Football hooliganism can be seen as something of an easy target’ for the media. With journalists present at every match across the country, the chances of a story being missed are slim. TV cameras also mean that disturbances within stadiums are caught on video. Since the 1960s, in fact, journalists have been sent to football matches to report on crowd behaviour, rather than just the game 1. The British tabloid press in particular have an enthusiastic’ approach to the reporting of soccer violence, with sensationalist headlines such as “Smash These Thugs! , “Murder on a Soccer Train! ” (Sun), “Mindless Morons” and “Savages! Animals! ” (Daily Mirror)
2. Whilst open condemnation of hooligans is the norm across the media, it has been argued that this sensationalist style of reporting presents football violence as far more of a concern than it actually is, elevating it to a major social problem’. The problem of press sensationalism was recognised in the 1978 Report on Public Disorder and Sporting Events, carried out by the Sports Council and Social Science Research Council.
It observed that: “It must be considered remarkable, given the problems of contemporary Britain, that football hooliganism has received so much attention from the Press. The events are certainly dramatic, and frightening for the bystander, but the outcome in terms of people arrested and convicted, people hurt, or property destroyed is negligible compared with the number of people potentially involved. ” Furthermore, some critics argue that media coverage of hooliganism has actually contributed to the problem . More recently, the popular press has been criticised for it’s pre-match reporting during the 1996 European Championships.
History Press boxes were first installed at football matches in the 1890s, although the reporting of football matches goes back considerably further than this. The study by Murphy, Dunning and Williams 3 shows that disorder was a regular occurrence at football matches before the First World War, and newspaper reports of trouble were common. However, the style of reporting was a long way away from the coverage which hooliganism receives today. Most reports before the First World War were made in a restrained fashion.
Little social comment was made and the articles were small and factual, often placed under a heading such as Football Association Notes’ 4. ” … Loughborough had much the best of matters and the Gainsborough goal survived several attacks in a remarkable manner, he end coming with the score: Loughborough, none Gainsborough, none The referee’s decisions had caused considerable dissatisfaction, especially that disallowing a goal to Loughborough in the first half, and at the close of the game he met with a very unfavourable reception, a section of the crowd hustling him and it was stated that he was struck.
5 It is hard to imagine a present day report of an incident such as this being written with such impartiality and lack of concern. During the inter-war years, the style of reporting began to change. As newspapers gave more space to advertising, stories had to be onsidered more for their newsworthiness’ than before. What is interesting to note about Murphy et al’s study here is that they argue that the press facilitated (consciously or not) the view that football crowds were becoming more orderly and well behaved by underplaying, or just not reporting, incidents which did occur.
At the same time, however, a small amount of concern and condemnation began to creep in to reports. This trend continued for a decade or so after the Second World War and it is this period which is often referred to as football’s hey-day: a time of large, enthusiastic, but well-behaved crowds. Murphy et l argue that this was not necessarily the case and that although incidents of disorder were on the decrease, those that did occur often went un- reported. The roots of today’s style of reporting of football violence can be traced back to the mid 1950s.
At a time when there was widespread public fear over rising juvenile crime and about youth violence in general, the press began to carry more and more stories of this nature and football matches were an obvious place to find them. Although many reports still attempted to down-play the problem, the groundwork was laid as articles began to frequently refer to a hooligan minority of fans By the mid-1960s, with the World Cup to be held in England drawing closer, the press expressed dire warnings of how the hooligans could ruin the tournament. The World Cup passed without incident but the moral panic concerning hooliganism continued to increase.
By the 1970s calls for tougher action on trouble-makers became common place in the tabloid’s headlines: “Smash These Thugs” (Sun, 4 October 1976), “Thump and Be Thumped” (Daily Express, 25 November 1976), “Cage the Animals” (Daily Mirror, 21 April 1976) and “Birch em! ” (Daily Mirror, 30 August 1976). During the 1980s, many of these demands were actually et by the British authorities, in the wake of tragedies such as the Heysel deaths in 1985, “Cage The Animals” turning out to be particularly prophetic. As these measures were largely short-sighted, they did not do much to quell the hooliganism, and may have in fact made efforts worse.
As such, football hooliganism continued to feature heavily in the newspapers and mass media in general and still does today. Theory The main bodies of work we will consider here are that of Stuart Hall in the late 1970s and that of Patrick Murphy and his colleagues at Leicester in the late 1980s. Stuart Hall in The treatment of football hooliganism in he Press, identifies what he calls the amplification spiral’ whereby exaggerated coverage of a problem can have the effect of worsening it: 6 “If the official culture or society at large comes to believe that a phenomenon is threatening, and growing, it can be led to panic about it.
This often precipitates the call for tough measures of control. This increased control creates a situation of confrontation, where more people than were originally involved in the deviant behaviour are drawn into it … Next week’s confrontation’ will then be bigger, more staged, so will the coverage, so will the ublic outcry, the pressure for yet more control… ” This spiral effect, Hall argues, has been particularly apparent in the coverage of football hooliganism since the mid 1960s. The press’ technique of “editing for impact” is central to Hall’s theory. The use of “graphic headlines, bold type-faces, warlike imagery and epithets… serves to sensationalise and exaggerate the story. This approach is supported by a later study by Patrick Murphy and his colleagues7. They argue that the particular shape which football hooliganism has taken since the 1960s, i. e. “regular confrontations between named rival groups”, has arisen partly out of press overage of incidents. In particular, the predictive style of reporting which often appeared in the tabloids such as “Scandal of Soccer’s Savages – Warming up for the new season” (Daily Mirror, 20 August 1973) and “Off – To a Riot” (People, 2 August 1970).
