Football hooliganism is the term used to describe disorderly, violent or destructive behaviour perpetrated by spectators at football events.
Football hooliganism normally involves conflict between gangs, often known as football firms (the term derives from the British slang for a criminal gang), formed for the purpose of intimidating and physically attacking supporters of other teams. Other terms commonly used in connection with hooligan firms include "army", "boys", "casuals", and "crew". Certain clubs have long-standing rivalries with other clubs and hooliganism associated with matches between them (sometimes called local derbies) is likely to be more severe.
Conflict may take place before, during or after matches. Participants often select locations away from stadia to avoid arrest by the police, but conflict can also erupt spontaneously inside the stadium or in the surrounding streets. In extreme cases, hooligans, police, and bystanders have been killed, and body-armoured riot police have intervened with tear gas, police dogs, armoured vehicles and water cannons. Hooligan-led violence has been called "aggro" (short for "aggravation") and "bovver" (the Cockney pronunciation of "bother", i.e. trouble).
Hooligans who have the time and money, may follow national teams to away matches and engage in hooligan behaviour against the hooligans of the home team. They may also become involved in disorder involving the general public. While national-level firms do not exist in the form of club-level firms, hooligans supporting the national team may use a collective name indicating their allegiance.
Football hooliganism involves a wide range of behaviour, including:
- unarmed fighting
- throwing of objects on to the pitch, either in an attempt to harm players and officials or as a gesture of insult.
- throwing of objects at opposing supporters, including stones, bricks, coins, flares and Molotov cocktails.
- fighting with weapons including sports bats, glass bottles, rocks, rebar, knives, machetes and firearms.
- disorderly crowd behaviour such as pushing, which may cause stadium fixtures such as fences and walls to collapse. Similar effects can occur when law-abiding crowds try to flee disorder caused by hooligans.
The first instance of football violence is unknown, but the phenomenon can be traced back to 14th-century England. In 1314, Edward II banned football (at that time, a violent, unruly activity involving rival villages kicking a pig's bladder across the local heath) because he believed the disorder surrounding matches might lead to social unrest, or even treason. According to a University of Liverpool academic paper, conflict at an 1846 match in Derby, England, required a reading of the "riot act" and two groups of dragoons to effectively respond to the disorderly crowd. This same paper also identified "pitch invasions" as a common occurrence during the 1880s in English football.
The first recorded instances of football hooliganism in the modern game allegedly occurred during the 1880s in England, a period when gangs of supporters would intimidate neighbourhoods, in addition to attacking referees, opposing supporters and players. In 1885, after Preston North End beat Aston Villa 5–0 in a friendly match, both teams were pelted with stones, attacked with sticks, punched, kicked and spat at. One Preston player was beaten so severely that he lost consciousness and press reports at the time described the fans as "howling roughs". The following year, Preston fans fought Queen's Park fans in a railway station—the first alleged instance of football hooliganism outside of a match. In 1905, a number of Preston fans were tried for hooliganism, including a "drunk and disorderly" 70-year-old woman, following their match against Blackburn Rovers.
Although instances of football crowd violence and disorder have been a feature of association football throughout its history (e.g. Millwall's ground was reportedly closed in 1920, 1934 and 1950 after crowd disturbances), the phenomenon only started to gain the media's attention in the late 1950s due to the re-emergence of violence in Latin American football. In the 1955–56 English football season, Liverpool and Everton fans were involved in a number of incidents and, by the 1960s, an average of 25 hooligan incidents were being reported each year in England. The label "football hooliganism" first began to appear in the English media in the mid-1960s, leading to increased media interest in, and reporting of, acts of disorder. It has been argued that this in turn created a 'moral panic' out of proportion with the scale of the actual problem.
Football hooliganism has factors in common with juvenile delinquency and what has been called "ritualized male violence". Sports Studies scholars Paul Gow and Joel Rookwood at Liverpool Hope University found in a 2008 study that "Involvement in football violence can be explained in relation to a number of factors, relating to interaction, identity, legitimacy and power. Football violence is also thought to reflect expressions of strong emotional ties to a football team, which may help to reinforce a supporter’s sense of identity." In relation to the Heysel Stadium disaster one study from 1986 claimed that alcohol, irregular tickets sales, the disinterest of the organisers and the "'cowardly ineptitude'" of the police had led to the tragedy. Gow and Rookwood's 2008 study, which used interviews with British football hooligans found that while some identified structural social and physiological causes (e.g. aggression produces violent reactions) most interviewees claimed that media reports (especially in newspapers) and the police's handling of hooligan related events were the main causes of hooliganism.Political reasons may also play in part in hooliganism, especially if there is a political undertone to such a match (e.g. unfriendly nations facing each other).
