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Football Hooligans

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"They call this a soccer riot? Come on, boys, let's take 'em to school!"

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.

Hooliganism bears a similarity to Fight Clubbing in spirit, 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, property damage, fights with police, and stampeding civilians — it's basically a Powder Keg Crowd set off by football.

It's widely thought of as a very British trope, but hooliganism in football (and other sports) is prevalent around the world (even in the United States) — and as far as football is concerned, there are some very wild Ultras in Spain, Italy and most Eastern European countries. That said, football hooliganism has been a scourge on British public life for generations, and it remains a defining British characteristic for foreigners (particularly Americans). The specific British tropes related to the phenomenon are the London Gangster and The Yardies, groups which can overlap with hooligan populations. Scotland adds another dimension with the Violent Glaswegian being part of the particularly violent Celtic-Rangers rivalry.



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    Anime & Manga 


    Comic Books 
  • Hellblazer:
    • John Constantine gets out of a sticky situation where 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 (ultimately ripping themselves apart), allowing John to escape.
    What d'you do on Saturdays, lads?
    • On another occasion, John meets a demon who is the genius spirit of football hooliganism and accepts deaths and bloodshed in the stands as his sacrifices.
  • Justice League (2018) #47, features two groups of football fans in Liverpool who turn violent when the Spectre increases resentments around the world. They stop when the effect wears off, though.
  • The Powerpuff Girls are challenged to a football game by the Rowdyruff Boys in "Anything Boys Can Do, Squirrels Can Do Better" (the Rowdyruffs' comic book debut, from Cartoon Network Action Pack #1). Bubbles gets knocked out and filling in is Twitchy, the squirrel from the very first PPG issue in that series.
  • The third volume of Stumptown features the Timbers Army, the spirited fans of the Portland Timbers. Scenes set at the opening Portland-Seattle game have Timbers chants as a wall of words that take up a fair amount of the background of every scene, advocating burning down Seattle in its entirety. And then a Timbers fan gets assaulted after the game. The league are terrified by this, as they tolerate aggressive chanting but know that any hint of real European- or Latin American-style violent hooliganism will probably destroy the sport again in the US for a generation.

    Fan Works 
  • According to The Victors Project, the Hunger Games have inspired their own hooligans in the Capitol: the Fighting Fives for District 5 and the Sixatrons for District 6. Ironically, these districts inspire such loyalty, because they are the two districts that go the longest without ever crowning a Victor, until the 26th and 28th Games, respectively. In the latter case, the Gamemakers rig the games, so the District 6 tribute can win, because the Sixatrons keep rioting when the District 6 tributes are killed.
  • In the Discworld as expanded by A.A. Pessimal, all Watch leave is cancelled when Dimwell FC note  are playing the hated Queen's Park Arrangers. The Mounted Watch are used to keep the rival sets of fans apart, and trouble happens when some misguided Dimmers fans attempt to injure the police horses. A policewoman with Firm Views on mistreatment of horses responds after this Berserk Button is pressed, and the Dimmers realise their worst nightmare is a Witch Police Constable on horseback who has a very big stick to hit people with. As well as magic.

    Film — Animation 
  • 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.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The 51st State, Robert Carlyle's character Felix De Souza is a hardcore Liverpool supporter.
  • 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 "[e]ven when they're zombies, they can't stand each other."
  • The Italian movie Eccezzziunale Veramente follows the humorous hijinks of three different football fans who all support different clubs: Felice "Tirzan" la Pezza - a Juventus supporter, Franco Alfano - an Inter Milan supporter, and Donato Cavallo - an AC Milan hooligan. Tirzan decides to drive a bus all the way to Belgium to watch his team play a European Cup tie against Anderlecht, but numerous mishaps - which include his bus being stolen outside of Paris - lead him to cross ties with Franco, who himself got tricked by his friends into believing he won the lottery and ended up in massive debt after overspending. Meanwhile, Donato clashes against an Inter hooligan after a Milan derby, and after watching him lose his conscience and his memory after slipping on a banana peel, is so guilt-ridden that he goes to pay him a visit in the hospital. The sequel, Capitolo Secondo... Me, is set fifteen years after the original: Tirzan turns a new leaf after staying in a coma following a Noodle Incident and ends up butting heads with his new neighbor - a Napoli supporter; Donato, after staying in Ibiza for over twenty years, decides to come back home to see his old girlfriend, who surprisingly had a child with the same Inter hooligan he faced off with in the previous film; finally, Franco is blackmailed by a local mafia chapter to kill a person in order to clear the debt of the cafe he frequents with his fellow Inter fans.
  • In EuroTrip, two of the protagonists run into a Manchester United fan club (in Londonnote ). The club is exaggeratedly violent, but the two of them manage to make a good impression (and convince them that they are United fans from the US), so the club welcomes them in and even gives them a ride to France for a match. The club shows up again at the climax to help save the day.
  • The Firm 2009: Football hooligans organize themselves into firms that represent their favorite team.
  • The Football Factory is a satirical mockumentary-like film based on a novel about a thirty-something in an extremist Chelsea-supporting fan club who travels around with other members attacking fans of rival clubs. When Chelsea are up against Millwall one week, tension builds in the businesses that many fans work at, because half are Chelsea fans and the other half are Millwall fans.
  • In the German film Fußball ist unser Leben some Schalke hooligans capture a football player (who is more interested in Hookers and Blow than in football) to train him themselves, because they would lose a bet (with one hooligan's house at stake) if Schalke lose.
  • Green Street has Elijah Wood's Fish out of Water American student sucked into the world of a West Ham firm.
  • In The Inbetweeners, 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."
  • Rory Breaker in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels is a black gangster and a football enthusiast. Instead of being a direct spectator, he watches footie on pub TVs. And Rory considers interruptions of the footie his Berserk Button. At best, he'll quietly refuse to turn the TV volume down. At worst, he'll get a Booze Flamethrower and the offender will end up becoming a Man on Fire.
  • In the beginning of the third act of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spidey wakes up in a municipal jail in a random Dutch town with the kindest hooligans you could ever imagine. They put a shirt on him because he looked cold and they only politely say goodbye and good luck when Spidey, who’s just a random American teenager to them, breaks the lock on the cell with his super strength and leaves. They shut back the cell too when he leaves.
  • In the Italian film Ultras, a middle-aged football hooligan from Naples struggles to find balance between loyalties to his old comrades, guidance to the new generation of the gang, and his own desire for a quiet, peaceful life after decades of violence.

