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aka: Soccer Hooligans
"Whenever people ask me if I like football from now on, I say, 'Yes, I do like football. But not Burnley. Burnley can fuck off'."
An Association Football
supporter who arguably takes the "support" part more seriously than the football. Portrayals (and Real Life
examples) tend to range along a sliding scale of criminal behaviour. Some are fans who've gotten drunk and found themselves in a Bar Brawl
, while others are organised "firms" — gangs formed on the basis, not of ethnicity or home turf, but of the members' favoured team. Strongly associated with the UK, but as pointed out
on The Other Wiki
, prevalent all over the world — even within the US
, at least according to The Guardian
. Hooliganism was so rife in 1980's England (for example, contributing to disasters like Heysel
) that Margaret Thatcher
formed a "war cabinet" to deal with the problem; ironically, measures put in place to stop it resulted in the tragedy at Hillsborough
. Thankfully, further measures put in place have all but stamped this problem out.
Hooliganism in spirit bears some similarity to Fight Clubbing
, in that rival firms usually stick to beating each other up. However, as it takes place in public and is often backed up by tribal loyalties and strong emotions, it can easily escalate into armed battles, or overflow into property damage, fights with police and stampeding civilians. See Powder Keg Crowd
Can cross over with Violent Glaswegian
in the case of Celtic v Rangers. (Whose cross-city relationship is not
helped by the religious, historical and Northern Irish affiliations
of both sets of fans.) Dundee United and Dundee F.C share a single hooligan gang, the only such case in the world.
Contrast London Gangster
and The Yardies
, who these guys will soon run into if they move into organised crime.
See also Rugby Is Slaughter
- some wag once pointed out that "Rugby is a game for thugs played by gentlemen, while football is a game for gentlemen played by thugs".
In its heyday, inns throughout Britain posted baffling-to-Americans
signs reading "No football coaches allowed" (Translation: "No coach buses full of soccer fans allowed").
Anime and Manga
- John Constantine gets out of a sticky situation when a demon had fused four hooligans together to kill him, while retaining their personalities. Unfortunately for the demon's plans, two were for Chelsea, the other two for Arsenal. They start beating the crap out of themselves, allowing John to escape.
- "What do you do on Sundays, lads?"
- On another occasion, John meets a demon who is the genius spirit of football hooliganism and accepted deaths and bloodshed in the stands as his sacrifices.
- The Football Factory - Chelsea v Millwall
- The Firm - West Ham
- Green Street has Elijah Wood's Fish out of Water American student sucked into the world of a West Ham firm.
- Robert Carlyle's character Felix De Souza in The 51st State - Liverpool.
- In Eurotrip, two of the protagonists run into a Manchester United fanclub (in Londonnote ). The club are stereotypical hooligans, but the two strike well with them and they give them a ride to Paris.
- The Dingo Pictures animated film Animal Soccer World invokes this with a gang of duck hooligans who show up for the animal soccer game. They're stereotypically attired and some have weapons with them before the game even starts. They play no part in the film after being introduced.
- In The Inbetweeners Movie, a group of hooligans keep Will awake though his entire bus ride from the airport by singing irritating songs praising Burnley. He comments, "When people ask me if I like football now, I say yes, but not Burnley. Burnley can fuck off."
- In the German Film Fußball ist unser Leben some Schalke hooligans capture a football player (who is more interested in cocaine and hookers than in football) to train him themselves, because they would lose a bet (with one hooligan's house at stake) when Schalke loses.
- In Cockneys Vs Zombies, two mobs of undead football hooligans encounter one another in the street, each still dressed in the colors of their favorite team. They immediately stagger to the attack, clumsily hitting and shoving one another, and ignoring the living protagonists who marvel that "Even when they're zombies, they can't stand each other".
- Given the Discworld treatment in Unseen Academicals.
- According to Dave Barry in "Football Deflated";
In most nations, when people say "football" they mean "soccer," which is a completely different game in which smallish persons whiz about on a field while the spectators beat each other up and eventually overthrow the government.
- Adopted for horse racing in Belisarius Series. The Greens and The Blues, and their rivalry that culminated in the (in)famous Nika riots in the original timeline that destroyed half of the Constantinople and just barely avoided leading to the destruction of Byzantine government at the time, were treated much like modern football hooligans or the rival firms.
