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Football hooliganism was once thought of purely as an "English disease. Since the 1970s and the 1980s English fans, both at home and abroad have suffered from a justified reputation as violent hooligans. The reputation of English fans reached its lowest point after the Heysel stadium disaster in 1985 when hooligan activity by Liverpool fans caused part of the stadium to collapse which killed 39 Juventus supporters at the European Cup Final. Since this incident the problem of football hooliganism has become more widespread in other European countries. This is particularly the case in Italy and Holland where there has been a remarkable growth in the amount of hooligan related activity. In particular groups like the Lazio ultras have been involved in violence with other fans and racial abuse. There is also a new threat of violence from the Eastern European states, in particular Poland and Hungary. There has been a move away from the traditional image associated with the 1970s and 1980s of the Saturday afternoon fight between two groups of supporters in or around the stadium their teams were playing in to large organised fights well away from the match. There has also been a decline in the traditional idea of the hooligan firm for example the Chelsea headhunters or the West Ham Inter City firm. It is now more likely that hooligans will meet and fight in areas of open ground, well away from stadiums and their associated police presence. These fights are often organised over the Internet and using mobile phones in order to arrange locations so the police do not know where the fights will happen. There are also political motivations behind the activities of some hooligan groups and many have far right sympathies. In the 1980s English hooligans were linked with groups like Combat 18 and the National Front. These right wing beliefs are also prevalent in other European states, one particular example are the Lazio ultras in Italy who are renowned for the racial abuse they give black players and their support for the former right wing regime in Yugoslavia.

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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