Introduction: Football Is More Competitive Than One Might Think
Although the very concept of being a fan implies being passionate about a particular person or phenomenon, one might believe that the link between football fans and crime might be somewhat farfetched. However, recent cases show that there is a propensity among the people developing an emotional attachment to a particular football team to express violence toward the fans of other teams (Scholtz, 2016).
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Although typically restricted to minor confrontations between the representatives of the opposing teams, the identified phenomenon may take a larger scale: “Sometimes the violence has escalated to riots and murder” (Gerstenfeld, 2013, Chapter 8).
One must admit that purely football-based hatred is a comparatively rare occurrence in the contemporary environment. As Gerstenfeld (2013) explains, most of the conflicts between football fans are fueled heavily by racial and ethnic prejudices: “While some of their violence is directed at anyone who supports opposing teams, a great deal of the violence is also fueled by racism or ethnic tensions” (Gerstenfeld, 2013, Chapter 8). Nevertheless, the very idea of committing crimes over the devotion for a particular football team seems rather odd.
Since the hate crimes committed under the pretext of being affiliated with a particular football community are often fueled by the specific ethnic, racial, or national ideas, the subject matter can be viewed as the tool for introducing the participants to the emotion-related factors and allowing the situation to spin out of control.
The assumption above means that football hate crimes can be avoided by reducing the competitiveness of the sport and promoting the idea of participation as opposed to winning as the focus of the game. Thus, the line between sport-related crimes and hate crimes committed based on racial conflicts could be drawn, and further instances of football hate crimes could be mitigated.
A Brief History of Hatred: Playing for the Wrong Team
The phenomenon of football hate crimes is rather old. However, the subject matter has recently reached a new stage of development. According to the recent report produced by BBC, the problem of football hate crimes has grown twice over the past year: “There was an increase of 50% in the number of football teams that the accused were affiliated with” (Football hate crimes rise by almost 50% in last year, 2016, para. 22).
The change in the percentage of hate crimes committed on the premise of sport-related conflicts can be explained by the increasingly high tension rates on the international political arena (Gerstenfeld, 2013). Indeed, as stressed above, there is a distinct connection between the conflicts among the representatives of different cultures and the confrontations between the members of particular sports teams.
Exploring the Focus of Haters: The Characteristics of the Victims
Understandably enough, affiliation with any football team is the primary trait of a typical victim of a football hate crime. A lenient attitude toward the representatives of other football teams cannot be viewed as the silver bullet against the attacks of criminals – quite on the contrary, football hooligans tend to choose the people that will not be able to respond as their target, as a recent crime report shows. Indeed, according to the Mirror newsletter, there was nothing that could have provoked the armed attack: “It was relaxed and the banter was great.
Then, completely out of the blue, a mob of about 20 to 30 men started running down the street towards us” (Nicol, 2015, para. 9). However, a refusal to wear any accessories that can define one as a fan of a certain football team does not guarantee complete safety from football hooligans.
Furthermore, the very idea of suggesting that the potential victims of aggressive football fans should behave in a particular manner suggests that the victim is partially responsible for the occurrence of the crime. The assumption regarding the possible need to alter the existing behavioral patterns, therefore, is unacceptable as it implies that the victim should also be blamed for the crime by provoking the aggressor with a specific behavior.
Typical Behavior Patterns: From Loud Arguments to Fierce Attacks
The hate crimes themselves, in their turn, have a specific pattern, which is easily distinguishable and, therefore, possibly preventable. To be more accurate, the confrontations between the representatives of different tastes in football are typically loud, and the attacks on the opponents are very fierce. A quiet and sneaky attempt at fighting the opponent, thus, cannot be considered characteristic of football-based hate crimes (Gerstenfeld, 2013).
With the above information in mind, one may infer that the sense of community that football fan clubs give the participants also paves the way to creating gangs that later on attack innocent members of other fan teams. Altering the present-day fabric of football communities, however, does not seem to be a sensible step. The first and most obvious, a set of rigid values and ethical standards should be promoted among the fans of football teams worldwide.
Apart from reinforcing the concept of ethics and moral values among the target audience, one should also consider introducing the fans of football to the idea of peaceful communication. Particularly, the idea of participation, as opposed to winning, should be made the foundation for the modern sports, in general, and football, in particular. One might argue that the proposed solution will take the competitive edge out of the sport. However, the increase in safety rates and the subsequent drop in crime levels, which can be expected as a result of the strategy implementation, is worth the challenges that the football industry will face.
Conclusion: The Many Reasons for Hating People
Football hate crimes and hooliganism are only two examples of hate crimes, which tend to take a variety of shapes and come in all forms imaginable. Moreover, the use of football preferences can be viewed as only a pretext for committing crimes the reasons for which are rooted deep in the ethnic, racial, or national prejudices. Nevertheless, addressing the instances of football hooliganism must be viewed as a necessity. New strategies for arranging peaceful communication and negotiation as opposed to violent outbursts can be suggested.
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By introducing the principles of tolerance and acceptance to the realm of football and allowing the participants to celebrate the things that make them different, one will be able to create a safe environment that may become the premise for designing a more general approach toward hate crime prevention. The concepts of peacefulness and negotiation incorporated in the approach may be the building blocks for addressing and preventing hate crimes successfully, therefore, eradicating the very phenomenon from the bloodstream of the communication between the members of different communities, ethnicities, races, etc.
Football hate crimes rise by almost 50% in last year. (2016, June 10). BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-36498081
Gerstenfeld, P. B. (2013). Hate crimes: Causes, controls, and controversies. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CT: SAGE Publications. Retrieved from vitalsource.com.
Nicol, S. (2015). “There was blood everywhere”: Victims of terrifying football hooligan violence speak out. The Mirror.
Scholtz, P. (2016). Football fan behavior of two most successful football teams in the Czech Republic. Brno: Masarykova Univerzita.