“I have never lived closer to danger, but have never felt safer. I have never felt more confident, and people can spot it from a mile away.”
-Matt Bucker, played by Elijah Wood in Green Street Hooligans
(2005), on his affiliation with football “gang”.
The beautiful game has been so often marred by hooliganism
all throughout its illustrious history. This is more so the case in Europe, particularly Britain, where the footballing culture is so heavily intertwined with gangs (colloquially known as firms) and thuggery. The prevalence of which was highlighted in
the 2005 film, Green Street Hooligans, starring Elijah Wood. Although the presence of these brutish organizations have diminished greatly over the last 10 or so years, given heavier involvement of the law in footballing affairs, pockets of these unruly bunch still persist in the dark crevices that envelope the heart of football.
Prior to the mammoth showdown on the 15th September 2011 between Manchester United and Liverpool at Anfield, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has warned the visiting Red Devil fans to cut their ill antics or risk forfeiting more tickets to catch away games. Encounters of the two most supported English teams in the world have always been less than amiable, especially between the fans. In the article carried by The Straits Times titled “Behave or risk more away ticket cuts, Fergie tells fans”,
8th Oct 2011, states that United away games ticket ration have suffered last season presumably due to the shenanigans by visiting fans. Already the Guardian has reported that the usual allocation of 3,000 tickets to the visiting team has been slashed to paltry
1,960 for Man Utd fans in a stadium which will seat almost 50,000.
Unsporting behavior and often violent by fans has always been
a cause for concern for local authorities. The cause for the “gang” culture here is not surprising if you understand the English way of life. Donald Klopf defines culture as “the part of the environment made by humans”. The Brits are immensely proud of their
football (a sport they created) and most are brought up supporting a particular
team whom they will later learn to cry, then “die” for. Insulting a person’s team can be akin to affronting his or her religion thus the traditional Englishman is very willing to draw blood if he finds his team to be inappropriately taken.
Throughout the years the authorities have been trying to subdue
hooliganism but this has proved very tough in a sport where the heart often
rules the head. Measures have been taken to repress such behavior and one such is the imposing of ticket penalties to clubs. However, I feel such penalties are
unfair to the majority of the fans as it’s usually only a small portion of the
population that are out to stir trouble. While most fans go out to support their team, hooligans go out with the intention of causing grievous hurt to their rivals even before anyone has kicked the ball. These are the people that should be banned from travelling with the team and its supporters. This unruly bunch, who in the principle of
collectivity (as opposed to individualism), operate much like a gang or disorganized
syndicate, are the blokes responsible for turning an entertaining afternoon at
the games into a dance with death peppered with rampaging riots.
“You don’t run, not when you’re with us. You stand your ground and fight!”
-Pete Hunham, played by Charlie Hunnam, on Matt Bucker
(Elijah Wood) prior to his first football brawl.
Now I am a big football fan, and for those who are unsure of
who Manchester United and Liverpool are—well to put it simply, Manchester
United has been the reigning champions of English football for the last 20
years while Liverpool is the deluded old war veteran who keeps going on about
his good old days back in his prime. I want to be watching football games for a long time and the last thing I’d want is for travelling fans to be disallowed at cheering on their team away from home. I’m sure the feistiness and the provocation of
the whole match-day affair to be exciting but the line has to be drawn when
antics get disruptive and violent. Hopefully the bad eggs can be removed from the basket before the basket is done away with completely.