In 1967, a Chelsea fan appearing in court charged with carrying a razor said in his defence that he had “read in a local newspaper that the West Ham lot were going to cause trouble”. 8 This predictive style of reporting is most apparent when the English national side is involved in international tournaments. During the build up to the World Cup in Italy, 1990 the English Press gave out rave warnings of violence in Italy. The Sun quoted anonymous English fans as saying there was going to be “… bloodbath – someone is going to get killed” (31 May 1990), while the Daily Mirror claimed Sardinians were arming themselves with knives for the visit of the English who were “ready to cause havoc” on the island (27 May 1990). This anticipation of trouble meant that media presence at the tournament was very substantial, and competition for a story’ fierce, resulting in journalists picking up the smallest of incidents. John Williams9 also claims that journalists may have aid English fans to pose for photographs. By defining matchdays and football grounds as times and places in which fighting could be engaged in and aggressive forms of masculinity displayed, the media, especially the national tabloid press, played a part of some moment in stimulating and shaping the development of football hooliganism. ” Furthermore, Murphy argues that the press have played a role in decisions over policy making to deal with football hooliganism, resulting in largely short-sighted measures which have in the main shifted violence from the terraces onto the streets and towns outside the football grounds.
Evidently, social explanations of football violence do not make great headlines and it is rare that a report of football violence in the popular press will include such an insight, if it does it tends to be a short remark, buried away at the end of the article. Thus, as Hall points out, “If you lift social violence out of it’s social context, the only thing you are left with is – bloody heads. ” In fact, the explanations offered to us by the popular press usually aim to dismiss the violence as irrational, stupid and ultimately animalistic – “RIOT! United’s Fans Are Animals” (Sunday People, 29 August 1975) and “SAVAGES!
ANIMALS! ” ( Daily Mirror, 21 April 1975). This has serious consequences, as Melnick points out: “The mass media in general and the national press in particular can take major credit for the public’s view of the soccer hooligan as a cross between the Neanderthal Man and Conan the Barbarian”. 10 By labelling the actions of football hooligans like this, it is easy for the tabloid press to make calls for tougher action from the authorities. If the violence has no rationale or reason then what can be done but use force against it? “Another idea might be to put these people in hooligan compounds’ every Saturday afternoon …
They should be herded together preferably in a public place. That way they could be held up to ridicule and exposed for what they are – mindless morons with no respect for other people’s property or wellbeing. We should make sure we treat them like animals – for their behaviour proves that’s what they are”. 11 Contrasted with these calls for harsh punishments have been more blatant forms of glorification of hooliganism, most obviously in the publishing of league tables of hooligan notoriety’: “Today the Mirror reveals the end-of-term arrest’ record of First Division Clubs’ supporters covering every league match layed by 22 teams.
The unique report compiled with the help of 17 police forces reflects the behaviour of both home’ and away’ fans at each ground. The record speaks for itself; Manchester United were bottom of the League of Shame by more than 100 arrests. ” 12 League tables were published in several other newspapers, including the Daily Mail, during the mid 1970s.
However, in 1984, when a report by a working group in the government’s Department of the Environment, entitled Football Spectator Violence, recommended that the police should compile a league table of the country’s most notorious ooligan groups to help combat the problem, many newspapers replied with disgust and outrage that this should be published (which it wasn’t going to be), arguing that doing so could incite hooligan competition. Importantly, as Murphy et al assert, this shows that the press recognise that publicity can influence football hooliganism.
Criticism has also been aimed at the tabloid press for the attitude it takes in its build-up to major international matches. Two days before England’s semi-final match against Germany in this year’s European Championships, the Mirror carried the front page headline “Achtung! Surrender. For you Fritz ze Euro 96 Championship is over” while the editorial, also on the front page, consisted of a parody of Neville Chamberlain’s 1939 announcement of the outbreak of war with Hitler: “Mirror Declares Football War on Germany”. Elsewhere, the war metaphors continued: “Let’s Blitz Fritz” (Sun) and “Herr We Go” (Daily Star).
Condemnation of the tabloids was widespread, but in fact they had done it before. Before England played the Federal Republic of Germany in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup, The Sun printed the headline “We Beat Them In 45 … Now The Battle of 90” Following the disturbances across Britain after the atch, in which a battle between English fans and police broke out in London’s Trafalgar Square and a Russian student was stabbed in Brighton, mistakenly being identified as a German, some critics were keen to point the finger at the xenophobia of the tabloid press in encouraging racist and violent action.
A report produced by the National Heritage Select Committee, led by Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, concluded that the tabloid press coverage “may well have had it’s effect in stimulating the deplorable riots”. Even without considering whether the disturbances that night constituted deplorable riots’ or not, this claim is highly debatable. What is clear, however, is that certain double standards exist within the tabloid press. On the one hand they are keen to label the actions of hooligans as moronic’ and evil’ whilst at the same time they encourage the jingoistic and xenophobic views so prevalent within the national hooligan scene.
A study by Blain and O’Donnell, involving 3,000 newspaper reports from 10 countries covering the 1990 World Cup claimed that “There is nothing elsewhere in Europe like the aggressiveness towards foreigners of the British popular press. “13. It is not just in the international context that one inds this aggressive style of reporting but also in general football journalism. Headlines such as “C-R-U-N-C-H”, “FOREST’S BLITZ”, “POWELL BLAST SHOCKS STOKE”, and “Doyle’s Karate Gets Him Chopped” were found in the sports pages of just one edition of the Sunday People14.
Stuart Hall claims that if football reporting is shrouded in violent, war metaphors and graphic imagery then one should not be surprised that this spills over on to the terraces. “… the line between the sports reporter glorying in the battles on the pitch, and expressing his righteous moral indignation at the battle on the terraces is a very fine and wavery ne indeed” 15. The role of the media in other European countries Studies of media reporting of football hooliganism elsewhere in Europe have been rather limited.
This may be due to the more benign’ reporting of fans in other countries or to the relative novelty of the football violence phenomenon in some cases. The most significant studies have been conducted in Italy and the Netherlands, with less substantial work in Denmark and Austria. Work on Scottish fans by Giulianotti, however, is also relevant in this section. Italy Alessandro dal Lago16 analyses the coverage of football hooliganism in the Italian media. He identifies two phases in reporting football matches by the press.
