British Soccer Superhooligans: Emergence and Establishment: 1982-2000

By
defining match days 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 soccer hooliganism (p. 122).

Murphy et al., (1990), believe that the amount of publicity
given to the superhooligan groups and their leaders increased
the membership ranks with “hardcases and other socio-pathic
nutters” (Murphy et al., 1990, p. 168), who were not
previously involved with soccer hooliganism.

The
media was not only engaged in reporting and predicting soccer
superhooliganism, but it also led the call for remedial action
against the soccer thugs. However, the media-advocated policy
measures introduced to combat soccer superhooliganism “tended
to displace the disorder on to the streets outside football
grounds, sometimes at considerable distances from them, rather
than to eradicate it” (Murphy et al., 1990, p. 122).

Involvement
by the media in soccer hooliganism included publishing their
own ‘league tables of hooligan notoriety.’ The Daily
Mail September, 1986, ran a headline, “Chelsea tops thugs
league” Murphy (1990), or, the Evening Standard had a
center spread page on July 29, 1985, which read, “London
league of violence” Murphy et al., (1990). The impact
these articles have had on the reader depends on individual
motivations. Superhooligans view the publicity as validating
their activity. When an article is published, identifying
the Chelsea Headhunters as the top superhooligan group, other
superhooligans view this as a challenge to knock Chelsea off
of the top spot.

The
root causes of present-day soccer superhooliganism are deep
and complex. Newspapers, in particular the tabloid press,
“have made a contribution of some significance to the
rise of present-day hooliganism and to giving it its distinctively
contemporary form” (Murphy et al., 1990, p. 124). Articles
featuring stories on superhooligan group leaders, although
not necessarily condoning them, rarely condemned their activities
either. The press undoubtedly contributed to the “intensification
of the status competition between rival hooligan groups”
(Murphy et al., 1990, p. 124), and the tabloid press has been
responsible for feature stories portraying superhooligan leaders
as prosperous and from middle class backgrounds. Exaggeration
on the part of the press, according to Canter (1989), further
sensationalized the leaders concerned, which consequently
attracted to superhooliganism some ‘non-typical’ hooligan
types. That the popular press is responsible for aiding and
abetting the soccer superhooliganism phenomenon by its extensive
and sensationalized coverage is patently obvious. The press
could have played a key role in diffusing the soccer hooligan
movement during its early stages – but it chose instead to
use hooliganism to sell papers and, consequently, led in the
emergence and establishment of Britian’s soccer super-hooligans.

References

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