- In the Alex Rider novel Ark Angel, Alex is being led through a crowd by a villain with a hidden gun. He starts silently taunting a football fan whose team has just lost (by miming the score with his fingers) until the man comes over and starts a fight, giving Alex a chance to escape.
- In the 1970's, a now-defunct publishing house called the New English Library specialised in lurid penny-dreadfuls, hack-written novels capitalising on Daily Mail readers' fears about British society going to Hell in a handcart. Among its copious catalogue were pulp novels by a "Richard Allen" about football hooliganism, with no nose left unbroken nor no groin unkicked. Allen wrote four or five books about the hooligans, culminating in a truly outrageous piece of monumental absurdity called Striker!, where football hooligans precipitate the collapse of British society and, with the aid of no-good trade unions and communists, take over the country. Eventually, the Americans call a halt to Britain's slide into anarchy by sending their army in to restore order and put down hooliganism. Oh dear. A cure producing a bigger body count than the disease?
- The non-fiction book "Among the Thugs" by Bill Buford is dedicated to exploring this phenomenon in its entirety.
- The Novel Awaydays by Kevin Sampson follows a crew of hooligans, called The Pack, who support Tranmere Rovers in the late 70's.
- Irvine Welsh's novels are rife with this trope. In Trainspotting's prequel Skagboys, Begbie is established to be one of these, which should come as no surprise.
- In Glue, Carl "N-Sign" Ewart supports Heart of Midlothian F.C. (commonly known as Hearts), much to the dislike of his mates, who are fans of Hibernian F.C. (often known as Hibs), the Hearts' local rivals. The book also features football firms of the Rangers, Dundee United and Aberdeen.
- Mike Myers had a recurring fictional TV show sketch on Saturday Night Live called "Scottish Soccer Hooligans Weekly."
- Rare non-UK variant: Danish police show Anna Pihl had an episode concentrating on the Danish "casual" subculture; violent football hooligans modelled after the English firms, also connected to racist crime.
- One episode of Life On Mars dealt with a murder tied to the upcoming Manchester Derby (City vs. United). At the end, the furious Sam rants at the Perp of the Week about the future of football in England because of hooligans; the fences, the checkups, deaths...
"And then we overreact, and we have to put up perimeter fences and we treat the fans like animals! Forty, fifty thousand people herded into pens! And then how long before something happens, eh? How long before something terrible happens and we are dragging bodies out?"
- Specifically, he's talking about the Hillsborough Disaster. 96 deaths were caused by failures in crowd control leading to a dangerous crush, and the prevailing mindset that all fans were hooligans meant that a public safety problem was treated as a public order problem. This lead to a crucial delay in getting people out of the crush, and allegedly some of those scaling the fences to escape it were pushed back in.
- Bernard tries to get beaten up by Millwall supporters in the pilot episode of Black Books.
Millwall! That's the one. Do you know this chant; "Millwall, Millwall, you're all really dreadful, and all your girlfriends are unfulfilled and alienated..."
- An episode of The Thin Blue Line had the police being worried about a possible outbreak of football hooliganism due to a London team playing the local club. In arresting various troublemaking elements, they end up locking up the entire local club.
- The Goodies had an episode about soccer hooliganism, in which ballet eventually replaced soccer as the national pastime but was then ruined by - yep - ballet hooligans.
- This was quite probably a reference to The Rite Of Spring, which actually did have hooligans beating each other and gendarmes called in to quell the riot on its premiere.
- They also had a milder parody in one episode, where Tim and Graeme ran in, cheering, chanting, and dressed in red-white scarves and wooly hats.
- Frasier. Daphne's Mum and Dad met during a soccer riot. When Frasier gets sick, she tells him that she's a good nurse, having mended all her brothers' football injuries.
Frasier: Well, I didn't get injured playing soccer.
Daphne: Neither did me hooligan brothers.
- A song in Rutland Weekend Television was called "Football", the lyrics being entirely insane.
I throw house bricks for The Arsenal
I chuck lead pipe for West Ham
I kick and maim for Chelsea
I kill for Tottenham
I drop bottles for United on the crowd from up above
Yes football is the game that we all love
- In an episode of George and the Dragon, George gets arrested for hooliganism, though what he did was mild compared to today. Look closely and you'll see the policeman who arrests him is Lionel from As Time Goes By.