Writing for the BBC in 2013, David Bond stated that in the UK, "[h]igh-profile outbreaks of violence involving fans are much rarer today than they were 20 or 30 years ago. The scale of trouble now compared to then doesn't bear comparison – either in terms of the number of people involved or the level of organisation. Football has moved on thanks to banning orders and better, more sophisticated policing. And while it is too simplistic to say that the higher cost of watching football has pushed unsavoury elements out, there has been a shift in the way people are expected to behave inside grounds. Offensive chants are still way too commonplace but actual fighting doesn't happen very often."
Football hooligans often appear to be less interested in the football match than in the associated violence. They often engage in behaviour that risks their being arrested before the match, denied admittance to the stadium, ejected from the stadium during the match or banned from attending future matches. Hooligan groups often associate themselves with, and congregate in, a specific section (called an end in England) of their team's stadium, and sometimes they include the section's name in the name of their group. In the United Kingdom, 1960s and early 1970s football hooliganism was associated with the skinhead subculture. Later, the casual subculture transformed the British football hooligan scene. Instead of wearing working class skinhead-style clothes, which readily identified hooligans to the police, hooligans began wearing designer clothes and expensive "offhand" sportswear (clothing worn without careful attention to practical considerations), particularly Stone Island, Prada, Burberry, CP Company, Sergio Tacchini and Adidas.
Police and civil authorities in various countries with hooligan problems have taken a number of measures, including:
- banning items that could be used as weapons or missiles in stadia, and searching suspected hooligans
- banning identified hooligans from stadia, either formally via judicial orders, or informally by denying them admittance on the day
- moving to all-seated stadia, which reduces the risk of disorderly crowd movement
- segregating opposing fans, and fencing enclosures to keep fans away from each other and off the pitch
- banning opposing fans from matches and/or ordering specific matches to be played behind closed doors
- compiling registers of known hooligans
- restricting the ability of known hooligans to travel overseas.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Football hooliganism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is particularly associated with the supporters of clubs such as FK Sarajevo (Horde Zla), FK Željezničar Sarajevo (The Maniacs), FK Velež Mostar (Red Army), HŠK Zrinjski Mostar (Ultrasi) and FK Borac Banja Luka (Lešinari). Other clubs with hooligans as supporters include FK Sloboda Tuzla (Fukare), NK Čelik Zenica (Robijaši) and NK Široki Brijeg (Škripari).
Hooliganism reflects local ethnic divisions and tensions. Bosniak oriented groups are fans of FK Sarajevo, FK Željezničar and FK Velež Mostar. Serb oriented groups are fans of FK Borac Banja Luka, FK Slavija, and FK Drina Zvornik (Vukovi). Croat oriented groups are fans of NK Široki Brijeg (Škripari) and HŠK Zrinjski Mostar.
Many fans are associated with fascist ideologies, supporting and glorifying extremist movements such as the Ustaše, Chetniks and Nazis.
In 2009 riots between supports of Bosnian Premier League club sides NK Široki Brijeg and FK Sarajevo left Horde Zla supporter Vedran Puljić (from Sarajevo) dead from a gunshot wound.
Hooliganism has also been present in lower leagues. Riots have been common in Jablanica because fans of different clubs tend to meet and clash there.
Football hooliganism in Croatia has seen riots over inter-ethnic resentments and the politics that were reignited by the breakup of the Yugoslav federation in the 1990s. Two of the best known hooligan firms are Torcida (Hajduk Split) and Bad Blue Boys (Dinamo Zagreb). However, the groups are not just hooligan firms; they are more like the South American Torcida supporters groups and Ultras groups, with organised Tifos and so on.
On 13 May 1990 (before the breakup of Yugoslavia) Serbian club Red Star Belgrade was in Zagreb to play Dinamo Zagreb at the Maksimir Stadium. Red Star was accompanied by 3000 Delije, the organized supporters of the club. Before the match a number of small fights broke out. Police reinforcements soon arrived with armoured vehicles and water cannons, focusing to separate the fans. Dinamo's player Zvonimir Boban kicked one policeman, defending a Dinamo's fan beaten by the police. The fighting lasted for over an hour and hundreds of people were injured. Football hooliganism in Croatia is sometimes connected with racism and nationalism, although the racist remarks, if any appear, are pointed solely to opposing club's players, never to own squad.
