1. A TYPICAL HOOLIGAN?
I am doing my special interest topic on Hooligans because it is very interesting for me to find out something about this group of people. If people talk about Hooligans a picture of a violent, male person with shaved head, wearing a bomber jacket, tattooed, always drinking beer and showing a rude behaviour occurs to their mind.
It is true; the average football hooligan is a white, working-class male, someone seeking status through the terraces. Most do know a lot about the sport and they are passionate about their club, but they see violence as a way of achieving status.
Young working- class men do not have channels for achievement elsewhere. They have unfulfilling lives and the majority of them have little status, having low status jobs, so they become the boss on the terraces, and if they can get themselves on TV or in the papers then they increase their reputation.
They are coming from working class communities where violence is a fact of life. They tend to come from particular communities that are characterised by an aggressive masculinity. Young people tend to spend a lot of time on the on the streets and they attend status in being tough and hard and being able to look after themselves. Most people get satisfaction and status through jobs, education or good housing, and for these hooligans, it is physical toughness that counts. A lot of people also get a certain kick when they are in a group - they get a special feeling of belonging to each other and getting one with the masses. They have a feeling they have never had before, because they probably never got a lot of love from their parents and it is very often the case that the hooligan group is a substitute for the family, because they often have a bad familiar background - the father drinks and beats the mother- this reason is quite similar as the reason why young people join gangs.
But there are also hooligans who have a good job, a family and live in a high social class.
There are hooligans who have criminal records and some who do not, some who are in an organized group and some who are just acting spontaneous without planning.
So it is really hard to stereotype a hooligan or talk about a "typical" hooligan, there is a majority who has a few things in common, but all in all you cannot talk about "the Hooligan".
2. History of football violence:
The first time football is mentioned is in the early beginning of the 13th century in England. From the beginning on, it has always been associated with violence. The original "folk" form of the game has been played most on Holy Days, involved only unstructured battles between the youth of neighbouring towns and villages. The reason for playing this game was very often to set land disputes and "manly" aggression.
In other European countries, such as in Germany and in Italy, some kind of parallels existed, but the roots of the modern game, as we know it now is to be found in these ancient English traditions.
These rituals, which were often accompanied by a lot of alcohol, often lead to serious injuries and sometimes even to death.
While the sporadic outbursts of violence in football nowadays raises general hysterical voices, our ancestors had no problem with this far bloodier origin of the modern game.
But even though, in the 14th century the first voices to control the game were rising. This was not because the people had a moral problem with the violence after the game, the reason was that the ordinary citizens went away from the market towns on match days and that was bad for business. When the game spread to London, orders forbidding the sport were swift. The Mayor of London was the first one who made a proclamation against football in 1314. Anyone who played football had to be arrested because he was of the opinion that this kind of violence resulting from the game was not good for the city.
The effect of this proclamation was limited, and despite a lot of arrests, the game continued. Fifteen more prohibitions were made until 1660 everywhere in England and Scotland, but they were all ineffective.
Throughout the 17th century, it was common that several hundred-football players were causing mayhem in the towns.
The Changing of the game itself from an unregulated battle on the field to the modern sport with certain rules came largely as a result of urbanisation and industrialisation which was forcing the game from the traditional battlefield which was very big, into smaller and smaller arenas.
Soon, the disorder of the game that had no rules at all aroused a harsh judgment. In 1829, a Frenchman who saw a football match in England asked: "If this is what they call football, what do they call fighting?"
Pupils made the early rules of the game. This sounds a little bit strange, but the situation was like that: the game was played in all school and it was very brutal. A lot of headmasters wanted to ban the game because the older boys showed a very rude behaviour among the younger ones. This was not very useful, until Dr. Thomas Arnold, a headmaster legitimised the game and encouraged the pupils to formalize a set of rules to govern it. The real violence on the football field was ritualised by regulation.
The new "regulated" game was calming down the rest of society and in this form; football was exported to the continent.
2.2 Export of the new game:
In France, Germany, and Italy mainly the higher class adopted the game because they liked the sporting values of the so-called "British gentleman". But by the early 1900s, the number of aristocratic players in France decreased, and the middle class for whom it was the symbol of freedom mainly played the game.
