Who are hooligans and why do they do it? Discuss the latest theories.
Football hooligans are noisy, violent people who want to make trouble. Evidence suggests that most of these hooligans are in their late teens or early 20's. And also that they come from mainly working class backgrounds. It is also suggested that generally hooligans are from low-income occupations- some are unemployed or are working in a poor economy.
Hooliganism is actually non-violent. Hooliganism involves verbally abusing rival fans, threatening them with attack and most of the time they aim to have a laugh. Although seem of them do seem more interested in fighting rival groups who are, like themselves, looking for trouble.
What is the motivation of the hooligans? There are many theories for this. The main reason is said to be the risk and excitement involved in hooliganism drives people (esp. them who are in their late teens or early 20's). For example, the British sociologist Paul Willis (sociologist analytical theory) talks about the tension involved in the fight situations and the risk in these attractive situations is what makes them do it. The sociological approach also states that male hooligans are formed because young men are expected to be able to look after themselves. Fights can be prepared for and enjoyed, not only because of the risk in it but also because of how these fights make the hooligans feel cool and masculine (i.e. manly). Young men like these defend their own, their gang's, and their town's reputation against similar rivals who are aimed at playing against their hosts. Most of this engagement is about insulting and verbally abusing opposing fans, but core hooligans also enjoy a fight when they can get one.
Not only this, but the rewards involved in such activities like the loyalty and the entertainment you get from hooligan involvement is very valuable for these young men whose opportunities for status and excitement from other ways are very limited. Heavy drinking, for example, is often considered having a good day out. Hence hooligans do this to get status and loyalty in the society also.
The sociological approach also states that hooligans behave in this manner to act cool and to show-off (i.e. get attention). For example hooligans come wearing very fashionable casuals and try to compete with their hooligan rivals on the means of stylish and expensive clothing. The socialist approach also tells us to read the act of hooliganism as a form of resistance to the intrusion of more middle class sensibilities1 into sport and local cultures.
The anthropology approach is more bent towards the theory that hooliganism is performed because of its attractions as social drama and the opportunity it provides for a sense of belonging, for competition and risk, achieving honor and throwing shame on rivals.
Another approach/theory is the social-psycological one, which is based more on the meaning of the activity itself than on the social background of those involved. They see hooliganism as an example of the search for a peak experience, which is an intense, emotional experience not usually, encountered in everyday life. Peak experiences allow for an open expression of collective emotionality: an outpouring of joy or sadness, and a strengthening of a common social identity via suporting a team. Hooligans, like other fans, seek peak experiences through their involvement in football.
These were the three theories for why do hooligans do what they do. All of these theories are convincing though we still do not have all the data required to agree or disagree with the statement.
Do only the English Produce Hooligans?
No. There have been many cases of hooligan violence in other countries- even the more serious ones. Some examples would be:
* In December 2000 a match between Strasbourg and Metz in the French First Division was abandoned because an assistant referee was injured by a firecracker.
* In Italy, hooligan groups known as 'ultra's' clashed with rival firms and the police.
* In Greece, AEK Athens were banned from playing in their own stadium for four matches after their fans threw missiles and invaded the pitch during a Greek Cup tie with Olympiakos.
* Perhaps the most serious football-crowd disorder takes place in Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and South America where serious crowd rioting is much more common place than in the U.K.
So it is not only UK who suffers from these troublemakers. Most of the world does.
Is their hooliganism in other sports?
Yes. Certainly there is. Hooliganism at sports like boxing, rugby league and cricket provoke very regular panics about the behavior of spectators. There have been disturbances even at horseracing competitions. But the difference is that hooliganism at football gets lots of newspaper coverage while the others don't. And nor are these problems as routinised as they seem to be at football.
I have seen hooliganism in Cricket myself in a match between England and India in India where some people started throwing water bottles (known as water missiles) and other stuff on the English cricket players. As we have read from the theories, the main of hooligan-like behavior is to get loyalties, be honored, and be involved in risk. Though the difference was that since it was an International match in India- there was no hooligan in the rivalry.
Hooliganism is not tied to a sport as I said. Hooligans disturb matches because of the many reasons I have explained from the three different theories.
Why is hooliganism linked to football?