Ethnic tension between Croats and Serbs has also led to fighting at a football match in Australia. On 13 March 2005, Sydney United (who have a large Croatian following, and were established by Croatian immigrants) and Bonnyrigg White Eagles (who have a large Serbian following and were established by Serbian immigrants) met in Sydney in the New South Wales Premier League. About 50 fans clashed, resulting in two police officers getting injured and five fans being arrested. Football NSW held an inquiry into the events. Both clubs denied that the fight was racially motivated or that there was any ethnic rivalry. P Croatian hooligans are also notorious for staging large illegal pyroshows at stadiums, where signal flares and smoke bombs are hurled onto the pitch causing postponement or cancellation of the match. A large incident occurred in 2003 in Rome during the Hajduk-Roma match when 900 Torcida fans threw signal flares at Roma fans resulting in various injuries and clashes with the police.
Another incident occurred in Genoa in 2007 when masked Torcida fans attacked the police with bricks, bottles and stones. Rioting continued in the stadium when Torcida fans threw chairs into the pitch and made nazi salutes. A riot occurred in 2006 in Osijek during the Osijek-Dinamo match. Several clashes between the Bad Blue Boys and Kohorta occurred before the match in which one Osijek fan received several stab wounds after which Osijek fans attacked the police and Dinamo fans with signal flares and stones.
A large riot occurred in 2008 in Prague prior to the Sparta Prague-Dinamo match. Riots were ignited with the support of Sparta's ultrafans to Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. Approximately 500 Bad Blue Boys rioted in the city centre breaking shops and attacking police with chairs, signal flares and stones. Approximately 300 Bad Blue Boys were detained and 8 police officer were injured. Prior to the riots some Bad Blue Boys provoked local Romani people by giving nazi salutes.
A large riot occurred in 2010 on 1.May at the Maksimir stadium when the Bad Blue Boys clashed with the police resulting in many arrests and one critically injured police officer. After the match violent clashes continued in which one Dinamo fan was shot by police officers. A large incident occurred in 2009 prior to the FC Timişoara-Dinamo match. 400 Bad Blue Boys rioted in the city centre and attacked local people. After the incident Romanian police detained a large number of Dinamo fans but the situation escalated again at the FC Timişoara stadium when 200 Bad Blue Boys tore down the pitch fence and attacked the police with chairs and bats resulting in several injured police officers. During the clash Dinamo fans fired signal missiles at FC Timişoara fans resulting in severe injuries. Many Croatian hooligan groups have also displayed nazi flags at matches and have neo-naziskinheads in their ranks. Several incidents occurred when Bad Blue Boys and Torcida made racist chants towards opposing club's football players of African descent and hurled bananas in the pitch. In 2010, a Cameroon player was attacked in Koprivnica resulting in severe injuries.
In December 2010. 10–15 Tornado (Zadar) hooligans attacked a Partizan traveling coach with stones and bricks resulting in one injured person. In December 2010 30–40 Bad Blue Boys attacked a PAOK traveling coach with stones, bricks and flares setting the traveling coach on fire and inflicting injuries on several passengers.
In November 2014, during a Euro 2016 qualifying game in Milan, Italy hooligans from Croatia threw flares and fireworks onto the field and the game had to be briefly suspended.
Football hooliganism in Cyprus has been an issue for the past few decades and incidents are generally associated with the 5 major Cypriot clubs.
Anorthosis Famagusta FC fans have been in involved in many incidents on most occasions involving their ultras group "Mahites". The two clubs in Limassol, AEL Limassol and Apollon Limassol have also been involved in numerous incidents, especially in recent years.
Supporters of APOEL FC and AC Omonia Nicosia, the two most successful and most popular clubs in the country are notorious for hooliganism. The most violent cases of hooliganism in Cyprus usually involve the two teams. In May 2009 APOEL fans entered the Omonia stand and engaged in fistfights with Omonia fans eventually throwing one down the stand stairs. 6 months later in November fans of the two teams clashed close to the GSP Stadium when APOEL fans tried to hijack a futsal tournament organized by Omonia. Many were injured including an APOEL fan who was almost beaten to death.