  • 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.
  • The non-fiction book Among the Thugs by Bill Buford is dedicated to exploring this phenomenon as a whole.
  • The novel Awaydays by Kevin Sampson follows a crew of hooligans called The Pack, who supported Tranmere Rovers in the late '70s.
  • 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.
  • According to the Dresden Files short story "Last Call", this phenomenon is caused by maenads putting enchantments on craft beers served at sporting events. Dresden had to stop them when they tried to do this with several cases of Mac's beer meant to be served at a Bulls game.
  • Tam Lin and the other bodyguards from House of the Scorpion is described by El Patron as having been "breaking heads outside a soccer field in Scotland," though it turns out he was also a Scottish nationalist terrorist.
  • Guy Gavriel Key's The Sarantine Mosaic, which takes place in a thinly disguised Constantinople, features warring factions of chariot race fans (the Greens and the Blues). The book describes a riot by the factions that nearly unseated the Emperor, which actually happened in real life (see the Nika Riots below).
  • In the 1970s, 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 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.
  • Suggs' memoir That Close includes a chapter about his teenage involvement in a Chelsea hooligan gang, until a particularly nasty trip to Charlton Athletic scared him straight.
  • Given the Discworld treatment in Unseen Academicals. Lord Vetinari tries to bring order to the ancient sport of "foot-the-ball" in order to tame the football hooligans (and more importantly, the thuggish "Faces" that run the mobs of opposing teams) that have been causing trouble in the city.
  • Irvine Welsh's novels are rife with hooligans:
    • 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.
    • Skinner from The Bedroom Secrets Of The Master Chefs is a supporter of the Hibs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Bernard tries to get beaten up by some skinheads to get out of doing his tax forms in the pilot episode of Black Books. All his insults go over their heads until he notices one of them is wearing a Millwall scarf.
    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..."
  • Burnistoun takes a couple shots at the famous Glasgow football rivalries:
    • A recurring gag in Series 3 subverts this. In the sketches, rowdy-looking fans of the Burnistoun United football team attempting to come up with rude songs to sing at the opposing team, but tend to make them overly nice and polite instead.
    • In one sketch, police are stationed at the football game to prevent a riot. However, they end up provoking one instead after one of the officers pepper-sprays the goalie of the team he doesn't support. Quality polis indeed.
  • Casualty had an episode in which crowd trouble at a football match resulted in several home and away fans being hospitalised.
  • In Australia, The Chaser's War On Everything had a skit involving selling balaclavas and (fake) knuckledusters in club colors to Canterbury Bulldogs fans.
  • EastEnders had a gang of them, run by vicious gangster Terry Bates, appear as recurring villains between 2007 and 2009. In a heated discussion with Jase, who used to be a member of the gang, Minty reminds him of the real-life Heysel and Hillsborough disasters mentioned belownote .
  • 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. Also, when Sherlocknote  finally meets him, he sees M watching Arsenal and tells him that he now has one more reason to hate him.
  • On Frasier, Daphne has had much exposure to the phenomenon. Her parents 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.
    • An earlier episode which saw Frasier invite Niles to a restaurant and ask if Niles' wife Maris would like to join them had the following line:
      Niles: Oh, I'm afraid not. Maris had a very poor experience last time she was there. An italian soccer team was seated at the next table. Maris said she was in the mood for a goose and, perhaps inevitably, tragedy ensued.note 
  • In an episode of George And The Dragon, George gets arrested for hooliganism, though what he did was mild compared to today.
  • The Goodies:
    • One episode about soccer hooliganism had ballet eventually replacing soccer as the national pastime. This was then ruined by ballet hooligans (which has indeed happened historically, at least in response to the opening of The Rite of Spring).
    • Another episode had Tim and Graeme run in, cheering, chanting, and dressed in red-white scarves and woolly hats:
  • One episode of Life On Mars dealt with a murder tied to the upcoming Manchester Derby (City vs. United). At the end, a furious Sam rants at the hooligan Perp of the Week about the future of football in England, because he knows Heysel and Hillsborough will happen in the future (as detailed in the Real Life section):
    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?
  • In Necessary Roughness has the US football version. A fan of the opposing team the main character T.K. plays for confronts T.K. at a club in the season one finale, pissed his team lost. So the hooligan shoots T.K. for leading his team to victory.
  • In Series 5 of Plebs, the boys try to drum up business in their bar by appealing to chariot racing fans, the Roman equivalent of football hooligans. This ends in a massive Bar Brawl when two rival firms wind up in the bar at the same time.
  • Documented in Danny Dyer's (of The Football Factory) series The Real Football Factories and The Real Football Factories International.
  • A song in Rutland Weekend Television called "Football" has some lyrics describing the phenomenon:
    I 'ack limbs off for Newcastle
    I rape for Luton Town
    For the Rangers I kill strangers
    And kick police horses down
    I set fire to referees 'oo let opponents score
    Yes, football is the game that we adore
  • Mike Myers had a recurring fictional TV show sketch on Saturday Night Live called "Scottish Soccer Hooligans Weekly."
  • Ted Lasso has a subversion. The Pub Regulars (Baz, Jeremy, and Paul) would be this were it not for the fact they choose to spend most of their free time drinking in the pub and have Mae to rein in their worst behavior:
    Baz: I swear, if we actually win this match, I will burn this pub to the ground! (Mae gives him a Death Glare) I will… knock over a chair! (Mae continues glaring) ... I will channel my raging enthusiasm into ways to help my community. (Mae smiles and goes back to serving drinks)
  • 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 Few" by Billy Bragg is a disgusted attack on the far-right-wing hooligan element among England's national football supporters.
  • "The Firm" by Funker Vogt is about hooliganism. The video is of a firm getting together to fight their rivals.
  • "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.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • UK indy wrestler Sha Samuels' gimmick is that he's a football hooligan who enjoys meat pies.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Word Of God says the Orcs from Warhammer are modelled after British football hooligans. Games developer 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." This was carried over wholesale with the Warhammer 40,000 incarnation of Orks (one early Sourcebook was titled 'Ere we go! 'Ere we go! 'Ere we go!— and some editions give their Boyz the "'Ere we go!" special rule that allows them to get into combat faster). In the Dawn of War games, one of the Bigmek's lines is the classic "Come and 'ave a go if you think you're 'ard enough!".
    • Any fan in the setting of the Warhammer Fantasy Football spin-off, Blood Bowl, has about a 99% chance of being a football hooligan. The game itself represents this with random chances of riots, pitch invasions and other fan violence happening whenever there is a kick-off. Fans will also beat-up any player pushed into the crowed.
  • Mentioned in several Shadowrun sourcebooks, mostly that rioting football crowds are a very convenient way for runners to cover up other crimes.
  • 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 catalogue 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, the works. Some fans of the game turned their Subbuteo playing areas into an art form not unlike model railway layouts. While 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; photo is SFW) that in an expanded rule set could be randomly deployed to disrupt matches. Fully equipped riot policemen soon followed.