To the North, the Scandinavians also modelled their behaviour on the British one by adopting this new game. In Denmark, for example, large but well-mannered crowds often including royalty attended football matches in the early 1900´s. It was not allowed to make bets, but there was also no police watching the games.
In Sweden, spectators were largely segregated into upper- and working classes. The press was writing positively about the behaviour of the fans as long as it added atmosphere to the game. Combined with drinking, these "organized expressions of feeling" gave some cause for concern. The cause of rude behaviour was because of incidents on the field itself, such as fights between players, which heated up the public.
At the turn of the century English style football clubs were opening up all over Europe, where the founding members were engineers, technicians, traders, doctors or university students. The inter-war period saw a rise in nationalist feelings and the public got more and more interested in the game. In these 20 years, football teams made their own style, technique and strong national allegiances ready to challenge the British.
The acts of violence in this time were not caused by organized groups, it was more likely caused by overcrowding in the stadiums, so violent disturbances in the terraces were not uncommon and they were normally seen as understandable outburst of collective feeling.
In 1909 a riot broke out which included 6000 spectators and led to injuries of fifty-four policemen, serious damage to the grounds and the destruction of every street lamp in the city.
The disturbances were mostly against the players, but fighting between fans was very uncommon.
If violence went onto the field, it was the problem of the Football Association, if it spilled onto the streets, it became the case of the police, but if it happened on the stands, it normally went unreported.
2.3 The time between the wars:
No period in the English football history has been completely free of incident, but in the years between the first and the Second World War, the violent acts decreased. While only a few battles on the street were reported, the most incidents were verbal and the number of women as spectators increased slightly.
2.4 The new hooligans:
In the 1960, the match attendance on the field declined because of the invention of television. This not only allowed fans to watch games at home, it also published fan violence.
The 60s also brought a colourful change in fan support: The fans became more organized with chants and slogans and became more mobile. The trains were also vandalized very often. FC Liverpool and FC Everton supporters held the record for the worst cases of train wrecking in the early 60s. Some groups of fans identified and named themselves separately from the teams, and used match days as venues for confrontations with rival groups.
The other thing was the rise of youth protest movements such as the rockers or skinheads - the term Hooligan was often used for this kind of persons. This term and the TV images of undisciplined fans was arising a moral panic in society, which was supported by the press.
Incidents of football violence doubled in the first five years of the 1960s compared to the previous 25 years and football hooliganism was called "the British disease".
To point out how the situation of violence in Britain was, I show some Historical examples:
1314: Edward II bans football.
1349, 1388, 1410: Football was banned from London because of complaints from merchants.
1555: Football banned in Liverpool due to mayhem.
1581: One man killed by two others during a football match.
1740: Football match in Kettering turns into a food riot .
1843: 200 soldiers and 50 policemen were needed to patrol a match between Preston v FC Sunderland.
1881: At a station two railway officials were knocked unconscious by a group travelling to a game.
1893: During a match spectators invaded the field and fought with the players.
1896: While returning from a football match, three young men attacked and murdered a police sergeant.
1946-1960: An average of 13 incidents of violent behaviour by spectators per season reported to the Football Association.
1961-1968: An average of 25 such incidents per season reported.
But the situation was not only like that in Britain, also in other European countries violence occurred:
1908 Hungary: After a Manchester United vs. a Hungarian team the Manchester players were attacked by Hungarian fans as they left the grounds.
1933 France: Gendarmes were needed to calm down a disturbance in the crowd during a match between Nice and the Wolverhampton Wanderers.
1931 Germany: An invasion by the Hertha BSC Berlin-fans resulted in injury to a Greuther Fuerth player.
1946 Sweden: Hundreds of Swedish supporters damaged a bus of the opponent players.
3. NATIONAL DIFFERENCES:
In this chapter I will try to figure out in which way the fans differ from some countries and how they behave.