The rivalry between Omonia and APOEL has its roots in politics. APOEL fans are in their majority right wing whereas Omonia fans are left wing. Communist symbols in the Omonia stand and right wing or even fascist symbols in the APOEL stand are not uncommon. The Limassol rivalry between Apollon and AEL Limassol is more a matter of what team dominates over the city. Hooliganism in the case of Anorthosis is also politically linked, especially when the club plays a left wing team such as Omonia. Other incidents between clubs of different cities that are of the same political orientation are associated with intercity rivalries, particularly when a club from Limassol faces a club from Nicosia.
Football hooliganism in France is often rooted in social conflict, including racial tension. In the 1990s, fans of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) fought with supporters from Belgium, England, Germany, Italy and Scotland. There is a long-standing north/south rivalry between PSG (representing Paris and by extension northern France) and Olympique de Marseille (representing the South of France) which has encouraged authorities to be extremely mobilised during games between the two teams. Violent fights and post-game riots including car burning, and shop windows smashing have been a regular fixture of PSG-OM games. In 2000, the bitter rivalry turned particularly violent.
On 24 May 2001, fifty people were injured when fighting broke out at a match between PSG and Turkish club Galatasaray at the Parc des Princes stadium. PSG were initially given a record $571,000 fine, but it was reduced on appeal to $114,000. Galatasaray was initially fined $114,000 by UEFA, but it too was eventually reduced to $28,500. In May 2001, six PSG fans from the Supporters Club, were arrested and charged with assault, carrying weapons, throwing items on the pitch and racism. The six were alleged to have deliberately entered a part of the Parc des Princes stadium where French fans of Turkish origin were standing, in order to attack them. The six were banned from all football stadiums for the duration of their trial.
On 24 November 2006 a PSG fan was shot and killed by police and another seriously injured during fighting between PSG fans and the police. The violence occurred after PSG lost 4–2 to Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv at the Parc des Prince in a UEFA Cup match. PSG fans chased a fan of Hapoel Tel Aviv, shouting racist and anti-semitic slogans. A plainclothes police officer who tried to protect the Hapoel fan was attacked, and in the chaos, one fan was shot dead and another seriously injured. In response, the French Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy held a meeting with the president of the French Football League, Frederic Thiriez to discuss racism and violence in football. The director-general of the French police, Michel Gaudin, insisted that measures against football hooliganism had reduced racist incidents to six that season from nineteen in the previous season. Gaudin also stated that 300 known hooligans could be banned from matches. The fan who was shot, was linked with the Boulogne Boys, a group of fans who modelled themselves on British hooligans in the 1980s. The group's name comes from the Kop of Boulogne (KOB), one of the two main home fan stand at the Parc des Princes.
The KOB themselves held a silent memorial march attended by 300 and accused the police office of murdering the fan. They cited bias in the French press who had only given a "one-sided" account of the incident. French President Jacques Chirac condemned violence that led up to the shooting, stating that he was horrified by the reports of racism and anti-Semitism. French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin called for new, tougher measures to deal with football hooligans. Prosecutors opened an inquiry into the incident, to determine whether the officer involved should face criminal charges.
Before a home match against Sochaux on 4 January 2006, two Arab youths were punched and kicked by white fans outside the entrance to the KOB. During the match racist insults were aimed at black players and a PSG player of Indian origin, Vikash Dhorasoo was told to "go sell peanuts in the metro". In the recent years, following UK's example, France's legislation has changed, including more and more banning of violent fans from stadiums. The threat of dissolution of fan groups has also tempered the outward rivalry and violence of a number of fans. Known violent fans under ban sentences are to report to the nearest Police station on nights of game, to prove they are not anywhere in proximity to the stadium.
On 11 June 2016, during a Euro 2016 match in Marseille between Russia and England, violent conflict broke out between the fans and left 35 injured. Both threw numerous items at each other and engaged in physical combat. Even a person who is recording the incident can be seen stomping another person's head. Because of this, both countries were given a disqualification warning soon later. The match ended with 1-1.
On 16 April 2017, during a match between Olympique Lyonnais and SC Bastia, supporters of SC Bastia invaded the pitch in an attempt to fight Lyonnais players. The match was then postponed.