- Documented in Danny Dyer's (of The Football Factory) series The Real Football Factories and The Real Football Factories International.
- In Australia, The Chaser's War On Everything had a skit involving selling Balaclavas and (fake) knuckledusters in club colors to Canterbury Bulldogs fans.
- After the home team wins in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun:
Mary: Listen, can you hear them celebrating?
Dick: [wistfully] Yes, the happy sounds of cars over turning and stores being looted. I love the smell of burning rubber, it smells like victory!
- In Elementary, M's alibi for the murder of Irene Adler is that he was doing time for a Bar Brawl over the relative merits of Arsenal (his team) and Manchester United.
- Weekend Warrior by Iron Maiden is about hooligans. Given that Steve Harris had the choice between a football career with West Ham United and a music career with Iron Maiden (he took the second option) he knows a lot about football - the good side and the bad side.
- U.S. Acres: Some strips had The Beautiful Game as a theme. In this one, Lanolin showed the área where the parking lot would be. She explained that's where that'd hold "the fight after the game". Her face held an expression she was looking forward to that moment.
- UK indy wrestler Sha Samuels' gimmick is that he's a football hooligan who enjoys meat pies.
- Word of God says this was part of the inspiration for Warhammer 40,000's Orks.
- Word of God says the Warhammer Orcs are modelled after British football hooligans. Jervis Johnson is a big fan of British football, and his idea was to mock the hooligans as making them orcs: Warhammer Orcs are the same in comparison on stupidity for bricks as what bricks are to football hooligans.
- The popular table football game Subbuteo incorporated a lot of clever marketing gimmicks which meant if you had enough time and money, you could buy from a formidable catalgue of extras that meant your tabletop footballers could eventually turn out in their own stadium, complete with stands, working footlights, scoreboards, advertising hoardings, TV crews, St John's ambulancemen, cigar-smoking manager and subs in the dugout, policemen, stewards, programme salesmen, pie stall.... some fans of the game turned their Subbuteo playing areas into an art-form not unlike model railway layouts. Whilst the official Subbuteo vendor sold fans in packets of fifty to populate your model terraces, other enterprising and strictly unofficial vendors added topics the licenced dealers frowned on. In the form of Subbuteo soccer hooligans and streakers (male and female) that in an expanded rule set could be randomly deployed to disrupt matches... fully equipped riot policemen soon followed.
- Go find a fan in the brutal setting of the Warhammer spin-off, Blood Bowl. Found one? Congrats! There is a 99% chance that you have found an example.
- There's a play called Among The Thugs which is about an American writer who goes embedded in another hooligan group.
- The Allies' main tank in Red Alert 3 was crewed by them.
- Given that their base soldiers are upgunned riot police...
- There is a whole game about them named Hooligans: Storm over Europe, which is a tactical RTS. From the POV of the hooligans.
- Some of the Maceman' voice clips in Stronghold 2 are clearly intended to invoke the stereotype.
- The Simpsons' "The Cartridge Family" is a Take That to soccer in general. The crowd at an international match breaks into a riot because the game is so boring, and turns the city into a war zone.
Ye call this a riot? C'mon boys, let's take 'em to school!
- Hurricanes: Stavros Garkos, owner of the Garkos Gorgons, hired some youngsters to act as hooligans to make the World Soccer Association close the Hurricanes' stadium.
- The Ur Example to sports hooliganism in Europe may be the chariot races that took place in Ancient Rome and the later Byzantine Empire. Racers back then would be divided into teams based on the uniform colors they wore and their fans and spectators would likewise align themselves into these different camps. Much like modern football clubs, the fanbases would often be identified not just by which racing team they rooted for but also by cultural and sociopolitical issues beyond just the sport and thus, riots breaking out during games were not uncommon whenever tensions ran high. The most infamous example of these was the Nika riots in Constantinople. A fight between the "Green" and "Blue" chariot teams' fans quickly escalated into city-wide riots that killed over 30,000 people, burned down the Hagia Sophia, and nearly toppled the government of Emperor Justinian. Talk about Bread and Circuses Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Real Life semi-example: Winnie Mandela's bodyguards (read: armed thugs) were known as "Mandela United Football Club" and were modelled on one.
