Football Hooliganism is a Moral Panic

Brimson (2000) in describing the media onslaught argued that “the written word is the most powerful weapon known to man…In whatever form it comes, be it written or spoken, it has the power to form opinions, change perceptions and builds up or destroys individuals… If you harp on about something long enough and remain unchallenged, eventually people will begin to believe it. Football hooliganism is a case in point” (Brimson, p.179)

Traditionally football hooliganism comes to light in the 1960s, late 1970s, and the 1980s when it subdued after the horrific Heysel(1985) and Hillsborough(1989) disasters. In the Heysel Stadium, Brussels tragedy, 39 people died and over 400 were injured due to rioting in the Liverpool vs. Juventus European Cup final. There was however incidents of violence and crowd disorder at football matches even as early as the 19th century with pitch invasions a common occurrence. Modern football matches have not escaped the culture of fan violence but rather evolved with new technology whereby rival fans goad each other through internet forums and social forums to frenzy in anticipation of the violence on match day which is the highlight of the day rather than the football game. Incredibly the media from newspapers and to the electronic media have been foremost in fanning the furnace of contemporary football matches by harping on the negative aspects of the game (Poulton, 2001).

According to Clark (2009), “By far the most contributing and important factor into the public’s view of football hooliganism is the media’s coverage of disruptions and matches” (Clark, 1). European tabloids, especially in Britain and Germany, tend to prefer sensationalist journalism ignoring the incitement they cause due to the inflammatory topics covered just to boost their circulation. During the European Championship tournament in Euro’ 1996, the two leading tabloids in England run provocative headlines&nbsp.with The Daily Mirror banner leading ‘Achtung Surrender’ while The Sun read ‘Let’s Blitz Fritz’ during the semi-final clash between England and Germany.