Football Hooliganism: When Fans become Furious

There are days when soccer matches turn violent. Experts say that most of the times it is not the match that contributes to the violence but there are also other factors at play. People are already motivated when they come to watch a match and something very trivial can trigger chaos.

Exeter University’s Professor Anthony King has written two books looking at the transformation of football and fan culture in the UK and Europe.

“Hooliganism is not caused by what goes on on the pitch, although it can be a factor in the intimidation and can precipitate violence.

“If there’s a late goal, like there was last night, a sense of disappointment and grievance is heightened, and conversely a sense of euphoria on the other side.

“A bad foul on a player can have the same effect.

“All you need is a small group of motivated people – the men involved can’t be seen to be backing down from their mutually avowed rivalry.”

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Football hooliganism has cost people their lives. Families have lost their loved ones out of foolish chaos. Others got severe injuries. History has kept a record of all these actions and the problem is that the future never seems to learn from the past because as the years go by the number of deaths caused by hooliganism seem to increase.

Burnden Park Disaster

Death Toll: 33

At Burnden Park, a game between the Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City was taking place when a wall collapsed, crushing spectators and starting a stampede which killed 33 people. More than 400 others were injured. The crowd was more than 85,000 people. The tragedy was thought to have started when some 20,000 fans locked outside broke down the gates and forced their way in. At the time, this was the biggest tragedy in British football history, until the Ibrox Park disaster at Rangers’ home ground in 1971

Ellis Park Stadium Disaster

Death Toll: 43

The lesson of the Orkney tragedy was not learned. Ten years after that event, on April 11th, 2001, spectators poured into the Ellis Park Stadium for another match between the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. There was already a 60,000 capacity crowd in the stadium, but reports suggest a further 30,000 fans were still trying to gain entry to the stadium. Reports also suggest that 120,000 fans were admitted.

As the crowd surged to gain seats, they spilled into the press boxes. The resulting stampede crushed 43 people to death. Apparently untrained security guards fired tear gas at the crowd, making the situation worse.

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Will football hooligans get away with their crimes? This kind of behavior can no longer be tolerated and the authorities concerned are trying to come up with stern measures to see that the persons responsible are put behind bars.


Football is the most popular sport in the world and has a huge fan base around the globe. While most fans enjoy the tournaments peacefully and create a wonderful atmosphere, football hooligans abuse these games with their unruly, violent, and destructive behaviour. These acts often constitute criminal offences, which include not only hooliganism, but also a range of crime, including ticket fraud and drug crime.

Because the suspects often come from foreign countries and evidence will also have to be obtained from abroad, there is a need for smooth international cooperation, not only at police level but also between the involved prosecutors and judicial authorities.

The meeting was proposed by Eurojust to assist Member States in organising the UEFA European Championships in 2016 and 2020 and to develop best practice on how to manage football fans who commit crime across borders. The UEFA 2020 tournament will take place in 13 cities across the continent (Munich, Dublin, London, Glasgow, Baku, Copenhagen, Budapest, St. Petersburg, Rome, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Brussels and Bilbao), and, in this regard, the smooth functioning of judicial cooperation in criminal matters at international level will be more important than ever.

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