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Football Hooliganism


What do Milan, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Charleroi, Marseilles, Warsaw, Hong Kong, Kurdistan, Leipzig, Brunei, Palo Alto, Shiraz and Nairobi have in common with Rochdale, London, Burnley, Sheffield and Burton on Trent? They have all had incidents of hooliganism in the last year. Although Hooliganism is most readily associated with supporters of English teams it is not exclusively an English based or influenced problem. Other countries also produce hooligans. In fact, in the early 1960s the English league did not want to participate in European club competition due to the perceived threat from foreign supporters. Although English supporters seem to be more likely to cause trouble abroad, there are serious problems in countries including Holland, Germany, Italy and Spain. Hooligans from these countries are also starting to be active in other countries. This can be seen in recent European tournaments where German hooliganism was as much a problem as English hooliganism. German hooliganism has a particularly bad reputation as its groups are linked to far right organisations that have become more prevalent since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Many football grounds have become a no go area for non-Germans. Groups like the ultras, who support different clubs in Italy, are also starting to gain a worse reputation for football violence than their English counterparts. A Leeds United fan was stabbed in Milan before a Champions league game in November and Bologna fans recently fought with police and set fire to cars in a car park. Other countries have also been affected. In France recently, an assistant referee was hit by a firecracker during a football match in Strasbourg. Holland has also been affected with Den Bosch supporters rioting for three days after a match was called off after a fan was shot. Problems in Europe come to a head when hooligans from different countries meet up for World Cups and European Championships. It is no surprise that the only major football tournament, held in recent years not to be scarred by violence was the 1994 World Cup in the USA. The European Championships in 1988 in Germany, in 1992 in Sweden, in 1996 in England and in 2000 in Holland and Belgium have all been marred by hooliganism. This has also affect the 1990 and 1998 World Cups held in Italy and France respectively. Hooliganism is not an English problem, it is a European, and on a greater level, a world problem.

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Created by James Rowlands on Dreamweaver for The Politics of Policing Transnational Crime, University of Exeter 2001. E-mail J.P.Rowlands@exeter.ac.uk