  • Among The Thugs is about an American writer who gets embedded in a British hooligan group.

    Video Games 
  • In Agents of Mayhem, the playable character Red Card is a German football fan who was recruited into MAYHEM after riling up a mob to stop a Legion attack on a championship game.
  • The Allies' main tank in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is crewed by hooligans. Given that their base soldiers are upgunned riot police, it's not a good mixture.
  • videoGame/Hooligans Storm Over Europe, which is a tactical RTS specifically about hooligans — from the hooligans' point of view.
  • The resident evil team in Pokémon Sword and Shield, the Team Yell are a combination of this and Punks, as they are hardcore fans of Marnie, one of the game's rivals. As it turns out however, they're actually Gym Trainers for Marnie's brother Piers and are supporting her in his stead.
  • In the Street Fighter series, the English fighter Cammy White is stoic, proper (if slightly icy) young lady, befitting her role as an MI6 agent, but so engrained is this trope that one of her command throw attacks is named “Hooligan Combination”.
  • Some of the Maceman' voice clips in Stronghold 2 are clearly intended to invoke the stereotype.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • Mother's Basement's summary video for Jojos Bizarre Adventure contains the line:
    - "Jojo sets out for a nearby town that Dio's taken over to kill his evil brother once and for all, but first he's gotta take out a zombified army of the worst, most violent people Dio could find in London — presumably football fans, and also Jack the Ripper."
  • Unbiased History depicts the ancient Britons as the Norf FC meme described above.

    Western Animation 
  • The Angry Beavers: In "Soccer? I Hardly Know 'Er!", Daggett turns out to be able to channel his bad temper into being a skilled soccer goalie. However, he gets so into the game he acts like a hooligan (complete with bad accent), ranting on about how it doesn't matter how the game itself plays out, because there will always a fight afterward.
  • Hurricanes: Stavros Garkos, owner of the Garkos Gorgons, hires some youngsters to act as hooligans to make the World Soccer Association close the Hurricanes' stadium.
  • 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 too boring (one team idly passes the ball around the center circle as the opposition just watch) and turns the city into a war zone.
      Willie: Ye call this a soccer riot? C'mon boys, let's take 'em to school!
    • In "Marge Gamer," Lisa joins a soccer team (with Homer as a ref) and "flops" her way to victory. When called out on it, she watches a documentary about flopping. The documentary detailed one game which caused a riot that lasted for 23 years. Another game, in Brazil, and was so severe, it was enough to make a statue of the Virgin Mary come to life and "beat the living snot out of everyone."
    • Same trope, different sport in "Lisa on Ice": when Bart refuses to take a penalty shot against Lisa, allowing their hockey game to end in a tie, it turns the crowd into a riot.
      Hans Moleman: We came for blooooood!
    • In "Missionary: Impossible", Homer and Bart watch Do Shut Up, a British sitcom about a family of soccer hooligans on PBS.
      (a hooligan father and son sit next to a Christmas tree drinking beer from large steins as the Sex Pistols' "No Feelings" plays)
      Hooligan Son: Jolly sodding Xmas, Major. (holds up a beer bottle wrapped in a bow) CHOKE ON IT! (hits his father's head with it)
      Hooligan Father: Oh, crikey, you gave me a smash on the noggin last year! (grabs a tire iron and hits his son with it)
      Hooligan Mother: Not in my parlor, you don't! (she throws hot water from a tea kettle on them)
      Hooligan Father: Me eyes!
      Hooligan Son: Oh, I'm scalded, I am!

