Hooliganism: The Ultras Destroying Peace at the Match (Part Two)

Part Two: Modern Day Hooliganism Around the Globe

Red Star Supporters

In part one of this three part series, American Soccer United examined the Heysel disaster and the roots of hooliganism. In this second part, the examination of modern day hooliganism around the globe will be discussed.

What is the dictionary definition of hooliganism is a question that may come to mind as you read this series. Hooliganism. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is simply defined as “rowdy, violent, or destructive behavior.” So what are some examples of hooliganism plaguing the global game? To consider the modern day model of hooliganism, one just needs to look at Eastern Europe, more directly Russia.

 A politician in Russia by the name of Igor Lebedev created a “solution” to problems by potentially turning World Cup 2018 into a modern day gladiatorial arena.The member of the Liberal Democratic Party in Russian Parliament proposed the idea of setting up a time and place for a 20 vs. 20, no weapons allowed, hooligan battle in a stadium. This idea is to prevent the England fans from bullying/provoking fights like they did in France during Euro 2016, Igor Lebedev claims. Lebedev is also the politician who suggested last summer that the fighting between fans was okay and he seemed to actually encourage the disputes.

So what were the disputes of Euro 2016? Let us flashback to early June when a combat level of hooliganism broke out in Lille. Focused primarily in the town square, the day started off fairly calm with English and Welsh fans drinking and singing. As more drinks were ordered and the day progressed, Russia became eliminated from the UEFA Euro 2016. English and Welsh fans began chanting anti-Russian themed songs such as “We’re England and Wales, f*** off Russia, We’re England and Wales!” among other chants. Some Russian fans began arriving in the town square to get a drink before the journey home, many stayed back, some even smiled at the chants. Soon after, a large amount of Russian fans had arrived. Fans from the United Kingdom began chanting louder and pointing fingers at the Russians. Tensions rose. According to a report from The Guardian, an explosive went off and Russian fans charged at English fans. English fans then began chasing the Russians. French riot police were on the pursuit trying to apprehend both sides’ troublemakers. Larger clusters of hooligans had tear gas fired at them by French riot police. The initial conflict had been broken apart by law enforcement, but there were many brawls leading into the late hours of night.

The international stage of Europe is not the only stage with hooligan issues. An extreme issue of club-level hooliganism is the Partizan Belgrade vs. Red Star Belgrade Derby in Serbia. The scenes of the match always arrive on the news. If you have never had the opportunity to see images of the Belgrade Derby, consider this. The stadium could be mistaken as a stadium engulfed in flames. Smoke from flares fills the sky under a cloud of black as an orange glow circles the stands. Most fans are dressed in identity masking clothing. Riot police and military units know by now that allowing these two sides the chance to be near each other in the stadium is a recipe for disaster, so fortunately in recent years, conflict between the two sides has not broken out. However, if you ever have the dream of going to a match in Serbia with your family, this is not the match.

To fully understand the Derby, one must understand why it is so intense. The Belgrade Derby is commonly referred to as The Eternal Derby or The Derby of Southeast Europe. Both sides are largely political sides. Red Star was formed in March 1945 by a group known as the “United Alliance of Anti-Fascist Youth.” Just a few months later in October, Partizan was formed by Yugoslav People’s Army. Obviously two clubs formed in the same city by different militant political groups will not end well. In case the political background was not enough to spice the game, add in the fact that these two sides are consistently title contenders. The two sides remain a highlighting issue in a massive issue plaguing not just Europe, but the whole world.

 

This is part two of a three part series by Lew Tasso and Aidan Reagh  

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