Before the 1970s each match was covered at most by two articles. The attention of the reporters was more focused on the players than on the terraces, when violence occurred it was reported as a secondary event in the context of the article. The second phase comes from the mid 1970s. Now attention was focused on the ends’ ( the terraces behind the goals favoured by the Italian ultras) and outside the stadium. Football incidents were given the honour’ of separate articles independent from the reports of football matches.
Dal Lago recognises the amplifying role which the media lays and claims that the ultras are aware of it to the extent that banners displayed in the ends’ frequently include messages to journalists. For example in June 1989, a week after a Roma supporter had died and three Milan fans arrested, a banner displayed by the Milan ultras was directed at Biscardi, a presenter of a popular sports programme Il Processo del Lunedi (The Monday Trial). It read “Biscardi sei figlio di bastardi” (Biscardi you are a son of bastards).
Dal Lago states that widespread hatred exists on the part of both groups, with expressions such as beasts’ and stupid’ used by he ultras to describe the media and by the media to describe the ultras. The Netherlands A study by van der Brug and Meijs set out to see what the influence of the Dutch media coverage of hooliganism is on the hooligans themselves. A survey was conducted in which there were 53 respondents from different sides’ (groups of fans so called after the section of the ground in which they are usually located) in Holland.
Put to them were a series of statements to see whether they agreed / disagreed etc. Statements which featured the strongest levels of agreement among the respondents were “It is fun when the side is mentioned in the newspaper or n television”, “Side supporters think it is important that newspapers write about their side” and “When I read in the newspaper that there will be extra police, it makes the coming match more interesting”. 17 The authors conclude that: “There is no doubt whatsoever that the media have some effect on football hooliganism. Scotland We have seen earlier that the media has played a large part in the shaping of the present day view of football hooligans in England. It is interesting, therefore, to consider the example of Scottish fans and their transformation, in the public’s eyes, from British hooligans’ to Scottish fans’. Since 1981 the Scottish Tartan Army’ has consciously sought to acquire an international reputation for boisterous friendliness to the host nation and opposing fans through carnivalesque’ behaviour 18.
The media has played a very important role in this. By organising themselves into very large groups at matches abroad, the Scottish fans attract a great deal of media attention, but by displaying themselves as nothing more than friendly, albeit drunken, fans their press coverage is predominantly positive. The Scottish media has been behind this transformation, namely by representing English fans as hooligans and by nderplaying any trouble which has occurred involving Scottish fans.
Denmark A similar story exists in Denmark where the Roligans’ (see section 4) have an impeccable reputation as the antithesis of the English hooligan’. Peitersen and Skov19 identified the role that the media played in forming this reputation: “The Danish popular press were an active force in support of the Danish roligans and the fantastic reputation that they have achieved in the international press … the Danish popular press came to have a similar role to that played by the English popular press for the hooligans, but with reversed polarity.
While the Danish press supported recognisable positive trends encompassing companionship, fantasy, humour and pride, the English press helped to intensify and refine violence among English spectators by consciously focusing on and exaggerating the violence and the shame. ” Austria Roman Horak20 also claims that a spate of de- amplification of football violence in the Austrian press occured in the mid to late 1980s As a result hooligans lost the coverage which they had previously thrived upon, and the number of incidents decreased.
Conclusion It is evident that the media plays a very significant ole in the public’s view of football hooliganism. By far the biggest problem lies in the sensationalist reporting of the British tabloid press. We have seen how the press has helped form the modern phenomenon of football hooliganism, how it has shaped public opinion of the problem, and how it may directly influence the actions of fans themselves. There is considerable evidence to support the claim that football hooligans enjoy press coverage and positively attempt to obtain coverage of themselves and their group.
In fact, a hooligan group’s notoriety and reputation stems largely from reports in the media. The following conversation between two Milwall supporters talking to each other in 1982, is somewhat revealing : “C – keeps a scrapbook of press cuttings and everything, you should see it, got this great picture from when Milwall went to Chelsea. Great, this Chelsea fan photographed being led away from the shed, with blood pouring out of his white tee shirt. He’s clutching his guts like this (illustrates), got stabbed real bad. “You see that thing in the Sun on Violent Britain’? No? Well I was in it. Well not directly like. I had this Tottenham geezer see. Sliced up his face with my blade – right mess. ” 21 In Football hooliganism: The Wider Context, Roger Ingham recommended that the media should reduce their tendencies to: ” … sensationalise, inflate, exaggerate and amplify their stories”, advocating “more accurate reporting of events, more careful choice of descriptive terminology, greater efforts to place the events themselves in appropriate contexts”.
Ingham also called for the press to think before printing anticipations of disturbances, going so far as to recommend that the Press Council “play a more active role in attempting to ensure accurate and responsible reporting”. However, 18 years on from Ingham’s writings we are still aced with the same situation and it is one which looks unlikely to go away. As Melnick 22 points out ” … in the newspaper business, bad news is good news'”.
A glimmer of hope perhaps stems from the Scottish example talked about earlier, demonstrating that football fans can produce good’ stories in the press, although it may be fair to say that many of the stories have only been deemed newsworthy’ because of the emphasis on the contrast with English fans. Horak’s claim is also encouraging, indicating that media de-amplification (i. e. playing down stories of football hooliganism) can lead to reductions in levels of violence. In this sense, therefore, Euro 96 could prove to be a turning point in press coverage of football.
Apart from the disturbances in London following the England – Germany match, the European Championships provided almost nothing in the way of hooliganism stories for the press and, as such, stories concentrated on the English team, rather than the fans. The role of the media was raised in a recent report to the European Parliament on football hooliganism by the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs. In this the committee recognises that: “The media act as magnifiers – they magnify acts of iolence and provoke further acts of violence.
