It is expected that fans who are in the audience show respect to the stadiums, teams, athletes and their opponents. But there’s a level to which fans can become competitive, especially when they’re in the presence of other superfans.
Hooliganism is the opposite of dysfunctional behavior. Hooliganism destroys all rules of fairness and respect in sports. Violence between spectators, teams and opponents is often unprofessional. It can also reflect badly on the team or person they support. Safety is at risk. This can cause a drop in spectatorship and a decrease in participation from those who are not involved.
Hooliganism can be found in all sports, but football has been known to have the most aggressive and competitive fans. Football is a popular sport and there have been many cases of violence between spectators at matches. This has often resulted in fatalities.
Hillsborough Disaster 1989 was an example of dysfunctional behavior. This fatal human crushing occurred during a FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool, South Yorkshire and Nottingham Forest. In 1989, over 24,000 Liverpool fanatics travelled from Liverpool to Sheffield to watch the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest. As the crowd waited in anticipation of kick-off at Hillsborough stadium, it grew. The gate opened and thousands rushed in to a busy area. Ninety six people were killed and hundreds of others injured. Inquests have determined that the 96 victims of Hillsborough were killed unlawfully. It means their deaths were not accidental but due to mistakes made by the police, the ambulance service, and others that caused the tragedy. Although it was ruled that the police, ambulance service and other organisations were responsible for controlling crowds, supporters’ behaviour did not indicate they were concerned about their own safety or the safety of others. We can learn from this historical event how to control the behaviours and safety of fans in the future.
Even before a match, it is possible to predict that rival teams will have the most hooliganism. In matches like Man City-Manchester United or Tottenham-Arsenal, which are games that many spectators label as rivals, there have been numerous reports of violence and hooliganism. This can lead to bans for anyone who is involved. Officials are very strict in regulating these matches, as they want to minimize the amount or dysfunctional fan behaviour.
The Roma supporters attacked some Liverpool fans during the European Cup final in 1984, where Liverpool defeated AS Roma. Some Liverpool fans are believed to have travelled from Liverpool to Brussels in order for them seek revenge against Italian football fans. This was at a period when hooliganism still played a large role within the football world. This incident is called the Heysel Stadium catastrophe and is one of the most notorious cases in football’s history. In 1985, a group a Liverpool fans crossed an invisible fence to reach a neutral zone populated by Juventus fans. This happened about one hour before kick-off. The fans were crushed as they fled from the danger. They were trapped in a section on the terrace that was surrounded by a concrete wall. Thirty-nine people died. Juventus won the game 1-0, despite this tragedy. 32 Italians were among the dead, along with four Belgians and two French fans. One Northern Irish fan was also killed. All English football clubs have been banned from Europe for the next five-years. Fourteen Liverpool football fans were also convicted of manslaughter. They each received a three-year sentence.
Fans are crucial to the success of any athlete or team, and this is true for all sports, not just football. The power of fans over judges and refs can make a huge difference in a competition. It could be what the athlete or team needs to win. Socially, we accept that dysfunctional supporters are not representative for all of them. The majority just want to see a friendly match between two teams. People who behave in a way that is not friendly may damage the image and reputation of the club they support.