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Why Is Hooliganism a Big Part of Football?
Aug 6, 2020, 1:05:00 AM

Why Is Hooliganism a Big Part of Football?

Hooliganism in football has always been present since the early days of the game. There is a lot of violence involved in many historic matches. It has been there for decades and still continues to thrive even in the modern era of football. Some say it is a key part of the game.

Some say that it is a disorderly, violent and destructive act of football fans in the game. Hooliganism stretches from conflicts between rival gangs (more known as firms in the English setting) up to massive fan stampedes. Many of these firms are formed in support of their respective clubs in the game while also serving the purpose of these fights.

Usually, these fights take place at no given time. You might just get to see it before, during, or even after the game. Some firms do actually tend to watch the game first before lashing out against the other side, while many of the other firms just do the fighting and value the game less.

Hooliganism can be misunderstood sometimes. Football is a sport loved by many people, and there are definitely a lot of fans for each club. Of course, rivalries cannot be avoided especially in cities where there are two to three teams. It even stretches from the local leagues up to the national level - which can be proven by some FIFA matches back then.

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Football is simply notorious for hooliganism thanks to their fans, and some even take it to the next level. Crimes range from a simple brawl up to hardcore stabbings amid the games of their respective clubs. It is not something you see every day as it takes many firms to gather and stage those huge fan clashes.

Who are the most violent football fans?

There isn’t really a top club to name with the most violent football fans, but then there are some clubs that have taken the fight to the next level and have left a bad image in history. This includes AS Roma, Sparta Prague, Barcelona, Millwall, Partizan Belgrade, Red Star Belgrade, Galatasaray, Universitario de Deportes, Wisla Krakow, and Al-Masry.

AS Roma has seen the stabbings even in the fortress city of Rome. It can be remembered that they ambushed away fans and a television crew back in the 2001 UEFA Cup when Liverpool visited the club. Sparta Prague has seen violent clashes with other clubs as well whenever they have a fixture, rallying and covering the streets with thick numbers of fans and mowing down fans from other clubs.

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Barcelona isn’t exempted on this one, as their fans were involved in stabbing incidents as well while branding death threats even to their own club president Joan Laporta back in 2003. The club’s issues are usually with the number of trophies and Lionel Messi.

Belgrade has seen the worst of hooliganism as well. It is home to the fierce rivalry between Partizan and Red Star, and violence is almost a regular occurrence. They had a clash back in 2013 that resulted in a lot of injuries and a couple of people who ended up in critical condition - all for the love of football. The worst thing to happen was the death of a Toulouse fan back in 2009.

Does Millwall still have a firm?

Millwall is said to be the birth of football hooliganism back in the 1960s and is known for strong violence among rival clubs. There’s a lot of violence in the clubs back then, and Millwall is known for using everything they can find - from crashed bottles up to even hand grenades - in staging clashes with other fans.

Their loss in a playoff semifinal against Birmingham City in 2002 saw them taking out their anger on other fans and police officers. That resulted in the injuries of 47 police officers and 24 police horses and an untallied number of Birmingham City fans.

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The Millwall Bushwackers remain to be prominent up to this day. They are the most notorious firm that is linked with Millwall FC. They have been regarded as the most violent firm many times thanks to their fearsome reputation when it comes to violence.

Hooliganism became widespread in England back in the 1960s, and Millwall was on top of it. There were a lot of brawls - both inside and outside of football stadiums, as well as pre-set clashes in the streets with other firms as if it was a war. The Old Den - which was Millwall’s stadium back then - was closed five times thanks to those acts and the club also received many fines for crowd disorder.

Millwall still has a firm - although they are not that dangerous as they have been back in the day. In April 2013, Millwall battled against Wigan Athletic in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and was defeated, 2-0. By the end of the match, violence broke out once more in the stands allocated to Millwall fans, and that led to 14 arrests with two of those being Wigan supporters.

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Who is the hardest football firm in England?

There is no need to look further when it comes to the hardest football firm. Hooliganism was somehow suppressed in the 2000s, and yet the Leeds United Service Crew, Red Army, Naughty Forty, Zulu Warriors, Inter City Firm, Chelsea Headhunters, and the Bushwackers remain at large up to this day.

Over the past two seasons, more than 1,000 fixtures have been affected by the incidents caused by the firms. Millwall remains to be the hardest of them all with over 62 arrests relating to football disorder incidents.

Football is a game loved by many, and some are even living their lives just for their clubs. That simply proves how intense and prominent the sport is all over the world.

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Words: Paul Daniel Flores

Image: PA