Soccer is a unique sport for a variety of different reasons. From being the most followed game in the world to hosting some of the largest sporting events of all time, there are a lot of reasons that soccer stands out amongst other sports, but perhaps one of the strangest is the soccer hooligans: groups of people that are so zealous about the game that many of their escapades in history have boiled down to unmitigated violence and chaos.
Soccer hooligans are completely unique to the game, and while it’s common to find groups of superfans that are attracted to a specific type of sport, none are quite as famous or as feared as the hooligan groups that are almost always found in the United Kingdom.
Here we will look at the history of soccer hooligans and how their ancient origins led to the creation of the groups that we know today.
Origins of The Soccer Hooligan
Most historians agree that the world’s first hooligans started during Medieval England, a time when soccer was only beginning to gain popularity around the country as a fun pastime for the poorer working-class men. This was a time of extreme violence, where public executions were common, along with plenty of war and famine. The game was usually played between two neighbouring villages and was very often used as a means of settling a dispute, especially when it came to claiming land. The youth would play the game in order to win the dispute, but it would very often descend into anarchy when anyone was caught cheating, or the opposite team didn’t agree with the outcome of a game.
This was, of course, exacerbated by heavy drinking, which has always been closely associated with soccer and its events, and always contributed to the excessive violence that would occur. By the time the 14th century had come around, the game had been outright banned in many areas of the United Kingdom due to the fact that group fighting would often lead to death and injury of both the players and those attending the games.
Modern Soccer Hooligans
Hooligans would be a main feature of the game for the next few hundred years, but it wouldn’t be until the 1970s that the groups’ tendencies toward violence began to get out of control. This was around the time when the groups began to get organised, and would usually follow closely with the more well-known clubs, such as Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea, to name just a few, many of which have become popular among fun gaming sites.
In 1982, a riot that broke out during a match between West Ham and Arsenal saw a supported being killed and countless millions in damages, but this proved to only be the starting point for hooliganism. Over the next decade, riots would become a common occurrence at the larger events, and police became a frequent feature. Eventually, however, hooliganism would start to calm down thanks to government intervention, and has since become something of the past, although outbreaks do still occur.