The pride to belong, whatever the cost.
The phenomenon of Hooliganism started in the mid-1960s in England. Here football fans began to fight each other with violence, breeding adrenaline-fuelled behaviour that caused raucous atmosphere, eventually defined as hooliganism. Young men from the roughest part of the working class were attracted to various football matches, mainly because they were held in areas where fights often took place. For these men who before had struggled to find their place, being hooligans gave them a title to define them.
For the majority of hooligans, the reason is not solely linked to an interest in football. In fact, Hooligan culture is largely a social culture that is grown in strong communities with certain rituals and traditions. One of the main reasons why young men join the hooligan community is the incredibly strong brotherhood that exists, giving access to a group where otherwise they have been individuals. The common interest is represented by the football team and the loyalty to this also manifests between members, a relationship rarely found in other subcultures.
Furthermore, the excitement and adrenaline that a hooligan gets from fighting is an important reason to be a part of it. The mental focal point is the clearly defined enemy that are fans from rival clubs. The physical focal point is the stadium, where the group gains its mass power, but often smaller subsets will meet at a pub before the match or at agreed places beforehand.
Hooligans are commonly split into two categories; Casuals and Ultras. Ultra groupings are known to be noisy and visual in their expression with tifos and singing, while casuals are known as the more “low-key” division, who strive to go under the radar of the police and rival firms.
The name “casuals” stems from the clothes style when hooligans began to wear designer clothes to avoid attention from the police. Casuals didn’t wear club colours so as to easier infiltrate rival groups and enter pubs unnoticed. Consequently, they have been characterised by wearing designer clothes and are now noticeable for this particular dress code.
One Hooligan describes how important it has been for him to be met with open arms, care and attention from the elderly in the grouping. He describes the social aspect as a paramount element: "To us, the social aspect means a lot. That's what keeps us together and makes us strong compared to others (...) When I fight, it's of course for the club, but it's even more for the firm."
It is thus about togetherness: the affiliation to a common cause and the honour associated with joining this fraternity. There is also a unique chemistry in the group, which is comparable to that electric energy when people go to war. Their united interest overshadows all and drives them to their end aim of displaying the frenetic behaviour for which they are so known.