GERMANY: These supporters come from the middle class of society and not like the British mostly from the working class. The fans can be divided into three broad types:
The German police use a simple classification to defied fans:
A lot of real troublemakers have been banned from the official fan clubs, but they have formed their own gangs. They also publish magazines such as the "Fan-Treff". A lot of people think that German hooligans are right winged, and in fact, there are some groups who wear Nazi symbols and shout Hitler salutes, but the political attitude of German fans shows mainly a sympathy for democratic parties (35%) or have no politics at all (24%), about 20% of the supporters define themselves as right-winged.
ITALY: In Italy, there appears a wide range of social classes among "normal" football fans, but researches have found out that the hard-core fans (ultras) are working-class. There are also a large number of females and some students who support their club very hard.
In all cases, the average age of the most violent supporters was lower than the age of the more neutral fans. More than 50% of people involved in violent incidents were under 21 years old.
The culture of football is in Italy a national fever and for millions of citizens, workers, and students a way of life. The Italian fans differ from other supporters in the aspect that they are very enthusiastic, highly organized, they have a "theatrical" style of support that has also spread to other nations, like France or Denmark. If they visit a football match, they have flags, banners, coloured smoke, laser shows, choreographed chanting and singing, conducted by ultra leaders using megaphones.
Journalists call ultras wonderful spectators, when everything is going well, such as celebration, but they call them hooligans when there is trouble. But in both cases, they are talking about the same people. Nearly fifty percent are involved in violence and in theatrical support.
FRANCE: In France football has never had such a big number of live spectators as in other European countries. They are only one third compared to other countries. In the 1960s and 1970s football was not so popular in France, but in the 1980s and 1990s there was an increase in the interest again. The difference from French football to the British is that all social classes are well represented. Some say that the majority of the spectators consist of the working class; whereas other think that it is the middle class that is most involved in football violence.
The police say that the so-called hooligans are young, white males, mostly working class, and employed in skilled and unskilled jobs. Some of the more powerful "skinhead" members of the Paris Saint-Germain club come from the upper middle classes-sons of lawyers and managers. The French fans do not favour the English style, they are more likely to copy the Italian style with the singing and chanting and livening up the terraces - in fact the French ultras are more interested in creative elements than in aggression. Rivalry between the clubs centre on who is the most creative and who has the best songs rather than who is the toughest.
THE NETHERLANDS: Football Hooliganism in the Netherlands is heavily influenced by the Italian style. This is characterized by the colourful costumes and a carnival atmosphere of singing, dancing and good-natured celebration. But there are not only non-violent celebrations to be found in this land: their arch-enemies are the Germans and the groups of hooligans have fanzines and Internet news pages such as the "Daily Hooligan" where the fights are described with pride and are illustrated with photographs.
The Dutch Siders (equivalent of the ultras) are getting away from their teams and clubs more and more. They visit high-risk matches when a team with a violent Side is playing; this game is attended by far greater numbers of young people. The young people often support another football club, if their old one gets too boring. The main part of the fans can be found in the lower educated class. The age is also going down more and more: 43% of the Hooligans are aged 16 to 18 years, 28% are aged 19 to 21 years and almost none is over the age of 30. The supporters have very often had a problematic school career and lack of parental control.
AUSTRIA: The members of Austrian fan clubs are generally very young (the average age is at 18 years) and they belong mainly to the lower-middle classes. It is also important to say, that a highly percentage of the supporters (23%) are unemployed. Nearly half of the arrested fans had been in trouble with the police, mainly for vandalism and incidents with physical violence, but serious injuries were very rare. When incidents occur, the violence is not against other supporter groups but between fans and other spectators.
More recently, there is noted an increasing involvement of neo-Nazi skinheads in Austrian football hooliganism.
DENMARK: The Danish supporters, called Roligans are very enthusiastic, but mainly peaceful. They are seen as the opposite of the English hooligan.
The majority of Roligans (42%) are in skilled or civil service jobs, and the age of the supporters is surprisingly high (about 30 years). 15% of the fans are women, but the organized Danish Roligan Association reports a 45% female membership. The leading football clubs Brôndby Copenhagen and FC Copenhagen have the largest supporter groups. The one of Brôndby Copenhagen counts 10.000 registered members, which shows that football is a family activity in Denmark. Many families with children are watching the matches. The Danish idea of the game is the sentence "football has to do with laughter" and even the influence of excessive alcohol drinking does not make them violent.