    Real Life — Football 
Ok, let's get this out of the way. This happens in every sport, but football is the most popular sport in the world and there is a reason it's the stereotypical hooligan attraction.
  • Football hooliganism is largely associated with England, and for good reason:
    • In the 1980s, "la malaise anglaise" was so prevalent that Margaret Thatcher formed a "war cabinet" to deal with the problem. The lowlight was the Heysel disaster in 1985, in which 39 mostly Italian Juventus fans were killed in a stampede instigated by the opposing Liverpool supporters (in Belgium — it was the final of the European Cup). This led to all English teams being banned from European competition for several years and the need for heightened security not just in England, but throughout Europe.
    • In a bitter irony, the government's measures to try and stop hooliganism led to the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which killed 97 fans, most of them Liverpool supporters. To prevent hooligans from taking potshots at each other, the fans were herded into pens which were fenced off from each other and the pitch; when too many fans were herded into one pen, they couldn't escape the crush because of the fences. When policemen saw them trying to climb the fence, they assumed they were hooligans and shoved them back into the crowd. Initial public reaction suggested hooliganism was at fault (and the Sun printed a particularly nasty and notorious article in this regard). The investigation into Hillsborough led to the 1990 Taylor Report, which revealed the truth of what happened and issued recommendations to both curb hooliganism and ensure crowd safety. These worked; the British have largely stamped out the worst problems, and British police are now considered the experts worldwide on handling hooliganism. It's also contributed to the explosion in popularity of the English Premier League.
    • Interestingly, by far the most notorious of all English clubs for hooliganism is Millwall, which isn't in the Premier League at all and hasn't been for quite some time; their most famous chant is "No one likes us; we don't care," which should tell you all you need to know. Groups of Millwall supporters have been known to fight each other (thinking the other group supported their opponents), and in 2017 one Millwall supporter stood up to three knife-wielding terrorists with the battle cry, "Fuck you, I'm Millwall!" (they kept stabbing him, but he wouldn't go down, so they gave up and left). You don't want to pick a fight with these guys. During their 10 year rivalry with Leeds, several fans were also banned for life from attending games for taunting Leeds fans over the below mentioned Galatasaray stabbing incident.
    • One infamous "friendly" match in 1995 at Lansdowne Road was between England and the Republic of Ireland, which had several political overtones and a controversial call when an English equalizing goal was disallowed due to the player who scored the goal being offsides. The ensuing riot by English fans, instigated by a group of neo-Nazis named Combat 18, led to the game being abandoned, and the two countries wouldn't play each other again for eighteen years, by which time the political issues that had fueled the violence had abated enough. Many speculate that the riot wouldn't have happened if the match were played in the afternoon rather than the evening (which wasn't traditional — Sky wanted to show it in prime time).
    • English fans at Euro 2020note  matches in London raised the question of whether England had really put the lid on hooliganism. Wouldn't you know it, England made it all the way to the final and played nearly all of their matches in front of nearly full stands at Wembley Stadium. The combination of the recent COVID-19 Pandemic (meaning most fans hadn't had an opportunity to see a live match in more than a year), England on the cusp of not actually fizzling out (they even beat Germany!), Brexit-induced mistrust of other European countries, and the general political and social elements of hooliganism combined to make a humiliating show of public drunkenness, racial abuse, viciously taunting children, booing during opponent's national anthems, and general misbehaviour. In the semifinal against Denmark, one idiot shone a laser in the face of the Danish goalkeeper while he was facing a penalty, the kind of thing you'd see at a gang-infested game deep in South Americanote , leading to calls to ban fans from the final against Italy (they didn't). At said final, England scored just two minutes into the match, and drunken hooligans overwhelmed the security and barged into the venue without tickets — only to see England lose again on penalties, which the rest of the world thought was hilarious and appropriate. Meanwhile, the hooligans to the loss reacted by fighting in the streets and hurling more racial abuse (every English player who missed happened to be black), leading to condemnations from as high up as the Prime Minister and The British Royal Family. So problem not really solved.
    • Older Than Print: In 1314, Edward II banned football (at the time played using a pig's bladder) fearing that the game could lead to social unrest and even treason. He might have been on to something.
  • Scotland has its own share of hooligans; the most infamous cross over with the Violent Glaswegian archetype in the form of the "Old Firm", the rivalry between Glasgow clubs Celtic and Rangers. It's particularly notorious for its political and religious overtones in relation to The Troubles (Celtic being the Catholic/Republican team and Rangers being the Protestant/Unionist team). It got to the point where BBC war correspondent Kate Adie, who was covering sectarian protests, noted that you could tell when they were going to start by looking at the football schedule. Scottish hooligans gained a global reputation when Rangers fans started rioting in Manchester at the 2008 UEFA Cup Final contested against Zenit Saint Petersburg (another team that gained infamy for their questionable supporters), when a screen showing the match in Piccadilly Gardens failed. Rangers fans also gained prominence for the 2022 Europa League final in Seville, but for much more positive reasons: the good behavior of their 100k away supporters culminated with zero arrests or violent incidents of any capacity.
  • The Football War between El Salvador and Honduras is often cited as the worst example of football hooliganism — 'cause, you know, there was a war. The war itself was caused by a variety of issues unrelated to football. However, it was triggered during the qualifying rounds for the 1970 FIFA World Cup. The two countries played three matches against each other (one in El Salvador, one in Honduras, and the final match in Mexico City), and fans of both countries clashed violently with each other at every match. El Salvador (who incidentally won two of the three games) wound up severing diplomatic ties with Honduras, claiming that "the government of Honduras has not taken any effective measures to punish these crimes which constitute genocide, nor has it given assurances of indemnification or reparations for the damages caused to Salvadorans." Read that again — that's football violence escalating to accusations of genocide.
