When obsessed sports fanatics turn violent
Hooliganism” is defined by the Politics Newspaper as “disorderly, aggressive and often violent behavior perpetrated by spectators at sporting events.” Basically, they are the ones that are the loudest, most dressed up and rambunctious in the crowd.
From the start of the game to the last second, the thrill of a soccer game takes a toll on everyone. Referees and fans alike analyze everything. If anything, the fans appreciate the sport. When a team wins, there are cheers of pride and excitement. However when a team loses, many faces in the crowd drop, and some resort to booing. These disappointed faces soon come in contact with proud fans of the other team. It soon becomes an international, chaotic and downhill spiral known as soccer hooliganism.
In a July 2014 article in The Atlantic, sports safety and security expert, Steve Frosdick stated regarding soccer violence “‘from the 1960s to the 1980s, we [saw] a move from spontaneous incidents of soccer-related disorder in the U.K. to organized viciousness…’” Since then, violence from sports gave the media a lot to report on. Yet as violent as U.K. fans can be, they aren’t the only ones.
Top Bet magazine mentioned the top three worst fans during the World Cup of 2014 were Argentina, England and Brazil.
Anyone who has experienced a soccer game has possibly experienced how extremely violent its fans can be. In a 2010 Mother Jones article written by Kevin Drum, Ilya Somin suggests the reason for sports violence is “namely that soccer is strongly associated with nationalism.” Similarly, Drum also quoted David Post, who said, “Soccer’s like life, and people care about it the way they care about their lives.” Both pride in one’s nation and personal passion is enough for fans to participate in hooliganism.
In a March 2015 article on the Bleacher Report, Andrew Nicholls, an English soccer hooligan reformed, describes the reason he became a hooligan in the first place, “Simple answer: the buzz.” Later on he wrote, “Football was one of the only hobbies available to young, working-class kids, and at the football game, you were either a hunter or the hunted.”
People participating in soccer hooliganism can face many consequences. Some of these repercussions would be getting arrested on the spot, facing jail time, seriously injury or death. Depending how rowdy the fans get, a soccer game can cease. A recent ceasing of a game happened in April 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia. According to The Wall Street Journal, fans threw lit flares and metal objects onto the field. Many fans were seriously injured and brought to the hospitals.
The thing about hooliganism is that it’s everywhere. In their “2015’s Best & Worst Cities for Soccer Fans” article, Wallethub states the most friendly and engaged MLS Fans were in Orlando, Florida. The least friendly and engaged MLS Fans were from New York City. Though American fans can be violent, they don’t compare to other countries. In their article in The Wall Street Journal, Naftali Bendavid wrote, “Violence has long surrounded European soccer, but recent figures — and some extreme, headline-grabbing examples — suggest it may be getting worse, driven by Europe’s economic struggles and what’s seen as an accompanying rise in nationalism and racism.”
Recently, soccer has been in the media in two respects. An example of positive hooliganism was seen just this past summer. The United States Women’s National Team won the FIFA World Cup. In the ensuing parade, every person was cheering as loud as they could when the team passed by the streets on floats.
A recent act of negative hooliganism was seen on Aug. 9, 2015. The Red Bull NY and NYC FC soccer teams faced off. However, before the actual game started, fans went crazy in the streets of Newark, New Jersey. After a pre-game celebration at a Bello’s Pub and Grill, a local bar that is close to the stadium, violence occurred on the streets outside. Fans used different weapons such as a sandwich board and took part in the fight.
Overall, this obsession comes not only from pride in one’s team but also in one’s nation. The obsession to participate in soccer hooliganism asserts this belief that fans will do whatever it takes to show how dedicated they are to the sport. Soccer hooliganism at soccer games can range from a positive and supporting vibe to an extreme, out-of-control environment.
Amanda Emmer is a sophomore IMC major who finds cage fighting indereing. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.