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Old 04-09-2003, 01:18 PM   #1
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Soccer Hooliganism

Stumbled onto two interesting articles today on the topic.
The scourge of England

John Brewin

Watching Fulham's capitulation to Blackburn on Monday, it was easy to tell when at least one player was on the ball without even looking up.

Tugay: Abused by Fulham fans. (Picture/GettyImages)

Every time Tugay Kerimoglu, Rovers' Turkish midfielder, got a touch, a chorus of catcalls and boos rang out at him, in reference to his nationality and his spat with David Beckham during last week's Euro 2004 qualifier. His colleague Hakan Sukur also came in for abuse, and the striker's two goals must have been made all the sweeter.

It was just the latest example of jingoistic and small-minded behaviour from a distressing football sub-culture. And, sadly, this is a group that seems unlikely to disappear any time soon. At last week's match at the Stadium of Light it was there for all to see. As tempers boiled on the pitch, a litany of racist and offensive chants were also clearly audible to anyone at the match, watching it on the television or bending their ear to the radio.

And at moments of national celebration - the goals from Darius Vassell and Beckham - the idiot brigade all but did their best to spoil it for the rest of us. A band of pig-necked, shaven-headed, baseball-capped lowlife chose to cavort on the pitch with the players, throwing a series of inciting gestures at the Turkish fans - and even players - and hugging their anoraked/replica-shirted brethren in a homo-erotic manner usually frowned on in such circles.

It was an enduring and pitiful image. To the rest of Europe it must have been further confirmation, as if it were really needed, of the nature of the English football fan as brutish and brainless.

These scenes and those before the game, where leading hooligans, or 'top boys' as they are known in the rather juvenile vernacular of the soccer thug, turned up to confront the Turks, show that, despite the optimism of last summer's trouble-free World Cup, the little 'In-ger-lund-er' is still a presence in the game.

The Football Association may now face the prospect of having to stage a future England qualifier behind closed doors while the government have warned that the cost of policing football may drive ticket prices through the roof.

Those who have attempted to defend the behaviour on Wearside have claimed, in the fashion of a bunch of schoolboys caught scrapping in the playground, that it was the Turks that started it all.

When precisely they started it depends on who you listen to. Turkish fans, of course, are not without sin and there have been some high-profile and tragic run-ins between fans from both countries over the past few years.

But, judging by reports that many of the arrests made by police that night were of known hooligans arriving on Wearside in anticipation of revenge attacks for the death of two Leeds fans in Istanbul in 2000, the riot between Arsenal and Galatasaray in Copenhagen the same year and some run-ins in Holland and Belgium in Euro 2000, there were certainly some England fans who were willing participants.

And, in a further reflection of the overriding mentality, when these fans were refused entry to the city they began fighting each other along the demarcation lines of which clubs they support - Newcastle v Sunderland being one such confrontation. And if we're asking who started the tradition of football violence that the Turks sadly seem to have embraced, then English football fans can only look to themselves and their fighting forebears.

The previous Euro 2004 qualifier had seen a TV audience exposed to a series of boorish nationalist chants from the small contingent of England fans that had managed to squeeze into the away game at Liechstenstein.

After being thwarted from booing the principality's national anthem by the fact that it was sung to the same tune as England's, it took less than five minutes for them to break into anthem of shame: 'No surrender to the IRA'. Just how deep a grasp of the Irish question the people that sing this dirge have is not even worth asking.

Pitch-side microphones treated a Saturday peak-time audience to a wide variety of swearwords from the faithful and those who watched the news bulletins that followed will have caught sight of ticketless fans trying to break through the Liechtenstein borders and engage the local police in a brawl. Yet another country glad to see the back of the England football team - and not because of a devastating on-pitch performance either.

Except for last year's World Cup in the Far East, where it is believed that most of the 'top boys' decided it was too far to go to be sent straight back home, almost every England away fixture in the last 25 years has been marred by such scenes. It's one of the reasons that many committed club football fans choose not to follow their country. They do not wish to be guilty by association.