- The real-life example known as the Football war deserves mentioning when you take into account that the rioting from the games increased the tension between the countries which led to the war.
- Except that the tension between Honduras and El Salvador was already at the brink of the war at the time, and the rioting just triggered its start.
- The Croatian war of independence also arguably started with a football riot. And in a related conflict, the Bosnian war, a paramilitary Yugoslav group consisted of hooligan supporters of Red Star Belgrade.
- Egyptian football "Ultras" are often credited as being part of the first wave and strongest group of protesters in The Arab Spring; being by and large young, unemployed or underemployed college grads/students with little to do other than watch football and go to the gym, they were the "muscle" organizing the defense of the protests against the police. A year later, they were also involved in the country's worst football-related massacre.
- As stated above, English Football became the most iconic example of hooliganism during the 80's. Almost every club had 'firms' who would arrange punch ups with opposing firms from other sides. This would cumulate in the disaster at Heysel, at the time the whole game was a mess, with stadia crumbling and not being up to standards and loose regulations about drinking for example. Measures put into place like catch fencing would lead to Hillsbrough where even more people died. The Taylor Report which arose from those events called for several new rules and regulations like no alcohol allowed inside the stands and all seater stadiums. Despite the occasional riot breaking out the problem has been all but solved.
- The bitter irony of the whole thing is that to have a deadly crush you don't even need hooligans — they happen even when all the fans are perfectly peaceful like in Luzhniki disaster, where all that was needed for a crush that killed at least sixty seven were the ice on the steps, an untimely goal by the end of an uneventful game, and, again, a failure of the crowd control.
- This was an almost exact replay of a disaster that happened at Glasgow's Ibrox Stadium in 1971, killing 66 fans.
- Football hooliganism was so bad in Britain that following the Heysel disaster mentioned above (during which 39 Italian fans died largely as a result of the actions of English hooligans), for five years English teams were no longer permitted to play in games in the rest of Europe. In addition the already poor reputation as unruly louts that most British fans had, matters weren't helped by an unpleasant strain of bigoted xenophobia that such games tended to produce; hooligan firms have long been notorious recruiting grounds for far-right activist groups like the National Front.
- Manchester 2008. After a screen failure during the UEFA Cup Final between Scottish side Rangers and Russia's Zenit St. Petersburg, Rangers fans starting rioting throughout the city. Rangers would lose the Cup final (and the league that season). It was scenes of chaos, and seemed to have given Rangers a horrendous reputation in other countries, especially combined with other scenes in Spain.
- Glasgow Rangers fans are known to others as "the Huns". There is a very good reason for this.
- In an earlier visit to Manchester for a "friendly" against United, Glasgow Rangers fans attacked and trashed the Catholic Truth Society bookshop and religious icons outlet because... well, it had "Catholic" in the name and as such was an affront to their Protestant and Unionist sensitivities.
- Another football team with a bad reputation, Millwall, came to Manchester for a game. Forewarned, police tried to herd the fans down Wilmslow Road to the then City ground at Maine Road. The visiting London hard nuts overpowered their police escort, succeeding in gutting and emptying an Asian jewellers before order could be restored. A lot of exotic bling made it back to London...
- In the US, similar things occur, but it's more well known with American Football.
- Hunter S. Thompson noted in his 1974 Rolling Stone article "Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl" that in the relatively early years of pro football (i.e. the early to mid '60s), the main reason anyone went to a football game was to get drunk, get high (if that was their thing), and brawl. In other words, it was the counterculture's answer to baseball, which at that point was family-friendly and "America's pastime".
However, football was also the perfect sport for television, with an easy-to-see ball, relatively predictable game length, built-in commercial breaks between downs, and a great deal of action and drama on plays. While baseball was the perfect sport for radio, with its slow pace offering lots of room for commentary, it had a lot of trouble readily adapting to the new medium of television (particularly with the drama and length issues); it wasn't until The Seventies when sports broadcasters really figured out how to make baseball games on TV exciting. As a result, the football execs started to build new stadiums and try to attract a different audience—the middle-class suburban folks with TVs. Thompson was understandably dismayed.