Some football hooliganism in Germany has been linked to neo-Nazism and far right groups. In June 1998, after a FIFA World Cup match in France between Germany and Yugoslavia a French policeman was beaten to the point of brain damage by German fans. Following the incident, German police contacted many of the known 2,000+ German hooligans to warn them they would be arrested if they travelled to upcoming matches in France. A German fan was arrested in 1998 and charged with attempted murder and in 1999, four more Germans were convicted in the attack In 2001, Markus Warnecke, the German fan who was accused of leading the attack, was found guilty and jailed for five years and banned from France for ten years, and from all sports facilities for five years.
In March 2005, German football fans fought with police and rival fans at a friendly match between Germany and Slovenia in Celje, Slovenia, damaging cars and shops, and shouting racist slogans. The German Football Association (DFB) apologised for the behaviour. As a result, 52 people were arrested; 40 Germans and 12 Slovenians. Following a 2–0 defeat to Slovakia in Bratislava, Slovakia, German hooligans fought with the local police, and six people were injured and two were taken into custody. The DFB again apologised for fans who chanted racist slogans.
In June 2006, Germany beat Poland in a World Cup Finals match in Dortmund, which led to violent clashes. The police detained over 300 people in Dortmund and German fans threw chairs, bottles and fireworks at the police. Of the 300 arrested, 120 were known hooligans. In October 2006, a task force was established to deal with violence and racism in German football stadiums. The worst incident took place at a Third division (North) match between the Hertha BSC Berlin B-team and Dynamo Dresden, in which 23 policemen were injured. In February 2007 in Saxony, all German lower league matches, from the fifth division downward were cancelled after about 800 fans attacked 300 police officers (injuring 39 of them) after a match between Lokomotive Leipzig and Erzgebirge Aue II. There were minor disturbances after the Germany and England match during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. An English flag was burned down amongst a mob of German supporters in Duisburg-Hamborn in Germany.
The first incidents between Football fans in Greece were recorded in June 1930, after the match between Aris Thessaloniki and Panathinaikos F.C. at Thessaloniki. While Panathinaikos fans where arriving at the port of Piraeus from Thessaloniki, Olympiakos fans, who had not forgotten the big loss of their team (8–2) by Panathinaikos F.C. riot with the green fans. The word "hooliganism" was recorded at the early '60s where Greek students in the UK who had experienced the phenomenon of hooliganism there first taught the term to the journalists who were unable to explain why the fans were fighting each other and gave this situation a name. In 1962, after Panathinaikos F.C. and P.A.O.K. F.C. match incidents, newspapers wrote for the first time that hooligans (Χούλιγκανς) vandalized Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium. It was on 19 November 1966 that a big flag, at the 13th gate of Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium announced the arrival of a new group on the scene. Gate 13 would be the first organized group that over the years became a part of the club by affecting club decisions and by following the club on all possible occasions. P.A.O.K. F.C. fans made Gate 4 in 1978 and Olympiacos fans create the Gate 7 in 1981. In 1982, between Aris FC – Paok FC match incidents, Aris Dimitriadis was stabbed and later died in Thessaloniki's hospital. On 26 October 1986, at the Alkazar stadium of Larissa Charalambos Blionas was killed by a flare pistol thrown by the Paok fans. One month later anastasios Zontos was stabbed to death in Omonoia square in the center of Athens before the match AEK Athens F.C. & P.A.O.K. F.C.. In January 1991, before the derby of Aek F.C. and Olympiakos F.C., George Panagiotou died in the incidents between hooligans outside Nea Filadelfia's stadium hit by flare pistol. On 15 May 2005, in Thessaloniki derby Iraklis-Aris F.C., Aris' hooligans called Ierolohites invaded the pitch when the score was 2–1 for Iraklis. A football player Tasos Katsambis was injured during the clashes. The match was halted and Aris was punished with a 4-point deduction which led to their relegation to the Second Division. In April 2007, all sports stadiums were closed down in Greece for two weeks following the death of a fan in a pre-arranged fight between hooligans in Athens on 29 March. The fight involved 500 fans of rival Super League Greece clubs Panathinaikos, which is based in Athens, and Olympiacos, which is based in nearby Piraeus. The Greek government immediately suspended all team sports in Greece and severed the ties between teams and their supporters' organizations. A Third Division match between Panetolikos and Ilioupoli was stopped for thirty minutes when players and fans clashed following a Panetolikos disallowed goal. Two players and a coach were sent to the hospital.