The media show social problems – the violence in and around football, xenophobia and the racism which is its expression – as if under a magnifying glass. What is nasty becomes nastier because it seems to appear anonymously. ” It then goes on to recommend that the media: ” … participate in the promotion of respect for fair play in sport, to help promote positive sporting values, to combat aggressive and chauvinistic behaviour and to avoid any sensationalism in treating information on violence at sporting events. Short of outright censorship, however, it is hard to magine how legislation can reduce sensationalism and exaggeration in the media. [pic] Footnotes 5. Leicester Daily Mercury, 3 April 1899 11. Daily Mirror, 4 April 1977 12. Daily Mirror, 6 May 1974 14. Sunday People, 3 April 1977 Racism and football fans Introduction Racism is a problem for football across Europe and is an important factor in the problem of football hooliganism itself. The actual extent of racism is virtually impossible to measure as detailed statistics in this context are almost non-existent.
Nevertheless, acts of football disorder, especially on the international scene, have frequently been eferred to as ‘racist’, or perpetrated by racist groups, and some clubs are now viewed as having an inherently racist support. In this section the various forms of racism will be considered, with emphasis on the role of extreme right-wing groups, as these have frequently been reported to be involved in football-related violence. The various campaigns and schemes designed to combat racism will also be considered. The first professional black player in Britain is believed to have been Arthur Wharton, who signed for Darlington FC in 1889.
Nowadays, a black player is by no means unusual. In fact, around 25% of rofessional players are black. However, in the 1993/94 season Carling survey of Premier League fans, only 1% of fans described themselves as ‘non- white’. It is argued that this is due to a prevalence of racism amongst traditional soccer fans. In an attempt to redress the problem, the Campaign for Racial Equality (CRE), the Football Supporters Association (FSA) and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) have all launched initiatives to try and rid football grounds of racism and encourage more people from ethnic minorities to attend matches.
Their techniques and levels of success ill be discussed later, but let us start by examining the actual types of racism that exist in football stadiums. Forms of Racism Racist chanting in the 1970s and 1980s often took the form of members of the crowd making monkey noises at black players on the pitch. Other abuse has been more specific. For example, after the Deptford fire in 1981 when 13 black youths were burnt to death, a chant that could be heard at Millwall was: “We all agree Niggers burn better than petrol” Anti-Semitic chants have also been heard.
Tottenham Hotspur supporters have often been the target for this: “Those yids from Tottenham The gas man’s got them Oh those yids from White Hart Lane” Other chants are more closely linked to patriotism and as such the national team: “Stand by the Union Jack Send those niggers back If you’re white, you’re alright If you’re black, send ’em back” The 1991 Football (Offences) Act made racist chanting at football matches unlawful, but is largely inadequate as chanting is defined as the “repeated uttering of any words or sounds in concert with one or more others”.
As a result an individual shouting racist abuse on his own can only be charged under the 1986 Public Order Act for using “obscene and foul language at football grounds”. This loophole has allowed several offenders to escape conviction for racism at football matches. The level of influence that far-right groups have amongst football fans is a highly debatable issue but over the years they have been present in many football grounds across Britain.
Garland and Rowe1 suggest that far-right groups have targeted football fans since at least the 1930s, when the British Union of Fascists tried to attract the young working class male supporters into their brigade of uniformed ‘stewards’. In the 1950s the White Defence League sold their newspaper Black and White News at football grounds in London. It was the 1970s, however, that saw far-right groups rise to prominence as the problem of football hooliganism grew in the national conscience.
The National Front (NF) was the most active group in the 1970s, giving regular coverage in its magazine Bulldog to football and encouraging hooligan groups to compete for the title of ‘most racist ground in Britain’. Copies of Bulldog were openly sold at many clubs and, at West Ham, club memorabilia was sold doctored with NF slogans. Chelsea, Leeds United, Millwall, Newcastle United and Arsenal, as well as West Ham United, were all seen as having strong fascist elements in the 1970s and 1980s.
After the Heysel stadium tragedy when a wall collapsed killing 39 people fleeing from Liverpool fans, British National Party leaflets were found on the terraces. It seems that in the 1990s, however, the problem is waning. It is now uncommon to see the open selling of far-right literature or memorabilia at football matches and an incident such as the John Barnes one would be unlikely to happen now. But this does not mean to say that the problem has gone away, especially amongst the support for the English national side. During the 1980s, far-right groups were often in attendance t England’s matches abroad.
Williams and his colleagues2 identified a presence of NF members in the English support, especially amongst the Chelsea contingent, at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. As recently as 1995, far-right groups have been involved in disturbances abroad, namely at the England vs. Republic of Ireland ‘friendly’ match at Lansdowne Road, Dublin when fights between rival fans caused the game to be abandoned after half an hour. Supporters of the British National Party (BNP) and a militant group called Combat 18 were said to have been involved after racist literature was found at the scene.
Anti Republican chanting could clearly be heard at the match and some claim that the violence was actually orchestrated by an umbrella group called the National Socialist Alliance. The attractions of football matches to far-right groups are obvious. Football grounds provide a useful platform for the groups to make their voices heard. From them their views can be directed into millions of homes. It also seems as if football grounds can be a means to recruit young support. As Dave Robins3 points out: “The hard-man, though, lives in a more dangerous and unchanging world.
Permanently sensitised to ‘trouble’ in his nvironment, his paranoid fantasies about defending his ‘patch’ against outsiders make him ripe for manipulation by the politics of the extreme right” Their actual influence amongst club support, however, is believed by many to be minimal, a view held by the National Football Intelligence Unit:4 “We are aware that certain right-wing parties have been looking at football hooligans because they see them as an organised group and try to recruit them for this purpose with, I have to say, fairly limited success …
It has been seen as an opportunity by many, but I don’t think it has been a dramatic success, there is no evidence for that. Some debate also exists as to whether right-wing groups deliberately target soccer fans as recruits or whether soccer fans are drawn into the groups because of the opportunities they offer for violence. Robins is drawn towards the former argument, citing the leafleting campaigns of the 1980s, while David Canter5 argues that the right-wing groups merely cash in on soccer violence, rather than instigate it. One would have to conclude that there are elements of truth in both theories.