Their political attitude shows that they have nearly no right winged fans and the majority (47%) defines themselves as socialist.
All in all it has to be said that violence occurs in nearly every country where football is played, but if varies from the culture to culture, because they all have other historical, political and cultural traditions.
But what you also can say is the stage of violence a country is in. This is divided in three stages:
4. HOOLIGANISM AND THE MEDIA:
In the big yellow press newspapers in England, we can find a lot of articles about violent incidents at football matches caused by Hooligans. The headlines are written in bold letters and they are very dramatic such as "Murder on a soccer train" or something similar. There is often the question what the media has to do with the problem of football violence, but there are some facts and theories that are quite interesting. To find out more about this problem, we have to take a closer look on the history of the reporting and how the style has changed:
Press boxes were first installed at football matches in the 1890s, although the reporting has started much earlier. History also shows that incidents before the First World War were quite common, however the style of reporting was different than nowadays. This means that most reports had only a little comment on incidents and the main report was about the game and the results itself.
During the inter-war years, the style of reporting started to change, because newspapers gave more space to advertising and so the stories had to be more sensational, but the roots of today's style of reporting can be found in the mid 1950s, where the public had a big fear over rising juvenile crime and about youth violence in general.
The press needed such stories and the football field was the perfect place to find them.
By the mid-1960s, with the World Cup in England coming closer, the press wrote about how the hooligans could ruin the tournament. The World Cup passed without incident but the moral panic about hooligans continued to increase.
In the 1970s the media was calling out for a harder punishment of violent fans with headlines such as "Cage the Animals" or "Smash these thugs".
During the 1980´s the tragedy of the Heysel-Stadium led the press and the mass media to report heavily about every incident and still does today.
Patrick Murphy and his colleagues at Leicester make the theories about what the media has to do with hooliganism. They came to the conclusion that over coverage of a problem can have the effect of worsening it and they explain it like that: If the society gets to believe that a phenomenon (such as football violence) is threatening and growing, it can be led to panic about it. This often cries out for tougher punishments and measures of control. This creates a situation of confrontation, where more people than originally involved are drawn into it. This is what they call the "spiral effect" which exists since the 1960s.
Very often the predictive style of the newspapers with headlines such as "Scandal of Soccer ´s Savages-Warming up for the new season" give reason for the alert of fans. In 1967, a Chelsea fan that was arrested said in his defence that he had read in a local newspaper that the other supporters were going to cause trouble. Also a lot of supporters think that if they read in the newspaper that there would be extra police, it makes the coming match more interesting. Journalists are also claimed that they pay football supporters to pose for photographs in their articles.
Furthermore, the press have played a role in decisions over policy making to deal with the problem of hooliganism, with very short-sighted measures. These measures have shifted the violence from the terraces onto the streets and towns outside the football grounds.
It also influences directly the view of the fan itself, if there is something reported about the violence, because some see it as an honour to be in the newspaper and some clubs start competitions, which one is the most notorious.
Another aspect where we can see that the media affects and influences the fans is the situation in Denmark or in Scotland where the popular press were a support to the Danish Roligans and the fantastic reputation that they had achieved in the international press. While the Danish press supported positive trend, fantasy humour and pride, the English press helped to intensify violence among English supporters by focusing on violent incidents and the shame they felt for their land.
In Austria the hooligans lost the coverage of the press and the number of incidents decreased.
I think that these aspects are very interesting to consider as also a part of the hooligan problem, because the media has a big influence on the peoples mind and behaviour.
5. RACISM AND FOOTBALL FANS:
Racism is a big problem in countries all over the world. The kind of racism in football goes out to black and Jewish players as well as to black fans.
The first professional black player in Britain has been Arthur Wharton in1889. Today, black players are not unusual-25% of professional players in Europe are black, but only 1% of the spectators are not white.
The forms of racial attacks lead from racist chants from the terraces, as it was worst in the 1970s and 1980s when football players from around the world began to join English clubs.
