Why stunning total of one billion viewers alone;

Why is football
hooliganism more publicised in the media than any other sport, and how does it
affect our social construct?

 

Football hooliganism throughout the last 70
years has gone through an expediential rise, and a
landslide of a slope. Whilst in the 2014 World Cup alone, the viewership met a
phenomenal growth of 3.2 billion viewers in total throughout the competition in
total, but the final alone of the tournament on the 13th July 2014
met a stunning total of one billion viewers alone; so, it’s therefore evident
that football is the world’s most popular sport on the planet, especially
throughout Europe, but it’s also a sport that is on the verge of immense
popularity in other continents such as the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia.
However, with the evergrowing spectators of the sport will bring along those
fans that can’t simply sit down and watch the game peacefully; those fans that
like to go the extra mile, and evidently take it way too far. This is commonly
known as football hooliganism. Throughout this essay, I intend on discussing
why the issues of footballing hooliganism get more publicised than any other
sport, and how that can affect how we view the sport on a social level.

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Firstly, what is football hooliganism, and what is the
differentiation from regular hooliganism? Regular hooliganism is perceived to
be unruly, violent and rowdy by gang members, sporting hooliganism follows the
same type of behaviour but between sports fans. The etymology of the each isn’t
too complicated; “hooliganism” was first used in the early 1900s, and then they
added “football” in front of it during the 1930s to categorize these hooligans
from each other. However, what these sporting hooligans do to place themselves
into this category is the main issue. A football hooligan’s behaviour may
consist of the following: taunting, spitting, unarmed fighting, throwing of
objects into the playing field (in an attempt to harm a player or official),
throwing objects towards the opposition fans, fighting with weapons, and
disorderly crowd behaviour. Even in eras that span onto hundreds of years ago,
actions like this were similar to the ones we’d see in today’s game. Although
the first instance of hooliganism is unknown, it can be tracked back to 14th
Century England, when in 1314, Edward II banned football because he believed
the disorder surrounding matches might lead to social unrest, or even treason.
This occurred when a nasty free-for-all involving rival villages hurled a pig’s
bladder at each other across a local heath. Whereas, in comparison to a more
recent one on October 19th 2017, during a UEFA Europa League match,
a game between English side Everton and the French unit of Lyon a brawl broke
out between the players, which led to some of the fans of Everton coming along
pitchside and started throwing punches towards some of the Lyon players. In a
result of these actions, the Everton fans that were eventually identified for
these vicious acts have now faced a permanent ban from viewing club games. In
addition, these two events, which are hundreds of years apart, show the same attributes
of behaviour in how the hooliganism act was caused and executed. Furthermore,
both of those acts were committed by football fans. This then could reinforce
the fact that football fans are perhaps more known to use violent behaviour
when attending the game. Furthermore, measures have been taken in attempt to
reduce hooliganism acts. Such as: banning of items that could be used as a
weapon, banning identified hooligans from the stadium, creating a seating
policy inside the stadium, segregating of the opposition fans, banning of fans
watching the game (resulting the match to take place behind closed doors),
compiling registers of known hooligans, and restricting the ability of known
hooligans to travel overseas. However, even though these extreme measures have
been used to try and prevent from the beloved game to be disrupted, many
hooligans have always found a way to cause a ruckus during games. For example,
a recent one, which I was there an experienced was on the 21st
October 2017 in the match between Bristol City vs. Leeds United; in which where
the hooliganism act occurred in the fourth minute of the game when Leeds took
the lead and the fans responded by throwing flares onto the pitch. Even though
it being a minor act, which caused no harm to any other fan, it was still an
act of hooliganism because flares have been banned from sporting events for a
numerous of decades.

