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"Soccer riot" redirects here. For a list of notable incidents of rioting, see List of soccer stampede disasters.

Disorderly, violent or destructive behaviour perpetrated by spectators at association football events

Football hooliganism or soccer hooliganism[1] is disorderly, violent or destructive behaviour perpetrated by spectators at association football events.[2]

Football hooliganism normally involves conflict between gangs, in English known as football firms (the term is derived from the British slang for a criminal gang), formed for the purpose of intimidating and physically attacking supporters of other teams. Other English-language terms commonly used in connection with hooligan firms include "army", "boys", "bods", "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 stadiums to avoid arrest by the police, but conflict can also erupt spontaneously inside the stadium or in the surrounding streets.[3][4] 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.[5] Hooligan-led violence has been called "aggro" (short for "aggression") 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.

Early history

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.[8] 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.[9]

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".[8] 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.[8]

Although instances of football crowd violence and disorder have been a feature of association football throughout its history[10] (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,[11] 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.[12]

Causes

Football hooliganism has factors in common with juvenile delinquency and what has been called "ritualized male violence".[13] 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."[14] 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.[14]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).[15] Other deep division undertones in a match such as religion, ethnic, and class play a part as well in hooliganism.[16]

As an attempt to explain the hooliganism phenomena in Brazil, Nepomuceno and other scholars at Federal University of Pernambuco has assessed 1363 hooligan incidents before and after an alcohol sanction enforced during 8 years. While alcohol presented low evidence to contribute for the incidents of violence, the knockout phases, finals, competitiveness (derby matches), small score boundaries and the pride levels were some of the potentials for the violence among sports spectators. Months after the work being conducted, the State Legislature of Pernambuco decided to abolish the sanction to allow alcohol intake in stadiums.[17] Writing for the BBC in 2013,[18] 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.

Europe

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.[20]

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.[21]

Hooliganism has also been present in lower leagues.[22] Riots have been common in Jablanica because fans of different clubs tend to meet and clash there.[23]

Croatia

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.[5] Two of the best known hooligan firms are Torcida (Hajduk Split) and Bad Blue Boys (Dinamo Zagreb).[24] 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 organised 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,[5] although the racist remarks, if any appear, are aimed solely to the opposing club's players, never to one's own squad.[citation needed]

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.[25]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[26] 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 eight police officers 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.[citation needed] 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.[27][28]

Cyprus

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".[29] The two clubs in Limassol, AEL Limassol and Apollon Limassol have also been involved in numerous incidents, especially in recent years.[30][31][32][33]

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.[34][35][36][37] In May 2009 APOEL fans entered the Omonia stand and engaged in fistfights with Omonia fans eventually throwing one down the stand stairs.[38] 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.[39]

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.[40] The Limassol rivalry between Apollon and AEL Limassol is more a matter of what team dominates over the city.[41] 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.[41]

France

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.[42] 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 when a Marseille fan was seriously injured by a projectile.[43]

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.[44][45] 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.[46] 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.[46][47][48]

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.[49] 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.[49] 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.[50][51]

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".[42] 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.[52] Because of this, both countries were given a disqualification warning soon later.[53] 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.[54]

Germany

Some football hooliganism in Germany has been linked to neo-Nazism and far right groups.[55] 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.[56] A German fan was arrested in 1998 and charged with attempted murder[57][58] and in 1999, four more Germans were convicted in the attack[59][60] 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.[61]

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.[62][63] 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.[64]

In June 2006, Germany beat Poland in a World Cup 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.[65] In October 2006, a task force was established to deal with violence and racism in German football stadiums.[66] 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.[67][68] 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.[69] 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.[70]

Greece

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. rioted 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