Beginning in at least the 1960s, the United Kingdom gained a reputation worldwide for football hooliganism; the phenomenon was often dubbed the British or English Disease. However, since the 1980s and well into the 1990s the UK government has led a widescale crackdown on football related violence. While football hooliganism has been a growing concern in some continental European countries in recent years, British football fans now tend to have a better reputation abroad.
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In the UK, hooliganism is almost exclusively confined to football. Disorderly behaviour has been common amongst football supporters since the birth of the sport, but it is only really since the 1960s that it began to be perceived as a serious problem. In the 1980s, hooliganism became indelibly associated with English football supporters.
Football hooliganism in England can be dated back to the 1880’s when individuals referred to as roughs caused trouble at football matches. Derby matches between local teams would usually see the worst trouble, but in an era when fans travelling to away games were not common, roughs would sometimes attack the referees and the away team’s players.
A new generation of young British football fans is responsible for trebling violent incidents since 2007. Last season the police clamped down on football-rel...
The hooligan firm of infamous English football club Millwall, the Bushwackers take their (misspelled) name from the American Civil War ambushers, and no one would want to be attacked by these nasty Brits. They even had an improvised weapon named in their honor – the Millwall Brick, made of a newspaper and used to bash up rival fans.
Many of the football hooligan gangs in the UK used hooliganism as a cover for acquisitive forms of crime, specifically theft and burglary. In the 1980s and well into the 1990s the UK government led a major crackdown on football-related violence. While football hooliganism has been a growing concern in some other European countries in recent years, British football fans now tend to have a better reputation abroad.
Hooliganism was known as the English disease, but we definitely had a very bad case of it for a long time, here Spurs and Chelsea fans at White Hart Lane in 1975 Credit: Alamy
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