Anti-racism initiatives Recent years have seen a number of attempts by various groups and organisations to combat racism in football. These have come from the club level, supporter level and from organisational bodies such as the Campaign for Racial Equality (CRE), the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and the Football Supporters Association (FSA). In 1993 the CRE and PFA launched the Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football campaign, “with the aim of highlighting anti-racist and equal opportunities messages within the context of football” . It aimed to encourage clubs and supporters groups to launch their own campaigns to combat racism at their clubs. A ten point action plan was laid out for clubs: 1. Issue a statement saying that the club will not olerate racism, and will take action against supporters who engage in racist abuse, racist chanting or intimidation. 2. Make public announcements condemning any racist chanting at matches, and warning supporters that the club will not hesitate to take action. 3. Make it a condition for season ticket holders that they do not take part in racist abuse, racist chanting or any other offensive behaviour. . Prevent the sale or distribution of racist literature in and around the ground on match-days. 5. Take disciplinary action against players who make racially abusive remarks at players, officials or supporters before, during r after matches. 6. Contact other clubs to make sure they understand the club’s policy on racism. 7. Make sure stewards and the police understand the problem and the club’s policy, and have a common strategy for removing or dealing with supporters who are abusive and breaking the law on football offences. 8. Remove all racist graffiti from the ground as a matter of urgency. 9.
Adopt an equal opportunities policy to cover employment and service provision. 10. Work with other groups and agencies – such as the police, the local authority, the PFA, the supporters, schools, etc. – to evelop initiatives to raise awareness of the campaign and eliminate racist abuse and discrimination. The campaign stated that: “If football is to be played and enjoyed equally by everyone, whatever the colour of their skin, and wherever they come from, it is up to us all, each and every one of us, to refuse to tolerate racist attitudes, and to demand nothing less than the highest standards in every area of the game. ” A magazine, Kick It! was produced with funding from the Football Trust and 110,000 copies of a fanzine, United Colours of Football, were given out free at grounds across the country on the opening day of the 994/95 season. Initial reaction to the scheme was not entirely positive. Some thought that it may only serve to bring negative publicity to the game, by highlighting the problem of racism in football. Others claimed that racism was not a problem at their ground and therefore they had no need for such a campaign. Despite this, the first season of the campaign had the support of all but one of the professional clubs and all professional authorities.
In a survey conducted by Garland and Rowe in December 1994, 49 fanzine editors from a wide range of clubs were asked to comment on levels of racism at their club. Many were skeptical about the success of Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football, with only 32% citing the campaign as a factor in the perceived decrease in racism at football matches in the last five years. Garland and Rowe suggest that this lack of support may stem from mistaken expectations of the campaign. As mentioned earlier, the aim of the CRE and PFA was to encourage clubs to launch their own initiatives, rather than control the whole campaign themselves.
In this sense it has been largely successful, as it prompted many clubs to launch their own campaigns. The most ambitious of these have been Derby County’s cheme Rams Against Racism and Charlton Athletic’s Red, White and Black at the Valley. Derby County went so far as to dedicate a home match day in 1994 to the cause of combating racism after liaisons between club officials, the club’s Football and Community Development Officer and the Racial Equality Council. Anti-racist banners were displayed, campaign messages printed in the match day programme and players involved.
Two- hundred and fifty free tickets were also given out to local children. A long term aim of the scheme was to encourage the local Asian community to attend more games as well as encouraging local Asian footballing talent. Red, White and Black at the Valley was a leaflet launched by Charlton Athletic in conjunction with the police, the local Racial Equality Council, Greenwich Council and the supporters club. The aim was to present Charlton Athletic as being a club that people from all disadvantaged minorities could come and watch without fear of harassment from other supporters.
After the leaflet had been distributed the club continued by producing posters and issuing statements in the programmes. Players also visited local schools and colleges. Garland and Rowe point out that it is difficult to alculate how effective these schemes have been, although a drive by the police (acting on a tip-off from the club) was successful in removing racist fans from one end of the Valley ground. The first fan-based group set up specifically to fight racism was Leeds Fans United Against Racism And Fascism (LFUARAF).
This was formed in 1987 to combat the influence of far-right groups at Elland Road, especially the most visible displays of paper selling etc. The first step was to distribute anti-racist leaflets outside the ground, then in 1988 it contributed to Terror On Our Terraces, a report on the involvement of the ar-right amongst the Leeds crowd. This prompted the club to recognise the problem and they issued an anti-racist statement signed by both management and players. Within a few months the number of far-right paper sellers decreased significantly and the campaign is still active today.
In Scotland, supporters have formed a national campaign to combat racism in football. SCARF (Supporters’ Campaign Against Racism in Football) was formed in 1991 in response to an increase in far-right activity at Scottish grounds, mainly involving the BNP. Most of the campaign consists of leafleting the worst affected grounds, Rangers and Hearts being two examples, but it has not been without its problems. As well as- one female campaigner being threatened and others abused, SCARF say that they have had a problem in getting clubs and officials to recognise that there is a problem at all.
Fanzines started in the mid 1980s and have offered an alternative, positive view of football fans in the post-Heysel era. Now almost every club has at least one fanzine and Garland and Rowe claim that these are almost exclusively anti-racist. Some are actually produced by anti-racist groups themselves such as Marching Altogether (LFUARAF) and Filbo Fever (Leicester City Foxes Against Racism). Other clubs whose fanzines actively support anti-racism campaigns include Everton, Celtic, Manchester United, Cardiff City, Leyton Orient and Chelsea.
