3.13. Discussion Topics.

Have you ever had a similar experience? What do you know about hooligans?  What type of people do you think they are? What motivates these people to do what they usually do? Why do you think it is that most football hooligans have jobs and are from well-off middle class backgrounds? Does your country suffer from similar problems?

We should first consider what a hooligan is. The word has become synonymous with football, but the term can be applied to almost anyone who behaves badly, drinks excessively, fights, destroys things, causes trouble, etc. Britain has quite a reputation now for hooligans, yobos and troublemakers, and deservedly so. It perhaps has something to do with our temperament, or our Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Nordic blood. British people do have a capacity for aggressiveness, boisterousness and a have-a-go attitude. This can be seen throughout British history. But the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality of the British Isles is seen in excessive aggression in sport and leisure pastimes, as well as in the work place. Let’s get back to the original question.


Who are these people? Where do they come from?

Hooliganism is certainly nothing new. There were cases of rival football gangs fighting each other and causing disturbances in England and Scotland over one hundred years ago! The modern British hooligan typically comes from a well-off or semi-respectable background. There is the idea that these people are unemployed, illiterate, drug-takers, but this is not usually the case. The most notorious hooligans are almost always working men who are often married with children, and commonly live in respectable middle class parts of town or in the suburbs. Following your football team from city to city, or country to country, and drinking all that beer is an expensive business! Many other countries suffer from similar problems, and it could be argued that nowadays the British are not the worst hooligans, and are often antagonised just because of their bad reputation. This isn’t in any way an excuse for their behaviour.


The solution? It might be pointed out that the mentality of football hooligans is a strange one, which has as its target other hooligans and the authorities. The victims of hooliganism are usually other hooligans, and not innocent bystanders.  Interestingly, one of the methods of reducing violence against the authorities in British football grounds was to remove the police from sight and put stewards in their place. Stewards are fellow members of the public and football fans, and therefore, not a target.


It would be go good idea to mention the misuse of certain English words among foreign speakers. There is a difference between a fan and a fanatic. The first is a genuine follower who loves their team, group, star etc. The word fanatic has, at times, negative connotations, being a person who is obsessively fond of something or someone.  A supporter is a synonym of fan and refers positively to sports. It is not a synonym of hooligan as it has become know in many European countries.