By Ryan Fleming
Now, I’ve read books like “Among the Thugs” and seen movies such as “Green Street Hooligans” and both confused me more than guided me in answering the question: what is soccer hooliganism?
I thought I was a fan – an avid supporter of my team, watched every game or at least made it paramount within my things-to-do. I wore hats, shirts, jerseys – you name it, I wore it. I assumed that is what “fans” did.
Apparently I was grossly mistaken.
After watching movies and reading books all about hooligans and their actions my perceived assumption to what a fan was, was thrown out the window. For whatever reason people in all parts of the world, especially in Western Europe, feel it necessary to beat the living shit (excuse my language, but it is necessary) out of each to prove a point; sometimes even killing to do so. Whether it is to act like an animal and claim ones territory or to settle a longtime feud that most certainly won’t be mended with the next incident, hooliganism has lost its place.
Being reasonably new to the sport and the ethics, plays, and the exuberant amount of money that is thrown around, this came as the biggest shock. The first time I watched “Green Street,” I was complete taken aback by the violence that these men deem completely necessary.
What’s wrong with the usual banter and heckling?
Of course, there’s a time and place for that, too.
The cause for writing this article was the recent story I read on ESPN’s Soccernet.com that mentioned the rise of hooliganism in France. My first thought was filled with utter disbelief and I think a laugh snuck out, too.
Being from the United States, when I think of France and violence I almost laugh. I think people waving white flags basically. You can thank comics in newspapers and magazines for that.
It is one thing to start a donnybrook with another club’s supporters, but to fight someone who cheers for the same team as you just seems that more unnecessary and downright idiotic.
The topic of hooliganism is taking a great chunk of the glory away from Bordeaux and Lyon who advanced to the next stage of the Champions League and are deserving of more praise than what they are receiving.
It’s about time we let the players do the talking on the pitch.
Ryan Fleming is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.