Since English clubs were allowed back into European competition, fans of several clubs have regularly visited the continent and while there have been some serious incidents, the level of trouble is very rarely as high as it is when England travel away or welcome fans of supposed rivals - i.e. the Germans, Dutch, Scots and latterly, the Turks. When neighbours Scotland, Ireland and Wales play there is rarely any violent incident.

Many of England's hooligan element are understood to be supporters of lower division clubs. While football violence is common in the Nationwide League, such supporters obviously see England matches and trips as a chance to prove themselves on the big stage.

It also gives them a chance to meet with like-minded fans from around the country - fans with similar attire (chequered cap and designer jeans and sweater of a certain brand, nationalist tattoo, out-sized anorak), similar outlook (usually far-right politically with a chillingly fervent edge of nationalism) and a similar attitude to foreigners (England and the English are undoubtedly superior and that any country is to be 'invaded' by their inebriated army of idiots).

At a time when club-based violence is far less visible than it was in the dark days of the 1980s (though it hasn't gone away by any means) and England's football team seems to have a bright future, it is a continuing source of shame that this gormless minority does its best to soil its country's good name.

By William Gordon

England v Turkey was always going to be a tough match to marshal, especially after the deaths of two Leeds fans in Turkey some time ago. But as well as the potential of Leeds fans seeking revenge, there was always the possibility of Mags and Mackems arranging a meeting.

Leeds fans were singled out before they even got to the city centre as we know one mini-bus was stopped from travelling by police at Leeming Bar, 30 miles or so from Sunderland.

We don't know if this was a tip-off, or just the Plod being over-the-top, because they certainly had not clashed with anyone. They were just travelling to a football match, and all of them had match tickets.

Toon fans were stopped at the Sunderland train station (if you can call it that) as the police were prepared for, what they called "a pre-arranged meeting" of the Gremlins and Seaburn Casuals. I can promise you, they wouldn't have arranged to meet in a city centre pub.

They were in the same pub, The Albion, but I think it took the Mackems more by surprise than by any pre-arranged planning. (Allegedly) a number of Casuals frequent Jacksons, so that would have been a more obvious choice for planning than The Albion.

Twenty-five Mags and Mackems were arrested, but from what we can gather, none of them did anything. Even the Plod said they made 25 arrests just as "a precaution". So what will these fans be charged with? Being in a pub and the Plod happened to recognise them? God forbid, half of the burglars and drug dealers in the north-east drink in my local. Superintendent Jim Campbell would have a field day!

A gang of 30 Leeds fans were arrested at Burdon Road in the city centre, and we don't believe they did anything out of order either.

Superintendent Jim Campbell was the gentleman in charge and he said the policing was a huge success.

Inside the ground there was an intimidating atmosphere towards the 5,000 Turks in the ground, and there was chanting of "I'd rather be a Paki than a Turk". There were two pitch invasions when the goals were scored, but it was more in celebration than fans trying to cause trouble.

But I'm sure it will be looked into by FIFA, especially as a Turkish player kicked a fan. But then again, I'm sure it's a situation that will be pushed under the carpet, but remember Eric Cantona was given a six month ban for kicking a fan at Crystal Palace. And Cantona was seriously provoked ... the Turkish player wasn't.

SUPT JIM CAMPBELL: "We were monitoring potential troublemakers and there was a group of known people who are associated with Newcastle and Sunderland hooligan groups. They were together in a pub and the officers there took action to prevent a breach of the peace.

"It's not normal to have known Sunderland and Newcastle hooligans in the same place, and the interpretation my officers placed on that was that violence was imminent. They acted appropriately and arrested those individuals."

People nationwide are going to look at the facts and figures ... 95 arrests ... and point the finger at the violence in the north-east, but let's see what happens in that Hell hole in Turkey in October.

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Old 04-10-2003, 11:25 PM   #2
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i will never understand why some fans get out of control for these games. i hate to see a bunch of asses ruin it for the rest of the fans who are better behaved.

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Old 04-12-2003, 06:12 AM   #3
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England fans have such a horrible reputation for bad behaviour, mostly because of a stupid little minority who seem to find it impossible to just enjoy a game of football without it ending in violence and hooliganism. Bunch of .
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