Is There a Relationship Between Football Hooliganism and Right-Wing Politics?

Recently, the media outlet Vice released a short documentary, depicting how football ‘hooligans’ are in association with the political ‘Far-Right’. Future Leaders Fellow Dr Martha Newson, who has particular experience working with football fans, including surveys and interviews with hardcore Brazilian, Indonesian and Australian fans, gives her expert commentary.

Tim Hume, Co-presenter on Vice, explains that the partnership between football hooliganism and politics has been noted as far back as the 1970’s.

Tim continues by saying that ‘Right-Wing’ groups, such as The National Front, recruited members from the stands at football games and the pubs surrounding the stadium and in the local area.

The reason behind this, as explained by Dr Newson, is because football hooligans, ultras, or casuals (different nicknames which ultimately mean the same), have a psychologically rooted sense of ‘pro group behaviour’ and national pride, meaning they are willing to fight for what they believe in. Which far right groups and political parties, like The English Defence League (EDL), look for in members.

However, and as highlighted in the documentary, this is not solely a problem for the UK.

The same relationship, between football and ‘right-wing’ politics, can be seen in the former Eastern-European country of Yugoslavia. Red Star Belgrade supporters are an example of a football club which were involved in ‘right-wing’ group called the Serbian National Guard (also known as Arkan’s Tigers), who were responsible for ethnic cleansing in the 1990’s.

This problem is even apparent in the Middle Eastern country of Israel. We all know Israel to be politically fragile. But the involvement of football fans in this less obvious. As mentioned in the Vice documentary, when the Israeli government was under threat, ultras from Beitar Jerusalem Football Club stepped in to protect the government- which the former president, Reuven Rivlin, supported.

Although there is evidently a relationship between football hooligans and the ‘far-right’, which has been present for over 50 years. Football, as a whole, is trying to move away from these negative connections, with acts such as taking the knee and working with organisations such as ‘Kick It Out’.

Find the whole documentary here.

Categories: SAC

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