The supporters chanted very patriotic or very mean racist songs like:
"Stand by the Union Jack
If you are white, you are all right
If you are black, send them back"
The football fans were making monkey sounds as soon as a black player appeared and they sometimes even threw bananas and one time a living monkey! on the field.
In 1991, the Football Offences Act forbid racist chanting, but the problem was that chanting is defined to be done by a group of people in repeating words, so this means that the authority could not punish people saying racial sentences as long as they were not repeated. This loophole had made several right-winged hooligans not guilty which means that they did not have to pay any fees.
In the 1970s, groups such as the national front (NF) were very active and they also edited a magazine called Bulldog, which can be also watched on the Internet nowadays.
Supporters from FC Chelsea London, Leeds United, Millwall, Newcastle United and FC Arsenal London had all very racist attitudes, and after the Heysel incident where 39 people were killed by a collapsing wall, British National Party leaflets were found on the terraces.
Today, it is not common anymore that right-winged magazines are sold in the stadium, but you can also order them per Internet. But just because the flyers and newspapers are not seen at the games anymore, this does not mean that the problem of racism has gone away.
In 1995, at a game between Ireland vs. England fights between rival fans had led to a stop of the game for more than 35 minutes. Supporters of the British National Party (BNP) have been involved in these riots.
The reasons for the attraction of right winged people to football matches are clear: Football grounds provide a useful platform for the groups to make their voices heard. From them their views can be directed into millions of homes.
Some debates also exist to the question if right-wing groups attend the matches to search for new violent members or soccer fans join these violent groups because they offer the opportunities for violence acts. But all in all, both theories are right.
5.1 Ways against racism:
There have formed various groups to fight against racism on the football place. These organisations are called Professional Footballers Education (PFA) , Football Supporters Association (FSA) and there was also formed a Campaign for Racial Equality (CRE). In 1993 the CRE and PFA made the "Lets Kick Racism Out of Football"- campaign.
This campaign wanted to encourage clubs and fans to make their own campaign against racism. This plan consisted of several steps:
As a result of this campaign, a magazine called United Colours of Football was created which was for free for everyone. The project should also encourage the local Asian community to attend more games as well as sponsoring Asian football talents. The first fan-based group was the Leeds Fans United Against Racism And Fascism (LFUARAF). Their goal was it to fight against the selling of right-winged papers, and they even have success until today.
In Scotland, fans formed Supporters Campaign Against Racism in Football (SCARF) in 1991 because the right winged attitude was increasing. But they also had problems: their supporters had been threatened and abused; and another problem was to get the officials recognized that there is existing a problem in racism at all.
But not only in Britain, also in other European countries racism amongst black players exists. The most notorious fans concerning racism can be found in Italy (AC Milan and Lazio Roma), in France (Paris Saint Germain) and in Spain (Real Madrid).
In Italy, a Jewish player, was unable to play even one game because of massive pressure from neo-fascist circle.
Germany has very bad reputations in Europe for right-winged influence because of Adolph Hitler, and in fact, 20% of the fans call themselves right-winged. Sometimes, neo-nazi groups use football matches as occasions to plan and organize attacks against ethic communities and East European refugees.
Some countries in Europe have also introduced ways against racism in sports. The Netherlands has made a motto called "When Racism Wins, the Sport Loses" which they print at posters. In Italy, the players of the team threatened to leave the match, if they hear racist chants. This are some tries to fight racism in sports, but if this is all they have to do against this problem, is left open.
6. WAYS TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM:
Great Britain has the biggest problem concerning football violence, so they have also tried to find ways to tackle the problem. The plan in which they tried to fight against the hooligans was not so easy, because the problem was for the police to find out and to differ between the dangerous Hooligan and the ordinary football supporter. This difficulty lead the police to developing a system where all fans were included: the ones who were travelling to the match and the ones who were watching the game. The second step in their plan was to find out who the Hooligans were: and this had to be done undercover.
The police believed (because of the media) that all hooligans were members in an organisation, and so the officers got a new identity and they had to live the life of a hooligan and mingle with other hooligans.
They thought that the suspects would be a part of an organised gang that had caused mayhem throughout the country, wearing weapons and reading hooligan literature.