- The city of Philadelphia is notorious for having some of the most vicious sports fans in the nation, no matter the sport. The "throwing snowballs at Santa" incident is always brought up whenever Philly sports teams are mentioned, and the Eagles' old stadium, Veterans Stadium, had a fully-functional branch of the Philadelphia Municipal Court in the basement to handle the number of fights that broke out at games.note The Guardian article linked to in the description was talking about Philadelphia Eagles fans, and called the city "the American Millwall". The 700 Level of Veterans Stadium was infamous for being where the worst of the worst among Eagles fans could be found, and was described by The Other Wiki as being known for "hostile taunting, fighting, public urination and general strangeness."
- Massachusetts is also known for sports hooliganry, with both baseball and football. After one Super Bowl, there were cars turned upside down and set on fire in Boston, and at least one murder. And after the Red Sox won the ALCS in 2004, there were celebratory riots all over New England and a death in Boston.
- West Virginia fans burn couches.
- As have Michigan State fans historically—although more usually for basketball than football. More recently, fans are much, much more likely to just make a joke about setting a couch on fire than actually do it (e.g. one MSU-based intercollegiate club Ultimate Frisbee team was called "The Burning Couch"). A small riot and some actual couch-burning did show up again after the Spartans won the 2013 Big Ten football championship, which was linked to that championship ending MSU's 25-year Rose Bowl drought (as winning the championship earned MSU the Big Ten spot in the 2014 Rose Bowl).
- Texas Tech's Jones Stadium is notorious in Big 12 circles for all sorts things being thrown from the stands. It gets worse when Texas or Texas A&M come to town.
- Basketball example: the Pacers-Pistons brawl, aka "The Malice at the Palace", which started as a fight between players before a Detroit Pistons fan threw a drink at Indiana Pacers player Ron Artest, causing the fight to spill into the stands. Artest and eight other players were suspended without pay for a total of 146 games, five of them were convicted of assault on top of it, and five fans received lifetime bans from Pistons home games.
- In baseball, Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten by angry Dodgers fans outside Dodger Stadium on Opening Day 2011.
- In Canada such supporters emerge from hockey (of course). Vancouver has had two riots in 1994 and 2011, both after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup finals.
- The first three times the Chicago Bulls won the NBA finals the city of Chicago erupted into violence in "celebration." It got so bad that during the second "threepeat" finals games Bulls players took to the airwaves basically begging the fans not to riot.
- It is not uncommon for the local police to patrol the sidelines dressed in riot gear at a high school football game at any town in Argentina, just in case the crowd gets a little too rowdy.
- As bad as hooliganism gets in Europe, it's far worse in South America, and even more so in Argentina. Estimates are 250 people died in roughly 80 years as results of the "Barra bravas" (read: gangs of hooligans), and that's excluding 300 deaths in a match played by the Argentine national squad in Peru.
- Brazil has a problem where the hooligans vandalize town celebrating instead of rioting.
- Chile has its share of "Barras Bravas" too. Principally, thanks to the most rabid fans of either Colo Colo and Universidad de Chile. Whenever these teams play against each other, it's time to run the fuck away from wherever they're playing.
- Inverted with the Danish equivalent, the "roligans", who are probably among the nicest football fans in the world ("rolig" is Danish for "peaceful").
- Israel has a team named Beitar Jerusalem, whose fans are particularly notorious for being this (coupled with hardcore xenophobia and Lower-Class Lout behaviour). Their most hardcore fans, known as La Familia, are particularly notorious in this respect. Saner fans of the club insist that only a very small portion of the fans actually act like this, and some right-wing soccer fans believe that the media, which they believe has a strong leftist bias, conveniently overlook the same behaviour from HaPoel Tel-Aviv’s fans, because their team is associated with leftist positions. (How true this accusation is will not be discussed here.)
- The infamous friendly between England and the Republic of Ireland at Landsdowne Road in 1995 was abandoned when English fans began rioting after an English goal was disallowed (Ireland were 1-0 up at the time). Many speculate that this might not have happened if the match was played at the then-traditional time for Irish home internationals in the afternoon instead of the evening as mandated by Sky, who held the match's broadcast rights. Either way, the two sides have not played against each other since.