Category Archives: Sport violence and hooliganism

Tackling Football Hooliganism: A Quantitative Study of Public Order, Policing and Crowd Psychology

It’s been a very long time since I’ve spotted an article in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law that I’ve wanted to read (is it just me or has it been incredibly dull over the last few issues?). But here’s one that sounds interesting, appears theoretically sound and of practical value:

This paper contributes to the science of crowd dynamics and psychology by examining the social psychological processes related to the relative absence of “hooliganism” at the Finals of the 2004 Union Européenne de Football Association (UEFA) Football (Soccer) Championships in Portugal. Quantitative data from a structured observational study is integrated with data from a questionnaire survey of a group associated ubiquitously with ‘hooliganism’ – namely England fans. This analysis provides support for the contention that the absence of ‘disorder’ can be attributed in large part to the non-paramilitary policing style adopted in cities hosting tournament matches. Evidence is presented which suggests that this style of policing supported forms of non-violent collective psychology that, in turn, served to psychologically marginalise violent groups from the wider community of fans. The study highlights the mutually constructive relationships that can be created between psychological theory, research, policing policy and practice, particularly in relation to the successful management of ‘public order’. The paper concludes by exploring some of the wider implications of this research for theory, policy, the management of crowds, social conflict, and human rights more generally.


Hooliganism and Police Tactics

policewaitingVia Docuticker (11 June), links to an interesting research report from the Bonn-based Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) about Hooliganism and Police Tactics:

In this paper we introduce a model of hooliganism to study how different types of police strategies affect membership and aggregate violence. To the best of our knowledge, hooliganism has not been studied previously in the economics literature. The effect of different police strategies on crime by violent groups has also received only little attention. We show that while discriminative policing always reduces violence, policing methods that hit members of targeted groups at equal force independently of how violent they are, may, in fact, increase violence.

… We find that an increase in discriminative policing, provided by intelligence units, for example, always reduces violence. Under the right circumstances, it may also lead to larger supporter clubs and a significant drop in violence. Indiscriminate policing, such as the use of teargas or random jailing of potential law breakers, may, however, backfire and result in smaller and more brutal groups.


More on hooliganism on Psychology and Crime News.

Photo credit: Mickal, Creative Commons License

Football hooliganism: comparing self-awareness and social identity theory explanations

hooliganJust published in the Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, new research from Alain Van Hiel at the University of Ghent (Belgium) and colleagues that seeks to understand the origins of football hooliganism. Although focused on aggressive football fans, their results also have some implications for understanding other circumstances where individuals in groups become violent (e.g., when peaceful protests turn into riots).

Football violence, so the authors of this paper tell us, has been around since the late Nineteenth Century, and is thus as old as the game itself. Psychologists trying to explain violent group conduct have approached it from two different (though not mutually exclusive) perspectives: an individual differences approach, in which, it is argued, individual differences variables like positive attitudes to violence explain violent behaviour; and a social identity approach, which assumes that individuals become violent in certain situations where they feel anonymous and therefore lack accountability.

In this paper, van Hiel et al. discuss the different approaches to understanding group violence, and present results from a study “investigating both individual difference variables and loss of self-awareness and social identity in a single study” (p. 174). The researchers visited bars in Ghent and recruited 109 (mostly male) football fans, 38% of whom answered yes to the question “Would you describe yourself as a hooligan?” (!). Participants completed a survey booklet which included:

  • individual difference measures, notably the Five-Factor Model (FFM; Costa & McCrae, 1992) and Measures of Criminal Attitudes and Associates (MCAA; Mills & Kroner, 2001);
  • questions about they way they felt when with fellow supporters (e.g., “When the referee makes a decision that negatively affects my team, I feel submerged in the hooting of the crowd”); and
  • questions about involvement in violence (e.g., “Have you ever been involved in riots with fans of another team?”).

Read on to find out what they discovered…

Continue reading Football hooliganism: comparing self-awareness and social identity theory explanations

Winning ‘triggers sport violence’

BBC News Online, 31 March, 2005

Winning, not losing, triggers violence among supporters after a sports match, a study suggests. Welsh researchers found more victims of assault were treated at Cardiff’s A&E department after Wales won at rugby or football than if they had lost. The same was true even if the national teams were playing away. Writing in the journal Injury Prevention, the researchers say alcohol is a major factor – and add their findings should help prevent violence. […] The researchers said a win may also boost levels of self confidence, assertiveness or patriotism, all of which could lead to violence. Other research has shown that domestic violence occurs more often when the male assailant’s local team wins.