 

With
hooligans, danger is always near, and with danger near, disaster is always
looming; and football is sport that doesn’t stray afar from disaster. Most
commonly, the most heartbreakingly rememberable disaster is the 1989
Hillsborough disaster, where we unfortunately experienced approximately 96
deaths and 766 injuries to fans due to overcrowding resulting in suffocation,
stampeding, and crushing of the fans. Although it is the most fatal sporting
incident in British history, it, it was caused through the failure to control
the amount of fans that were supposed to be allocated into the ground, rather
than an act of hooliganism. However, in contrast to a match in 2012 between
Al-Masry and Al-Ahli resulted in one of the worst sporting casualties in
Egyptian history. The chaos unfolded just after the match ended, and fans of
Al-Masry ran onto the pitch in a frenzy celebration after winning the game and
started chasing players into the dressing room, whilst others started letting
off fireworks and throwing stones at the visiting supporters. The Al-Masry
supporters then breached the visitors section and stampeded over the fans,
resulting in over 74 deaths and hundreds of injuries amongst the anarchy. It’s
quite evident why football hooliganism gets publicised throughout the media,
when tragic events like this happen rarely every few years. However, you would
presume the ruling of football in an African country is a lot weaker than in
comparison to a European country. To emphasise, if you ever got the chance to
watch any competitive league game in Africa, there is a slight chance that
you’d see teams urinating on the pitch or even the slaughtering of a goat.
Additionally, practices like witchcraft is a sensitive subject within Africa,
but it is commonly used as a superstition for luck. Furthermore, sometimes it’s
not even the fans that lash out on each other, and become the main headlight
for controversy; sometimes it’s the players/teams themselves. Iconic moments
that rocked the footballing world like Manchester United legend Eric Cantona
kung-fu kicking a fan in the stands, or a more notorious villain amongst the
footballing community is Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, who has been involved
in racial abuse towards another player, physically biting three different
players, and known as a cheater for using footballing techniques such a diving
to con referees to favour his teams’ decision and purposely handling the ball
during the World Cup 2010 against Ghana in the quarter finals. When you see
acts like this, especially from superstars that people aspire to be like, it’s
not a surprise seeing hooliganism and malicious acts like this being plastered
over newspapers and social media, because it completely disregards the fact
that it is supposed to be a professional sport; and with the evergrowing
popularity of the sport, it’s only going to be continued to be heavily
publicised on a variety of platforms, because that’s what will attract
viewers/readers.

 

Evidently,
football hooliganism gets heavily published mainly because how popular the
sport on a worldwide level. Even though it does hold this status, it doesn’t mean
that hooliganism doesn’t happen within other sports. Whilst football
hooliganism over time has slowly decreased, it’s the contrasting view for
rugby. To emphasise this, Welsh policemen ranted during the 2016 Six Nations
tournament, and said that “rugby fans are worse to deal with in comparison than
football” and that “football fans will push boundaries, but they will listen”,
and then finished off with “Rugby fans won’t listen. They don’t take advice
or warnings. They will be a nightmare”. So, why does the media not publicise
this rugby hooliganism violence? Even though rugby’s popularity isn’t as
immense as football’s, it shouldn’t dispute the fact that violence occurs within
that sport. In the latest edition of the Rugby World Cup, in 2015, viewership
peaked up to 8.2million viewers for the live coverage of the final, in England alone.
Whilst it doesn’t quite match the World Cup 2014 statistic, it’s still a lot of
people, and a lot of fans. Whilst the Rugby World Cup 2015 didn’t quite experience
many hooligan acts, it doesn’t mean that it’s not on the approach. In 2016, a French
Division 2 match that consisted of Beziers vs. Biarritz was halted as a mass
amount of brawls broke out between fans and players. Even though the saying of “football
is a gentlemen’s sport played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligans sport
played by gentlemen” is used commonly, evident recent actions are reversing
this saying. Whilst football hooligans seems to get gradually maintained in
European countries, it seems to be the opposite in rugby. In addition, violent
conduct occurs in many other sports, such as: NFL, ice hockey, cricket, and
MLB.