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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Hooliganism is defined as unlawful acts that include disruptive behavior such as vandalism, bullying, and riots. This word is derived from Hooligan, a violent young troublemaker, typically one of a gang, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Hooligan laws existed in the Soviet Union and current Russia. During the Soviet times, Khuligan was the crime of political disagreement. Today, this law classifies hooliganism into two categories: petty crimes with little impact and crimes involving weapons, objects used as weapons and violence with an intention of expressing hatred. Similar definitions are used in other parts of the world as well.

In the modern world, hooliganism has received more attention in the media, especially with the rise of professional sports, a domain where riots are commonplace. Hooliganism as a result of sports are common occurrences in Canadian hockey, American baseball and most notoriously, British football. Stereotypically, the British, have a reputation of being violent and rowdy during football matches, both live and in bar viewing. Often, the stereotype is drunken rage and very little teeth left in mouths. According to British politics, as the country with the worst reputation for hooliganism related to football, the issue has to be dealt with at the legal level in order to repair their reputation. Therefore, laws have been created to prevent the defacing of British football culture such as: Public Order Act 1986, Football Spectator Act 1989, Football Offences Act 1991 and Football Disorder Act 1999. These laws prevent attendees with notoriously bad behavior to attend matches, leave the country for the purpose of viewing football abroad, and chant offensive statements regarding a group’s status in football.

Humorously, the word Hooligan itself originated in the British Isles. The word has some vague origins but the first known use of the word is from a London police report in 1898 regarding street thugs. The term however was known to have started being used during the mid1890s to describe groups such as the “Scuttlers”, organizations of young-working class boys around Manchester known for armed violence. On the other hand, the Oxford English Dictionary, suggest that the word originates from a comedic musical show in Britain about a rowdy Irish family known as the Hooligans. Another theory is that the word originated from Hooligan Nights, a novel about an Irish thief in London named Patrick Hoolihan.

Hooliganism is clearly a problem to public safety and order. However, the law and its enforcers should likely pay close attention to the difference between simple demonstration of emotions and ideas, such as the Occupy Movement, and actual Hooliganism. In a time when gatherings have been made easy to arrange through use of social media, it can be expected that large gatherings that resemble riots should become common, and unfortunately, become covers for hooligans and their schemes. Hooligans have become a sort of invisible criminals, and the world should be on a greater alert to them.

1.       “Football Hooliganism,” Accessed October 23, 2012, http://www.politics.co.uk/reference/football-hooliganism
2.      “Definition of hooliganism,” Accessed October 23, 2012, http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/hooligan?q=hooliganism#hooligan__5

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