  • The Yugoslav Wars were pointedly influenced by football riots. Croatia's war of independence started with a football riot. In Bosnia, a Serbian paramilitary group consisted largely of hooligan supporters of Red Star Belgrade, who even won the European Cup/Champions League in the midst of all. Even today, the Red Star-Partizan rivalry in Belgrade is considered one of the most violent in Europe. It's not pretty down there in the Balkans, and it's gotten worse now that (a) none of these teams are very good anymorenote  (b) the Communist government isn't around to keep everyone under control.
  • In Egypt, Al Ahly ultras are often credited with being the first wave and strongest group of supporters in the Revolution of 2011. Since they were largely young, unemployed or underemployed students or recent graduates with little else to do, they were the "muscle" organizing the defense of protests against the police.note  A year later, they were also victims of the country's worst football-related massacre, which even caused the cancellation of the league for two years.
  • In Israel, the most notorious hooligans are supporters of Beitar Jerusalem. Beitar's hardcore fans (known as la Familia) are particularly known not just for hooliganism, but also for hardcore xenophobia and Lower-Class Lout behavior. The large majority of Beitar's fanbase are descendants of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews who were expelled from North Africa and Arab countries after 1948, who had historically been economically and socially disadvantaged in Israel; that may explain their extreme hatred of Muslims (reflected in some of their more charming chants as "Death to the Arabs", "May your village burn down" and "Muhammad is a fag son of a whore").note  Beitar doesn't so much have one particular rival team as they abuse every other team mercilessly. Other teams in Israel have passionate supporters, but their behavior is usually pretty civilized. Even the most intense rivalry, the Tel Aviv derby ([HaPoel] Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv), rarely gets more intense than the usual trash talk between fans and the occasional fist fight.
  • In Italy, among the many rivalries in the top flight, the most infamous is between capital city arch-enemies Roma and Lazio. When derby day comes in Rome, the Stadio Olimpico's surroundings turn into a battleground. This was the setting for Italy's first football related tragedy in 1979, when a Roma supporter shot a flare across the stadium, hit a Lazio supporter in the eye, and killed him. In 2004, a derby match was marred by rumours that a police car had hit a child outside the stadium (which turned out to be false), sparking riots that forced the match's abandonment. The more hardline fans have a particular reputation for being hardcore fascists — one banner Lazio fans displayed to Roma fans in 1999 read, "Auschwitz is your land, the ovens are your houses," and a Roma hooligan neo-Nazi shot and killed a Napoli fan on his way to a game Roma weren't even playing in (2014 Coppa Italia final against Fiorentina). The Italian FA cites the second-worst rivalry as between Atalanta Bergamo and Brescia (a rivalry that is well-documented by a video by COPA90), with a close third being Hellas Verona and Livorno (whose fans are very politically opposed — far-right for Hellas, far-left for Livorno).
  • Inverted in Denmark, which has a group of fans they call roligans (rolig is Danish for "peaceful"), who make it a point to be the nicest football fans you'll ever encounter. Inverted in the sense that they exist — Denmark has real hooligans like everyone else, like the one in 2007 who attacked the referee in a Euro 2008 qualifier against neighbours Sweden and threw the result in their rival's favour.
  • As bad as hooliganism gets in Europe, it's far worse in South America, which takes its football deadly seriously:
    • Argentina has the "barras bravas" (read: hooligan gangs), who over the last 80 years have been responsible for an estimated 250 deaths (and that's not counting the 300 people who died during a single Argentina-Peru match). Its most famous rivalry is between the two big Buenos Aires sides, Boca Juniors and River Plate; during a 2015 Copa Libertadores match (basically the South American equivalent of the Champions League) between the two, Boca fans pepper-sprayed the River players as they came out of the tunnel for the second half, which led to Boca's disqualification. It culminated in 2018, when the two sides met in the final (not something anyone was expecting), and before the second leg, Boca's team bus was attacked by River hooligans on their way to the stadium, and a pepper spray bomb launched by the police ended up inside the bus, injuring about two thirds of the entire squad. Shocked observers demanded that River forfeit the final to Boca, but now everyone wanted to see the match, and the authorities took the teams all the way to Madrid to finish the tie (which River won).
    • Brazil famously treats football as if it were a religion, but that doesn't mean they're particularly orderly about it; weirdly, their celebrations tend to be more violent than their venting after a loss.
    • Chile has its share of "barras bravas"; its biggest rivalry is between Santiago's Colo Colo and Universidad de Chile, and when these two teams are playing, the rest of the city universally stays the hell away.
  • Turkey's hooligans mostly follow the "Big Three" football clubs, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş, and Fenerbahçe; their firms have traditionally been extremely well organized and well armed — and when the national team plays, they have been known to pool their resources. In 2000, a clash with British hooligans left two Brits dead, leading to a government crackdown, but not before also leading to a revenge hit by several English hooligan groups at the UEFA Cup final the next week. In 2013, the Beşiktaş and Galatasaray firms lent support and equipment to anti-government protesters, which started on Beşiktaş turf.
  • Indonesia is not known for being particularly good at football, but they do love it to death, and almost all the big clubs have hooligan groups who will readily start a full-blow riot whenever they play another big club. This, sadly, culminated in such tragedies like the 2022 stampede in Kanjuruhan Stadium, in which several supporters of the losing team invaded the pitch and demanded the players and offcials' explanations for their defeat (Arema FC, the team in question, were until recently undefeated by Persebaya Surabaya). A stampede insued, killing at least 125.