One criticism levelled at fanzines is that they are simply preaching to the converted as the fans who buy them will already be anti-racist. Nevertheless, fanzines have enjoyed increasing popularity over the last few years which should be recognised as a positive sign and the LFUARAF recognises this problem and for this purpose gives away Marching Altogether free at matches. The CRE and PFA also believe that the ‘civilisation’ of ootball grounds – seating, family enclosures, executive boxes etc. – will encourage more blacks and Asians to attend football matches.
They may be right but this has not occurred yet in England. Every football ground in the Premier League is now all-seater yet, as mentioned before, white people constitute 99% of the attendance. The European dimension Throughout Europe, racism figures prominently in football related violence. Neo-nazi and neo-fascist groups target football grounds in Europe in the same way as their English equivalents do here. Among the worst affected clubs are Lazio and AC Milan in Italy, Paris Saint- Germain in France, and Real Madrid and Espagnole in Spain.
In Italy, a Jewish player, Ronnie Rosenthal, was unable to play even one game for Udinese because of massive pressure from neo- fascist circles and Aaron Winter, a native of Suriname of Hindustani extraction was subject to attacks at Lazio involving cries of ‘Niggers and Jews Out’. More recently, Paul Ince, a black English player for Inter Milan , has expressed his anger at the way he has been treated by the Italian fans. Germany has one of the worst reputations in Europe for far-right influence amongst its fans, with frequent displays of Hitler alutes, particularly at international matches.
Professor Volker Rittner of the Sports Sociology Institute in Cologne, however, believes that these are no more than provocative displays designed to get the fans into the papers, but some reports of right-wing activity in Germany have been disturbing. In 1990 there were reports of skinheads barracking the small number of black players in the Bundesliga and in 1992 similar reports were made of neo-nazi groups in Germany using football matches as occasions to plan and organise attacks against local ethnic communities and East European refugees.
An nalysis of the political attitudes of German fans revealed that 20% feel close to neo-nazis. Whilst it is not clear how active these fans would be, this is nonetheless a disturbing figure. Some European countries have initiated similar schemes to the British Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football campaign. The Netherlands uses the motto When Racism Wins, the Sport Loses which is displayed on posters at train stations and at tram and bus stops. Players in the Netherlands even went on strike in protest against racism.
Players have also led the way in Italy by threatening to walk off the pitch if black players continued to be abused by racists. This resulted in a day of action in December 1992 when all players in the top two divisions displayed the slogan No Al Razzismo! (No To Racism). In Switzerland, footballers from the national team are involved in ‘street football’ competitions for young people, held in a different town each weekend. A more general campaign is the All Different – All Equal campaign against racism, xenophobia and intolerance, organised by the Council of Europe.
Football players from many countries have been involved, most notably in Sweden where the national team appeared in a short video, shown several times on national TV, to promote the campaign. Conclusion Although actual levels of racism are extremely hard to quantify and statistics thin on the ground, it seems apparent that the last decade has seen a reduction in the levels of racism at football matches in England. Garland and Rowe’s survey revealed that 84% of the fanzine editors who responded felt that levels of racism had decreased over the past five years, with over half of these claiming a significant decline.
Only 6% felt that racism had increased during this time. Garland and Rowe also claim that this view was backed up by nearly all of the administrators, players and officials interviewed in addition to the survey. The role of fan-based groups and the growth of fanzine culture were the two most cited reasons for the decline in racism, although this may not be surprising given that the respondents were all fanzine editors. Perhaps more important, therefore, is the fact that 57% believed that the increase in the number of black players was a major factor for the decrease in racism.
As mentioned earlier, only a third of the respondents felt that the campaigns by the CRE and the FSA were a factor. Nevertheless, all of the respondents were aware of the Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football Campaign and 44% felt that it had raised public awareness of the problem. As Garland and Rowe point out, however, less public forms of racism may still be present and support for the national team seems still to have distinct racist factions to it, as last year’s Lansdowne Road disturbance indicated.
In any case, the lack of support from ethnic minorities suggests that clubs, authorities and fans still need to go a long way in convincing people that they will not encounter racism at football grounds. Racism in other parts of Europe does not look as if it is decreasing and in some parts may be increasing. In Germany, the neo-nazi and neo-fascist movements continue to increase their support and the Front National in France, led by Jean Marie Le Pen, holds public support across the board, football supporters being no exception.
The issue of racism in football has been raised this year in a report to the European Parliament on football hooliganism, drafted by the German Green Group MEP Claudia Roth and presented in April. (See also Section 8) The committee was said to be: ” … shocked at the racist demonstrations and attacks perpetrated on players who are black or Jewish or come from different national or ethnic backgrounds” and ” … concerned at the ways in which extremist organisations deliberately exploit violence connected with sport ncluding the manipulation and infiltration of hooligan groups”.
The report goes on to suggest that players should take an active role in combating racism by refusing to play if “violent, racist, xenophobic or anti-Semitic behaviour” occurs. It also calls for a Europe- wide ban on any racist or xenophobic symbols being displayed at football matches. Perhaps most importantly, the report calls for a European day of anti-racism and fair play in sport to be held throughout Europe in 1997 (the European Year Against Racism) and involving sports personalities to help promote the campaign.
According to the Labour MEP Glyn Ford (Kick It Again, 1995), UEFA has so-far not adopted any specific measures to combat racism in football. They argue that their ‘Fair Play’ scheme is adequate in tackling the problem. In this, behaviour both on and off the field is evaluated, and negative marks are given for racist chanting or the display of racist slogans. At the end of the season the three national associations with the best records are awarded an extra place in the UEFA Cup for one of their clubs. Whilst this may provide some sort of incentive for fans not to be racist, critics argue that this is not enough.
