuals go on a looting spree through streets causing destruction of property. These incidents maybe a result of the animosity of a loss in a football match but once hooligans get habituated to these incidents it can cultivate habits of shop lifting, stealing and mugging. Moreover, die-hard loyalty of members for a team can lead to forming street gangs that resort to terrorizing neighborhoods. The rivalry among hooligans does not end with winning or losing a match but rather escalates on a personal level which can sometimes lead to murder. Celebrations among hooligans can get out of hand due to excessive drinking which often lead to destruction of public property.
Role of Police in curbing hooliganism
Police all over the world have realized the importance of patrolling areas of strategic importance during football matches. Coordinated units work in unison to keep a watch on the proceedings during encounters between football rivals. Being equipped with helmets, batons, taser guns, shields and teargas shells help police take control of violent crowds. Teargas shells are useful weapons used by police all over the world to disperse rioting crowds during a football match. Using teargas shells ensures that the magnitude of rivalry between two groups clashing does not escalate. In situations when police are forced to use the baton or teargas shells hooligans often vent their anger on policemen who have to bear the brunt of abuses and stones. There have been few incidents where policeman have been mercilessly beaten up and even lost their lives. Raise your hats; it is the resilient coordinated efforts of Police that has put brakes on hooliganism.
Social Networking Sites and Youth Violence
For hooligans it is a matter of prestige to earn the praise and support of their clan for causing disruption and injury in the rival camp. While some people dismiss hooligans as troublemakers in society, others agree that they are passionate loyal supporters who stand by their team till death. The fights that erupt among fans due to verbal abuses and provocation have the capacity to convert fans of either team into hooligans of the future. Although social networking sites have made life interesting, they have their downside. Social networking sites are used by individuals to ignite and spark youth violence. Planning, plotting and implementing organized violence has become easy with the growing number of social networks. Several media reports reveal social networking sites are used by trouble makers to communicate and plan with fellow members or supporters in various parts of the world. Reports throw light on the fact that a large number of hooligans use Facebook and Twitter to give shape to their plans. Dedicated hooligans discuss, strategize and coordinate among members to launch a planned attack on rivals. In times when travel to other countries is involved hooligans tactically plan and coordinate with supporters in the countries to be visited to take on the rivals in that region.
Governments all over the world are doing their bit to tackle the problem of hooliganism. The changes in infrastructure include barricades, fences, close circuit cameras and TVs in strategic locations and stadiums. This has helped reduce incidents of hooliganism. The presence of riot police in home and away fixtures makes it difficult for hooligans to carry out their ambitious plans easily. Keeping a strict vigilance on territories of loyal hooligan groups also helps curb hooliganism and youth violence. It is important to strategize and plan in order to separate fans of rival teams in a stadium to prevent outbursts that can lead to violence. Although hooliganism can’t be stopped, preventive measures taken ensure that it does not exceed alarming proportions.