  • American soccer (such as it is) has a reputation for attracting fans who aren't into the sport so much as the European sporting atmosphere, and that can include hooliganism. The worst in this respect are the Portland Timbers and their "Timbers Army", which openly admits that it's all (mostly) just for show. Unless there's a political protest in the city.. The real hooligans are the soccer parents, who will fight anyone who impugns their kid's honor, including other parents, their kid's opponents, their kid's coaches, and the officials.
  • Mexico has some serious hooligans, especially for their national team. This creates issues when you take into account that (a) Mexico's national team is talented but a perennial underachiever, (b) Mexico has all manner of political issues, and (c) they end up playing every year against the United States and (gasp) don't always win. Highlights include: a 1998 World Cup loss to Germany that led to a riot that killed a person; throwing full cups at opponents taking corner kicks, which often aren't water or beer;note  a 2021 Nations League final match against the U.S. where they threw bottles at the American players (one of which concussed Gio Reyna); and the fanbase's refusal to cease their infamous "puto" chant, despite it being a homophobic slur, leading to FIFA banning fans from the team's first two 2022 World Cup qualifying matches.
  • Bulgarian football supporters earned themselves international notoriety in October 2019, when during a home game against England for the Euro 2020 qualifier, they hurled racist abuse at black players on the English team, including monkey noises and stiff-arm salutes. Some were also seen wearing clothing with "UEFA Mafia: No Respect" branded on it, a direct Take That! at the UEFA's "Respect" campaign against racism in European football. The racism of the Bulgarian fans was so virulent and disruptive that the game had to be stopped twice over it, Bulgarian captain Ivelin Popov spent halftime pleading with the fans to cut it out (but other Bulgarian players and the coach claimed not to have heard anything), and the English team considered abandoning the game in protest — but they didn't, instead taking revenge on the field and thrashing them 6-0. The affair led to the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov, the head of Bulgaria's football association, as well as a widespread debate over the intersection of sport and nationalism in Europe. In a sad irony, several of the black English players would be victims of abuse by English fans after their own performance in the ensuing tournament (listed above).
  • France:
    • Whether the national team loses or wins a match (particularly during FIFA World Cup / UEFA Euro times), you'll pretty much always hear of riots and burned cars there after said matches. Quite infamously, such things tend to happen and involve members of the Algerian diaspora in France whenever Algeria plays against France or wins matches in important competitions.
    • The chaos surrounding the May 28, 2022 UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis escalated to quasi-diplomatic crisis when France's minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin and Sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra falsely put all the blame on "Liverpool hooligans who bought 40.000 fake tickets". It turned out there was a whole unruly mob of young French people from the nearby Seine-Saint-Denis banlieue who came at the stadium and caused all sorts of troubles (there were multiple reports of aggressions, threats with machetes, thefts and sexual assaults) and were massively allowed in the stadium without tickets due to very lenient stadium stewards with the same social background. The lack of security measures, the brutal anti-riot police response that hit British and Spanish supporters who didn't deserve it (and in some cases were already shocked by the aforementioned unruly mob if not victims of it) and the French governmental efforts to cover up that latter aspect (including Darmanin's lie) only made things worse and painted a pretty terrible picture of France's sports events and security issues two years before the Olympic Games of Paris. Some have speculated that the incidents weren't for nothing in the sizeable win of seats by the far-right party Rassemblement National at the legislative elections a couple weeks later, since the party advocates for tougher police responses and measures against delinquency from the banlieues.
    • In terms of French club football, the rivalry between Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain is the most infamous and violent without a shadow of a doubt, a rivalry that is not only on sporting terms but also between the clubs' respective owners and most especially their hooligans. The first report of an incident between the two sets of supporters was in 1975, when Marseille ultras attacked PSG's team bus after the game over refereeing decisions they felt were favoring the Parisians; it would only get worse from there, with the biggest incident happening in 2009 after a league match between the two sides was postponed due to three PSG players having tested positive for swine flu — PSG and OM ultras, having already arrived at the stadium, promptly started fighting one another leading to 20 injuries and 20 arrests. Finally, when PSG made it to the UEFA Champions League final in 2020 after beating RB Leipzig in the semifinals, one man was attacked by OM ultras simply for wearing a PSG shirt out in the open; when the Parisians lost the final to Bayern Munich, OM fans came down the streets to celebrate their rivals' loss that meant their team would remain the only French side to have won the Champions League for the time being.
      • Paris Saint-Germain's ultras groups were for some time locked in a Civil War between its two major factions, the British hooligans-influenced Kop of Boulogne and the Italian ultras-inspired Virage Auteuil, which culminated in then-club president Robin Leproux to kick all organized support groups out of Parc des Princes in 2010 after the death of a fan due to infighting. Since they couldn't show their support to the main team anymore, the ultras decided to attend the games of the club's women's section, which turned out to be their greatest ally for their return to the stadium. In 2016, the ultras — now united as the Collectif Ultras Paris — were once again allowed back into the Parc des Princes on the condition that they would never fight against one another ever again lest they would be banned from attending matches for good.