In an international context, the media, in particular the English tabloid press, it is argued, play a part in encouraging racism and xenophobia at football matches and this was also recognised in the European Parliament report. In the report’s explanatory statement the committee states that the media frequently present international matches as ‘warlike confrontations’ which thus give rise to jingoism and sometimes acts of violence. The committee recommends that the media should endeavour to bring the sporting aspect back into sport.
While one must recognise that the problem of racism is ifferent in each country, a Europe-wide initiative to combat the problem must surely be welcomed. Football violence and alcohol Little research on football hooliganism has included a specific focus on the role of alcohol. Work by John Williams1 and Richard Giulianotti2 includes discussion of the possible ‘aggravating’ effects in the case of English and Scottish fans, but few empirical data are presented concerning consumption rates or specific effects of alcohol.
For most researchers and theorists, the issue of alcohol is, at best, peripheral and in Italian work it is, as we might expect, not considered at all. The ‘alcohol- violence connection’ This is in stark contrast to media coverage of football fan behaviour, particularly in the UK. Here ‘drunkenness’ is by far the most often reported cause of violent disorder, even in circumstances where there is no evidence of excessive drinking. In line with this populist view, most official enquiries into football hooliganism have dwelt on the ‘problem’ of alcohol and urged its restriction at football matches.
Even government sponsored publications concerning Crime Prevention Initiatives include sweeping conclusions about the ‘dangers’ of alcohol consumption by ootball fans: “Some offences are alcohol-related by definition – drink-driving for example. But these are by no means the only ones where alcohol plays a large part. Public disorder, including football hooliganism and vandalism is particularly associated with it. ” Controls on the availability of alcohol at football matches have now existed for some time in Britain3 and the European Parliament has recently included a Europe-wide ban on alcohol in its recommendations.
Much of the EP debate, however, was driven by British and German MEPs and it is clear that alcohol is seen as a significant factor in his context only by northern Europeans. Consideration of the association between drinking and football hooliganism lies within a much broader debate concerning the role of alcohol in the generation of violent and criminal behaviour. This issue has been reviewed at length in other publications and we will not dwell here on the complexities of the issue. 4 It is clear, however, that the perceived alcohol-violence connection is primarily restricted to Northern European and Anglo Saxon cultures.
Elsewhere in the world quite contrary perceptions exist. Where alcohol can be shown to have a direct impact on evels of aggression and anti-social behaviour, the effect is largely mediated by immediate social factors and more general, pervasive cultural expectations. Culture and alcohol The cultural nature of the relationship between alcohol and football is evident from a rare ‘natural experiment’ involving Aston Villa fans attending a European Cup Final against Bayern Munich in the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam.
This took place in 1982 at a time when concern about the drinking behaviour of English fans was at a peak. The bar at the back of the terraces occupied by Villa fans served lager which, unknown to them, was alcohol-free. Bayern fans had access to ‘normal’ lager). John Williams comments on this ‘trick’ in Hooligans Abroad: ” … Villa supporters who made the endless trek back and forth to the bars, carrying six cartons with the aid of a specially designed cardboard tray, believed themselves to be en route to getting well and truly ‘steaming’ …
To get drunk in the Villa end that night, one would need to drink more than the ‘lager’ on sale to English fans. What officials later described as the ‘big con’ was in full swing. While fans in other sections of the ground were sinking the real thing, Villa fans were the subject of a non-alcoholic elusion. ” 5 Ambivalence about alcohol While most observers of this ‘con’ noted with interest the apparently ‘drunken’ behaviour of Villa fans, Williams is more ambivalent about the extent to which the effects of alcohol are psychologically mediated.
He suggests, for example, that the drunkenness in some cases might have been ‘real’ and due to drinking prior to the game – a suggestion for which he offers no evidence. Elsewhere in Williams’ writing the ambivalence concerning alcohol is replaced with self-contradictory stances. Take, for example, his view expressed at a conference in 1989: We are regularly told that it is drink which releases the full force of this natural wickedness, and that curbs on drinking will bottle it up. Someone should inform the Danes and the Irish of these findings.
Supporters from these countries were among the most drunken and the most friendly fans in West Germany. The message might also reach UEFA who sanctioned a major brewer as the Championships’ sponsor! ” This dismissal of the relevance of alcohol by Williams is followed, three years later, by a non sequitor call for restrictions on the availability of alcohol to British fans abroad: We recommend that for the foreseeable future, and with the support of the continental authorities concerned, an alcohol ban should operate for all England matches on the continent. 6 Other inconsistencies are evident in Williams’ work and it is, perhaps, ironic that he should make such recommendations given his insistence that football violence derives from deeply entrenched social factors within British society rather than from immediate situational or psychological processes. The roligans The Danish fans, about whose ‘drunken but friendly’ behaviour Williams makes favourable comment, are an interesting example. The Danish ‘Roligans’ are fanatical football supporters who are renowned for their levels of beer consumption.
They are also Northern European and might be expected, therefore, to be among those for whom group drinking sessions often end in belligerence and fighting. Their conduct, however, is quite different from that associated with English fans and, to a lesser extent with their German and Dutch contemporaries. The analysis provided by Eichberg of the Danish Sport Research Institute sums up their distinctiveness succinctly: “The roligan displays a feature which links him with his counterpart, the hooligan: excessive alcohol consumption.
English, Irish and Danish fans compete for the position of being the most drunk – yet fundamentally different behaviour patterns arise. Where the heavy drinking of English hooligans impels aggression and violence, the roligan is characterised by the absence of violence and companiable cheerfulness. ” 7 The behaviour of Danish fans at Euro ’96, has also been the subject of much favourable comment by the media and the police. Commenting on the amusing and good-natured antics of the Danes in Sheffield, Cathy Cassell and Jon Rea 8 noted: “Such characteristics endeared Sheffielders towards them.
