Culture of Soccer Week 3 (The Soccerati, Fan Violence and Stadium Disasters) Comment

Each week we are to respond to another student’s post.   A classmate’s post brought together the fan culture described in Fever Pitch with the unfortunate events at Hillsborough in 1989.  Here was my response to his post:

You managed to tie the two threads together in a way that I was unable to. I was off in the weeds about my journey as a soccer fan while reading Fever Pitch again and stunned by the some of the details and images I was provided about incidents I knew preciously little about.

Relating Fever Pitch to the hooligan culture we read about this week, an interesting point was made about actions being the result of emotions. I agree that is true, but was that really the source of hooligan culture? Were they really causing violence because of their great passion for the club? Reflecting on some the readings both for class and otherwise, it almost seems as if the game was the excuse for the violence, it just needed a platform. The obsessives, of which Hornby was one, were too busy complaining about this player or that manager or celebrating a goal or trying to stay warm, while the hooligans were planning and instigating and attacking, with the game merely in the background.

Reading about the Barras Bravas in South America for next week, I was struck by how fandom expresses itself. Am I more of a fan or less of a fan if I don’t hate or demean or physically confront fans of the opposition? I have toned down significantly over the years so I struggle to see the hooligans or more demonstrative fans’ point of view.

Finally, the comments on the Hillsborough video were very similar to mine. This video combined with the recent revelations paint an extremely disturbing picture of the authorities that day. There were several contributing factors to the event and the handling during and after were sickening. We live in a different age now, partly due to the results of that horrible day and other days like it.

  1. I think your comment about a game being just an excuse for rioting and hooliganism was right on. The only time I have ever been in a “riot” or tear gased was at MSU in the late 90s. The basketball team lost in the final 4 (i believe) and a riot ensued. The students did it for fun or even because it was “expected” rather than due to some outrage over the outcome of the game. I wonder how much of this mentality has made its way into football hooliganism.

  2. The MSU events of the late 90’s/early 2000’s would make for an interesting comparison with hooligan culture. It could be argued that the hooligans were rebelling against lack of economic opportunity and used football as a release, which was encouraged by the mob mentality. What were MSU students rebelling against? Have to imagine most are privileged middle class kids just hanging out, watching the game and having some beers. I don’t remember any outrageous referee decisions so it probably wasn’t that. Just something to do to relieve the boredom or just something to do because something needed to be done. Anyway, your comment made me file this idea in the back of my brain for something possibly at a later date. Thanks for reading.

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