    Real Life — Other Sports 
  • The Ur-Example of sports hooliganism in Europe is 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 — Red, White, Blue, and Green — 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 — 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, where a fight between the fans of the Green and Blue chariot teams (by then the only ones of significance, the Reds and Whites having small bases and aligned with the Greens and Blues respectively) quickly escalated into city-wide riots that burned down the Hagia Sophia and nearly toppled the government of Emperor Justinian, only being put down by the intervention of General Belisarius, who put them down by reportedly killing over 30,000 people (somewhere around 10% of the city's total population). The rest were cleared out by convincing them that the Emperor had always supported their side. Talk about Bread and Circuses Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • What the US lacks in soccer hooliganism, it makes up for in American Football:
    • Hunter S. Thompson, in his 1974 Rolling Stone article "Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl", credits this to football in The '60s being the counterculture's answer to baseball; while baseball was family-friendly and "America's pastime", football was what you watched if you wanted to get drunk, get high (if that was your thing), and get into fights. Things only changed when sports on TV became a thing, and football was much better suited for TV than baseballnote  — the explosion in popularity led to NFL owners building bigger stadiums to attract a richer, more middle-class clientele. Thompson was understandably dismayed.
    • The city of Philadelphia is notorious for having some of the nation's most vicious fans in any sport, but its football team, the Eagles, has probably the worst of the bunch. The basement of the old Veterans Stadium had a fully-functional branch of the Philadelphia Municipal Court (known unofficially as "Eagles Court"),note  where brawlers could be charged right away. The worst of them congregated in the Vet's "700 Level", which The Other Wiki describes as being known for "hostile taunting, fighting, public urination, and general strangeness." Steven Wells, writing for The Guardian, called Philadelphia "the NFL's equivalent of Millwall." The most infamous incident is when the fans booed Santa and threw snowballs at him — although this happened in The '60s, it's still brought up when unruly Philly fans are mentioned. And it came to a head in 2018, when the Eagles finally won the Super Bowl and the fans promptly lost their shit, to the point where the city preemptively covered every lightpole in the city with grease in anticipation of people trying to climb them. (Didn't stop 'em.) This clip from The Daily Show makes fun of Philly's general reputation.
    • Boston is a close second in the country for sports hooliganism, and with the New England Patriots' run of success in recent decades, their celebrations have turned more and more violent. Cars get turned upside-down and set on fire, and at least one person was killed in Boston at one such riot.note 
    • The Raiders have bounced around the West over the years (started in Oakland, moved to Los Angeles, moved back to Oakland, and now in Las Vegas), but wherever they go, their fans (collectively known as the "Raider Nation") have a particular reputation for thuggishness. In L.A. in particular, the team's distinctive silver and black colors are associated with gang violence, and Raider fans have been known to follow their team to nearby stadiums in places like San Diego, Anaheim, and San Francisco, leading to special precautions in those places.
    • Even College Football has its share of hooliganism, especially as the fans are almost all young, impressionable, inebriated college students. Michigan State and West Virginia fans have a habit of burning couches (though both colleges have done it less since the '90s), and Texas Tech is notorious for throwing things from the stands, mostly tortillas though sometimes more damaging items (especially when rivals Texas or Texas A&M come to town). The town of State College has its own set of riot police to deal with the aftermath of Penn State games.
    • And all of this is amplified by Americans' love of guns; some politicians have led efforts at the state and local level to allow fans to carry handguns into publicly funded stadiums (which is at least 90% of them). The third world can tell you: do not arm these people.
  • While baseball is considered a sweet Everytown, America sort of outing, it does have its share of hooligans:
    • The Philadelphia Phillies are the usual culprit. One game in 2009 started with Philly fans shining laser pointers into the eyes of the opposing St. Louis Cardinals, and ended with a Cardinals fan being fatally shot.note 
    • The Boston Red Sox have similarly violent fans, especially when it comes to their hated rivals, the New York Yankees. At least one person was killed in a celebratory riot in Boston after the team made an improbable comeback to beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series in 2004. In the old days, the Red Sox also had a riotous fan group called the "Royal Rooters", who once attacked a group of fellow Boston fans thinking "their" seats had been sold to them.
    • Although California seems like a generally mellow place, the rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers is always heated. They actually inherited it from when both teams played in New York, with the Dodgers drawing from blue-collar Brooklyn and Queens and the Giants drawing from upper-class Manhattan, leading to something of a Slobs vs. Snobs dynamic. It actually replicated itself a little bit in California, as San Francisco was long the center of California's money elite while L.A. was the rising boomtown metropolis full of starving artists. Neither side has a high opinion of the other. It culminated in an incident at the first game of the season in 2011, when a Giants fan in L.A. was beaten to within an inch of his life.