No matter how much lager they consumed, and how badly the team performed, the atmosphere wherever they congregated was nothing short of a party. The city did well out of it … Numerous pubs ran dry. The police and council officials expressed their amazement that such amounts of beer could be consumed by so many football supporters with no trouble at all. ” The police view The ‘surprise’ expressed by the police about the good- natured drunkenness of Danish fans is understandable given their assumptions about alcohol and hooliganism in the UK.
We should note, however, that the police are less ready to blame drink than some newspaper eports have suggested. A study was conducted of the views of Police Commanders who were responsible for crowd control at all 92 English League clubs. They were asked “How serious an influence is heavy drinking in contributing to football-related disorder in your town? “. Concerning Home fans, only 11% saw it as being the ‘single most serious influence’, while a further 20% rated it as ‘serious’. Almost half of the Commanders felt that alcohol was an influence, but not a serious one, while the remainder felt that it was not an influence at all.
Their views regarding visiting Away fans, however, were a little different. Here 18% felt that alcohol was the most significant influence while 35% rated it as serious. These are, of course, views rather than empirical facts and based upon, we presume, observations that many fans in the UK, and away fans in particular, tend to consume alcohol prior to engaging in acts of hooliganism. Despite the implicit assumptions, however, this does not mean that acts of hooliganism would necessarily be less frequent if alcohol were less readily available, or likely to increase in frequency when drinking levels were higher.
Take, for example, the extensions to licensing hours in Manchester and elsewhere during Euro ’96. At the time Commander John Purnell, head of policing for the championships, was concerned about such ‘liberalising’ of drinking: “History shows that a tiny minority will drink more than they can handle and, while under the influence of alcohol, will behave badly. ” The Home Secretary, Michael Howard, also joined the debate, claiming that the magistrates and Licensing Justices in Manchester were acting “incongruously and inappropriately”.
The fears of Commander Purnell and Michael Howard were largely unfounded. There were very few reported incidences of trouble uring the tournament. The only event of significance took place in London, where licenses had notbeen extended. Unexpected consequences of alcohol bans Increasing restrictions on the availability of alcohol at football matches may not only be inappropriate but possibly have negative side-effects. There is increasing evidence that such restrictions are already prompting some fans to substitute a variety of drugs for lager.
John Williams has already noted an increase in the use of cannabis as a direct consequence of the potential penalties for being in possession of alcohol in a British football stadium. Others note the increased use of MDMA (ecstasy) in such contexts. Evidence of a more concrete kind concerning unanticipated effects of restrictions comes from a study in the United States, the implications of which are generalisable to other countries and settings. Boyes and Faith conducted a detailed study of the impact of a ban on alcohol at (American) football games at Arizona State University.
They hypothesised that such a ban would lead to ‘intertemporal’ substitution of the consumption of alcohol – i. e. fans would increase their consumption immediately prior to, and after leaving the football games. Such substitution, they argued could more more damaging than the effects which might arise from intoxication within the stadium and such negative consequences could be measured in, for example, increased numbers of fans driving before and after the match while over the legal BAC limit. The authors argued that there were three reasons to expect such a consequence: “First, alcohol in the body does not dissipate quickly …
Thus the effects of increased drinking in the period prior to the regulated period may carry over into the regulated period. Second, the level of intoxication, during any period depends on the ate of consumption as well as the volume. Thus, even if there is not a one-for-one substitution of consumption from the restricted period to the adjacent unregulated periods, average intoxication taken over the adjacent and unregulated periods can increase. Third, studies indicate that the probability of having a traffic accident increases at an increasing level of intoxication.
Thus, the social costs of drinking and driving in the unregulated periods may increase. ” 9 Boyes and Faith examined police data concerning alcohol- related driving accidents, detected DWI (Driving while intoxicated) cases nd other measures for the periods before and after the restrictions on alcohol in the stadium. They found significant increases of up to 40% in blood alcohol concentrations in drivers stopped by the police. This is despite an increase in the penalties for DWI and an increase in the legal driving age in the postban period.
The implications of this study are very relevant to restrictions on alcohol at British football stadiums. They also suggest that the recent proposals from European Parliament committees for a Europe- wide ban on alcohol at football matches may be misguided. If alcohol is a ignificant determinant of anti-social behaviour, directly or indirectly, the effects of intertemporal substitution of drinking, which alcohol bans are likely to generate, will tend to increase the likelihood of aggression both prior to and shortly after the games.
Such behaviour, of course, is also likely to occur outside of the stadiums where, it is more difficult to police and control. The case of the Scots If total bans on alcohol at football games are inappropriate, for the reasons discussed above, alternative means need to be explored for modifying alcohol-related behaviour among football fans, nd English fans in particular. This may seem an impossible prospect. The change in the behaviour of Scottish fans, however, is of interest in this context.
We noted earlier in Section 3 that although Scottish fans are often ‘heavy’ consumers of alcohol, the belligerent behaviour which used to be associated with their drinking has changed quite substantially over the last ten to fifteen years. As Giulianotti 10 has noted, the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act of 1980, which prohibits the possession of alcohol at, or in transit to, a football match, has done little to dent the degree o which alcohol is very much part of the football experience.
Nonetheless, it is generally agreed that the ‘drunkenness’ of Scottish fans now presents far less of a threat to law and order than it might once have done. This transformation of Scottish fan behaviour, according to Giulianotti, has come about through their desire to distance themselves from their English rivals and to present an image of themselves throughout Europe as the ‘friendly’ supporters. In pursuit of this aim the meaning of alcohol has been substantially altered and now, instead of being a precursor to aggression and fights, is the ‘liquid’ facilitation of ositive social affect and good humour.
Although some ‘traditional’ drunken fighting remains among Scottish fan groups, the majority seem to have moved away from the English ‘hooligan’ model to one which is more characteristic of the Danish roligans. If this radical change of behaviour can occur among the Scots, without any apparent decline in their consumption levels, then we must assume that similar shifts are possible in English fan culture. While drinking among Dutch and German fans generally presents less of a problem, we might also anticipate the possibility of further change in these groups as well.