On 18 April, rival fans clashed with each other and riot police in Ioannina during and after a Greek Cup semi-final match between local rivals PAS Giannena and Larissa. There was trouble during the game in which Larissa won 2–0. Fans set fire to rubbish bins and smashed shop windows, while police tried to disperse them by firing tear gas.
On 10 October 2009, a group of about 30 hooligans disrupted an "Under 17" match between local rivals PAOK and Aris Thessaloniki. Among the injured were a group of Aris Thessaloniki players and their coach, a veteran PAOK player and another official. On 7 October 2011, a group of Greek supporters firebombed the away section of a Euro 2012 qualifying match against Croatia in Athens. On 18 March 2012, during the match for the Super League Greek Championship in Athens Olympic Stadium between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, home team Panathinaikos's fans who were inside the stadium attacked police forces with Molotov bombs, causing extended damages to the stadium, while police forces were unable to keep peace.
On 5 January 2014, in Aigaleo, a suburb in Athens, the local team Aigaleo FC was hosting AEK Athens, a Third Division match. Before the match clashes broke up between AEK and Aigaleo fans. Indeed, the clashes resulted in the arrest of a security guard of the stadium who was accused of participating in the clashes among Aigaleo hooligans and also accused of committing attempted murder against an AEK fan.
On 15 September 2014, in Nea Alikarnassos, the team Herodotus was hosting Ethnikos Piraeus , a Third Division match. On 75' minute of the game, a clash between the supporters of the two clubs forced the referee to stop the match. During the clash, a 45-year-old supporter of Ethnikos Piraeus suffered a severe head injury and died two weeks later.
Local derbies between Budapest teams Ferencvárosi Torna Club (based in Ferencváros) and Újpest FC (based in Újpest) are frequently occasions for violence between supporters. Other clubs whose supporters are reportedly involved in hooliganism include Debreceni VSC (Debrecen), Diósgyőri VTK (Miskolc), Nyíregyháza Spartacus FC (Nyíregyháza), Zalaegerszegi TE (Zalaegerszeg), Haladás VSE (Szombathely) and Videoton FC (Székesfehérvár)
The term ultrà or ultras is used to describe hooligans in Italy.
In February 2001, A.S. Roma fans fought with police and Liverpool F.C. fans, and five English supporters were stabbed.
After a weekend of violence in January 2007, the president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) threatened to halt all league football. An official of amateur club Sammartinese died when he was caught up in a fight between players and fans in Luzzi, among numerous incidents of disorder in Florence, Bergamo and elsewhere. In February 2007 the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) suspended all football matches after Police Officer Filippo Raciti was killed at the match between Catania and Palermo when he was struck on his liver by a piece of lavatory of the stadium.
In a Euro 2016 qualifying match in Podgorica on 27 March 2015, a few seconds in, a hooligan threw a flare at Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev injuring him. The match was then temporarily suspended. Later fighting between the teams and more hooliganism rendered the game abandoned.
The earliest recorded case of hooliganism in the Netherlands occurred when Rotterdam club Feyenoord and English club Tottenham Hotspur met at the 1974 UEFA Cup Final, where Tottenham hooligans destroyed portions of the Feyenoord stadium tribunes. It was the first time the Netherlands encountered such destructive hooliganism. Other Dutch clubs associated with hooliganism include PSV Eindhoven, Ajax, FC Utrecht, FC Groningen, Twente Enschede and ADO Den Haag.
The most violent rivalry is between Ajax and Feyenoord. A particularly serious incident was the so-called "Battle of Beverwijk" on 23 March 1997, in which several people were seriously injured and one killed. The 2002–03 season was marked by similar incidents, and also by fighting between fans of Ajax and FC Utrecht.
Other serious incidents include:
- 16 June 1990, English fans were arrested for brawling before a World Cup match against the Netherlands in Italy.
- 26 April 1999, 80 hooligans were arrested for rioting after Feyenoord won the title after having played NAC Breda.
- 19 February 2015, Feyenoord hooligans attacked Italian police with glass bottles and firecrackers in Piazza di Spagna before Europa League match A.S. Roma-Feyenoord,28 Dutch fans were arrested.
Further information: Football hooliganism in Poland
One of the biggest riots occurred at a World Cup qualifying match between Poland and England on 29 May 1993 in Chorzów.
Arranged football hooligan fights in Poland are known as ustawki; they became common in Poland since the late 90s. On 30 March 2003, Polish police arrested 120 people after rival football supporters fought during a match between Śląsk Wrocław and Arka Gdynia. During the riot, hooligans pelted police officers with stones and fought a running battle with knives and axes. One victim was seriously injured and later died in hospital.