Well, I think that hooliganism is related to football simply because of the explanation given by the social theory and the others. The socail-pyschological theory tells us that these football fans have a passion for football. Hooliganism is a way to search for a peak experience, which is an intense, emotional experience not usually encountered in everyday life. Peak experiences allow for an open expression of collective emotionality: an outpouring of joy or sadness, and a strengthening of a common social identity via suporting a team.
And since football is the world's most popular and one of the most intense sports it has got more advertisement in that manner. Hooliganism in football would hence be the easiest and best way to get loyalties, raise your status, have a peak experience and have risks. This is what I believe.
Does drink have a part?
Yes, but not all the time. In the English society, drinking heavily is considered being manly. Males of all social classes are often encouraged to celebrate special occasions with their male friends by drinking to excess. Football trips abroad seem regularly to involve male fans drinking heavily together in situations where drink is cheap and easily available. On occasions like this, situations can get out of control because Englishmen placed in an unfamiliar, and perhaps threatening culture have had too much to drink. This may increase the chances of serious hooliganism.
However, it cannot be said that drink is the cause of hooliganism- yes, it can make it worse.
Are political groups involved?
There is no real evidence that such organizations are actively and effectively controlling hooliganism in England or anywhere else. Though yes, there are rumors, which cannot be, carried true until and unless evidence is provided.
What is the role of the media?
It is true that newspapers report on football using the language which seems to derive more from the world of war than it does from sport. Maybe this helps to heighten rivalries between opposing fan groups. And my sources also inform me that so do the predictions newspapers sometimes used to make that trouble is likely to occur between rival fans. Media coverage of hooligan activities worked at promoting if not causing hooliganism. The main reason for this which comes to my mind is that since the hooligans are doing this to get honored and be involved in risk (using the theories) media coverage will amplify and multiply the effects and its significance.
After answering these questions I can discuss a lot on whether I agree or disagree with the statement that "It's easy to become a football hooligan!" Well, it is not easy to become a football hooligan- (from the theories we have) the situations and mental conditions of a person have to be very in a particular way to be a hooligan. In the below paragraphs (and some of the paragraphs I have already written) you will get to know from me that I do agree with the statement and I don't also.
It is easy to become a football hooligan only if the situations are perfect i.e. you are mentally down, you want to be entertained- to be noticed, to be involved in risk, you want loyalties, you want to act cool or you deeply love your football club (which is the least chance for a person to become a hooligan).
Also it depends upon which nationality or culture you are from. For example the Indian culture doesn't encourage us to drink (which may make situations worse) nor does it encourage us to get involved into fights of some kind. Generally it is very rare for Asians (i.e. Eastern hemisphere) to get involved in these hooligan fights.
Not only this, but it depends upon the stable mentality of the person- if you are not mentally stable and are looking for attention- hooligan behavior might be the answer for your prayers. Also it matters what your status is in the society. If you are at a high post- fights and verbal abuses including so much life risk would not be the thing you would want to do- this may hurt your reputation.
It is generally found that youths (late teens and early twenties) are the ones involved in such activity. This is because of the mental imbalances going on in their mind and how they react to what they see in the society. If you live in an environment where there is some existence of shame and security, a person would not get involved in such activities, (which is again found widely in the Eastern Hemisphere).
If you looked at what the sociological theory is closely: The rewards involved in such activities like the loyalty and the entertainment you get from hooligan involvement is very valuable for these young men whose opportunities for status and excitement from other ways are very limited.
Now, if you get opportunities and excitement and the involvement in risk (if required) from other ways (excelling in studies, participating in state or club teams and gaining reputation etc.) these activities will not at all be necessary to do.
There is some affect of how you are brought up and what environment you live in. Peer pressure comes into play. And so do so many other factors.
What I mean to say is that it depends upon how you are suppressed under the factors i.e. are all the factors positive to say that your requirements are of one to become a hooligan. It is very hard to answer this question that why some young men, rather than others, might find this sort of activity attractive and rewarding. Nor is it clear why, at particular times and in particular kinds of societies or in particular places, hooliganism of this kind should become so attractive. What my opinion is that things should match with those in the theories to give us some sense of realization that this person might be a hooligan because of these reasons. It is not easy to become a hooligan but it is not hard also.