    • "Ten-Cent Beer Night" was an ill-advised promotion in Cleveland where you could get a beer for ten cents. On that night, there was so much demand they ran out of beer, and the fans ended up storming the field and forcing both teams' players to fight back against them.
    • "Disco Demolition Night", the incident that marked the turning point where disco music fell out of favor, started as a promotion by the Chicago White Sox and local rock music DJ Steve Dahl. Patrons could gain admission to a double-header between the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers for only 98 cents if they brought a disco record with them. Between the two games, all of the vinyl thus collected would be blown up in the middle of the field. A combination of anti-disco sentiment from the crowd and prodigious amounts of alcohol (as they'd learned nothing from the aforementioned Ten-Cent Beer Night and had a beer discount that day) led to a riot when the demolition took place, with the White Sox forced to forfeit the second game of the night.
    • In Chicago, the "Crosstown Classic" between the White Sox and the Cubs blew up into serious inter-fan violence on July 2019. News reports focused on two gangs of girl fans laying into each other as stewards tried to restore order.
  • Basketball violence in America tends to be defined by the "Malice at the Palace", a brawl between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers in 2004. A Pistons fan threw a drink at the Pacers' Ron Artest, who chased him into the stands, attacked a completely different spectator and started a fight between the players and fans. Artest and eight other players were suspended without pay for a total of 146 games (Artest getting the worse of it, as he would be suspended for the rest of the season), five of them were convicted of assault on top of it, and five fans received lifetime bans from Pistons home games, including the one who threw the drink and incited the fighting to begin with.note  But this isn't the first time that widespread violence has broken out among Pistons fans — downtown celebrations following the Bad Boys' second title in 1990 led to a citywide riot that spread into the suburbs of River Rouge and Roseville, and became notable for a fatal hit-and-run in front of a convenience store. Other places have themselves dealt with basketball violence, too. Colleges are notorious for setting fire to couches during "March Madness" (the big college basketball tournament), and the city of Chicago had some very violent celebrations when Michael Jordan and the Bulls started winning titles, to the point that Bulls players took to the airwaves basically begging the fans not to riot.
  • Canada has three big stereotypes in fiction: it's really cold, the people are really nice, and the people really love hockey. The last bit is true, and it can sometimes manifest itself violently (contradicting the nice-guy stereotype):
    • Montreal is known for not reacting quietly to anything that happens to the hometown Canadiens, whether positive or negative — you're advised not to park too close to the Bell Centre when the Habs are playing a big game, because the fans might choose to trash your car. The most famous hockey riot in Montreal took place way back in 1955, when the Habs' best player, Maurice "the Rocket" Richard, was suspended for the rest of the season and the playoffs for a violent on-ice incident with a linesman. This had socio-cultural implications — the Francophone fanbase thought the suspension was motivated by racism by the largely Anglophone NHL bigwigs, and when league president Clarence Campbell made the unfortunate choice to see a game in Montreal shortly after the suspension, the fans pelted him with whatever they could find. Then someone set off a tear-gas bomb, which led them to evacuate the building and force the Canadiens to forfeit the game.
    • Vancouver has picked up this reputation as the hometown Canucks have picked up a reputation for Every Year They Fizzle Out; their two most notorious riots happened after the team lost a decisive Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 1994 and 2011. The 2011 riot was particularly interesting because it hit the Internet, whose denizens were befuddled as to why nice-guy Canadians were suddenly turning violent (and also the two people who appeared to be making out in the middle of the street).
  • You wouldn't think cricket would lend itself to riots, being stereotypically associated with the Quintessential British Gentleman who'll break for some tea. But...
    • The Sydney Riot of 1879 (which is Older Than Radio) was an incident at an England-Australia match where a controversial umpiring call, which went in England's favour, sparked the irate Aussies into storming the pitch and attacking the English cricketers.
    • More recently, the 2019-20 Test series between England and South Africa was marred by an incident in which an England player nearly jumped into the stands to attack a fan who was barracking him after he was dismissed — something you really don't want to have happen when one is armed with a cricket bat. Stewards had to step in and get in between them. They also had to detain an England fan who directed racial abuse at a black South African player, apparently not getting the memo that The Apartheid Era had ended.
  • Boxing, despite the inherent violence in watching a couple of guys pummel the hell out of each other, has usually been contained. But every so often, a riot will be touched off because of irate fans protesting the referee's call. In one infamous 1996 fight, a riot was begun by Riddick Bowe's security detail pushing rival boxer Andrew Golota, who responded, naturally, with punches; another security guy hit Golota on the head with his walkie-talkie. A huge melee ensued between irate fans and the boxer's entourages, with HBO's ringside boxing commentators caught in the thick of it; HBO's cameras ensured the brawl was caught on live national TV. Boxing legend George Foreman, part of HBO's team, attempted to get the enraged fans to knock it off, but they didn't listen, so he instead helped his fellow commentators escape unharmed. The aftermath saw 10 arrested and 17 injured.

Alternative Title(s): Soccer Hooligans