During the 1998–99 UEFA Cup, a knife was thrown at Italian footballer Dino Baggio, from Parma F.C. by Polish supporters (allegedly Wisła Kraków fans), injuring him in the head. Supporters of Legia Warszawa also attracted negative attention after in Lithuania during the match against Vetra Vilnius on 10 July 2007.
The most notable hooligan incidents happened in Kraków where supporters of the Wisła Kraków and KS Cracovia teams have a rivalry that reportedly extended to killings of opposing fans.
Country-wide riots involving football fans were seen in 1998 in Słupsk and 2015 in Knurów, both incidents sparked by a killing of a fan by the police.
Republic Of Ireland
Football Hooliganism was never an issue in Ireland up until the early 2000s and involved many pre match fights began to spawn in areas such as County Louth, Dublin and Derry. The behaviour of fans in these areas involved fights, racist chants and banners and many different pyrotechnic tools such as flares, smoke bombs and strobes. Often enough the away team and League of Ireland matches would be ganged up on by the home teams and attacked.
Football hooliganism has become prevalent in Russia since the beginning of the 2000s, Hooligans are associated with teams such as FC Spartak Moscow (Gladiators, Shkola, Union), FC Lokomotiv Moscow (Red-Green's, Vikings, BHZ, Trains Team), PFC CSKA Moscow (RBW, Gallant Steeds, Yaroslavka, Einfach Jugend), FC Dynamo Moscow (Capitals, 9-ka), FC Torpedo Moscow (Tubes, TroubleMakers) – all from Moscow – and FC Zenit Saint Petersburg (Music Hall, Coalition, Snakes Firm) from Saint Petersburg. Russian hooligans often show an underlying resentment towards Russia's perceived political rivals. At the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, 50 Russian fans were deported and the international team fined €150,000 following co-ordinated violent attacks.
The most prominent groups of hooligans are associated with Belgrade and Serbia's two main clubs, Partizan and Red Star Belgrade. They are known as the Grobari (Gravediggers) and Delije ("Heroes"), respectively. FK Rad is a less-successful Belgrade club, whose associated hooligans, known locally as "United Force", have notoriously been involved in many violent incidents. On 2 December 2007, a plainclothes police officer was seriously injured when he was attacked during a Serbian Superliga match between Red Star Belgrade and Hajduk Kula. On 14 April 2008 a football fan was killed near Novi Sad after clashes between FK Partizan's Grobari and fans of FK Vojvodina. That same week, after a Red Star Belgrade-Partizan cup match, three people were injured and a bus destroyed by hooligans.
On 19 September 2008 a Serbian football hooligan was sentenced to ten years in jail for an attack against a police officer at a Red Star Belgrade–Hajduk Kula game. On 12 October 2010 Serbia's Euro 2012 Qualifying clash with Italy was abandoned after only 6 minutes after several Serbian fans threw flares and fireworks onto the pitch and caused severe trouble in and out of the ground. Partizan Belgrade were disqualified from the UEFA Cup, after crowd trouble in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Partizan fans threw flares and stones and fought with supporters of Zrinjski Mostar and police. Fourteen Partizan fans were convicted for the murder of Toulouse FC fan Brice Taton in Belgrade. They attacked him and other fans with baseball bats and flares while wearing surgical masks. The hooligans received up to 35 years in prison.
Football hooliganism in Spain arises from three main sources. The first is racism, as some black players have been victims of ethnic slurs. Samuel Eto'o, a former FC Barcelona player from Cameroon, has denounced the problem.
The second source is the strong rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. After transferring from Barcelona to Real Madrid, Luís Figo's appearance in Barcelona's Nou Camp Stadium triggered a strong reaction. The crowd threw bottles, mobile phones and other things (including a pig's head). Although nobody was injured the match was followed by a large discussion on fan violence in the Spanish Primera División.
Hooliganism is also rooted in deep political divisions arising from the General Franco fascist regime days (some Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Espanyol, Real Betis Balompie or Valencia CF ultras are linked to franquista groups), the communist ones, (such as Deportivo La Coruña, Athletic Club Bilbao, Sevilla FC, Celta de Vigo, Rayo Vallecano) and the independentist movements in Catalonia (like FC Barcelona
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