This plan resulted a lot of trials and convictions, but not all of the supporters were really guilty.
Another very common way to fight the problem in the 1970s was that the police escorted visiting supporters from railway stations to and from the match. Fans were surrounded by police and police dogs. Then the fans were herded into grounds via separate entries into areas where they were segregated from the home supporters by high metal fences.
Nowadays this method is not used that often anymore, it is more likely that the officers are posted at specified points.
The nineties has also seen a shift away from using police to control fans inside the grounds, with clubs relying more and more on Stewards, employed by the clubs. A Steward is someone who can punish the people for breaking laws in a particular clubs agenda and in ground rules, whereas the police can only eject people from the grounds if they are breaking the law.
Some Football Clubs play most of their games without a single police officer inside the ground. But the problem with this method is that the Stewards do not have a national standard for the training in crowd control and safety. Another thing is that they don not have the authority as the police.
Other measures in Great Britain are the use of Cameras all over the stadium and introductions of all-seater stadiums or the takeaway of season tickets as a punishment for violent fans. A very new method was that the press put photos of known hooligans on the front cover of the newspapers so that everybody can see them, but it is a question if this is a good idea because the people have lost their jobs after that, which makes them perhaps more violent than they have already been.
But there are not only efforts to tackle the problem of football violence in Great Britain, also other European countries have made their plans how to fight this situation.
Germany had a very different opinion how to solve this situation, and in 1981 the first fan project was introduced. This project had the meaning of preventing hooliganism by youth or social workers among supporters.
The project workers established a link between football fans and the police, in creating a platform for communication, which had not existed before. It also should help hooligans to find their personal identity and to get to know various possibilities of coping with life. The social workers should give the fans educational advice and recreation activities as wall as organised travels together and producing fan magazines.
Currently there are over twenty five fan projects in Germany, and also in the Netherlands, in Belgium, and in Sweden the idea has been adopted.
All in all, it is a fact that the British are Experts in fighting violence with punishments, police, cameras and separation of fans. But I think that this is not the solution to the problem because they do not tackle the problem at its roots, they just try to fight the visible problems. I believe that in the End, such methods like the fan projects are more successful and it is the only way (if there is a way at all) to change the attitude of the fans.
7. SUMMARY OF BILL BUFFORD´S AMONG THE THUGS:
Bill Buford, the narrator of the book is an editor of the journal "Granta". The book starts at a train station outside Cardiff, where he sees violent football fans for the first time. He tells this story to his friends, but they seem very unsurprised, like if this is something normal for them. This reaction confuses him and he wants to know what the supporters are like.
On a train to Manchester he gets to know Michael, a supporter of Manchester United, who introduces him to a lot of other supporters and shows him what is going on in the "scene".
On a trip to Turin with a lot of other supporters he gets to know what it means when it "goes off" - he sees English supporters fighting against other Italian people on the street. He is a little bit shocked, because the hooligans are very brutal, but he also enjoys the feeling of being in a group, he describes it as getting one with all the other people.
In this time he spends together with the supporters, he gets to know some things about them like that they like beer, the Queen, the Manchester United Football Club, goals, Rolex watches, the Church, expensive sweaters, money and themselves, they also often have big tattoos on their body with a red devil on- the symbol of the club, and they like to drink a lot. He also gets to know that they do not call themselves Hooligans- they say that they are supporters of the club and they just want to have fun. Most of them also live "at the jib"- this means that they never spend money because they are stealing things, and they sometimes even come back in profit. Some are also members of the National Front, a right winged organisation.
He travels to some matches with them for some time, but at the end of the book, after he gets hit down by the police, he is sick of all the violence he has seen and he decides to end his live with the hooligans, because he comes to the conclusion that if hooligans break the laws, he can not think that the authorities (the police) follow these.
My opinion about this book:
I found this book very interesting to read, because it is a true story, which makes it even more shocking. He also describes some characters and shows that you cannot stereotype the hooligans, because they are all different- there are even people in the group witch have a god job and a family. He also tries to explain how his feelings change in the group. I really think that this book is worth reading it, because he tries to explain how these people think.
Bill Buford - Among the thugs