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Yeah, I mean, how many basketball games end with the destruction of a city? They reserve that for soccer games.

An Association Football supporter who arguably takes the "support" part more seriously than the football. Portrayals (and Real Life examples) tend to range along a sliding scale of criminal behaviour. Some are fans who've gotten drunk and found themselves in a Bar Brawl, while others are organised "firms" — gangs formed on the basis, not of ethnicity or home turf, but of the members' favoured team. Strongly associated with the UK, but as pointed out on The Other Wiki, prevalent all over the world — even within the US, at least according to The Guardian. Hooliganism was so rife in 1980's England (for example, contributing to disasters like Heysel) that Margaret Thatcher formed a "war cabinet" to deal with the problem; ironically, measures put in place to stop it resulted in the tragedy at Hillsborough. Thankfully, further measures put in place have all but stamped this problem out.

Hooliganism in spirit bears some similarity to Fight Clubbing, in that rival firms usualy stick to beating each other up. However, as it takes place in public and is often backed up by tribal loyalties and strong emotions, it can easily escalate into armed battles, or overflow into property damage, fights with police and stampeding civilians. See Powder Keg Crowd.

Can cross over with Violent Glaswegian in the case of Celtic v Rangers. (Whose cross-city reltionship is not helped by the religious, historical and Northern Irish affiliations of both sets of fans.) Contrast London Gangster and The Yardies, who these guys will soon run into if they move into organised crime.

See also Rugby Is Slaughter - some wag once pointed out that "Rugby is a game for thugs played by gentlemen, while football is a game for gentlemen played by thugs".

Examples of Football Hooligans include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • John Constantine gets out of a sticky situation when a demon had fused four hooligans together to kill him, while retaining their personalities. Unfortunately for the demon's plans, two were for Chelsea, the other two for Arsenal. They start beating the crap out of themselves, allowing John to escape.
    • On another occasion, John meets a demon who is the genius spirit of football hooliganism and accepted deaths and bloodshed in the stands as his sacrifices.


  • The Football Factory - Chelsea v Millwall
  • The Firm - West Ham
  • Green Street has Elijah Wood's Fish Out of Water American student sucked into the world of a West Ham firm.
  • Robert Carlyle's character Felix De Souza in The 51st State - Liverpool.
  • In Eurotrip, two of the protagonists run into a Manchester United fanclub (in London[1]). The club are stereotypical hooligans, but the two strike well with them and they give them a ride to Paris.
  • The bizzare animated film Animal Soccer World invokes this was a gang of duck hooligans who show up for the animal soccer game. They're stereotypically attired and some have weapons with them before the game even starts. They play no part in the film after being introduced.



 In most nations, when people say "football" they mean "soccer," which is a completely different game in which smallish persons whiz about on a field while the spectators beat each other up and eventually overthrow the government.

  • Adopted for horse racing in Belisarius Series. The Greens and The Blues, and their rivalry that culminated in the (in)famous Nika riots that destroyed half of the Constantinople and just barely haven't led to the destruction of Byzantine government at the time, were treated much like modern football hooligans or the rival firms.
  • Alex Rider is being led through a crowd by a villain with a hidden gun. He starts silently taunting a football fan whose team has just lost badly (and by silently, I mean miming the score with his fingers), until the man comes over and starts a fight, giving Alex a chance to escape.
  • In the 1970's, a now-defunct publishing house called the New English Library specialised in lurid penny-dreadfuls, hack-written novels capitalising on Mail readers' fears about British society going to Hell in a handcart. Among its copious catalogue were pulp novels by a "Richard Allen" about football hooliganism, with no nose left unbroken nor no groin unkicked. Allen wrote four or five books about the hooligans, culminating in a truly outrageous piece of monumental absurdity called Striker!, where football hooligans precipitate the collapse of British society and, with the aid of no-good trade unions and communists, take the country over. Literally. Eventually, the Americans call a halt to Britain's slide into anarchy by doing an Iraq and sending their Army in to restore order and put down hooliganism. Oh dear. A cure producing a bigger body count than the disease?

Live-Action TV

  • Mike Myers had a recurring fictional TV show sketch on Saturday Night Live called "Scottish Soccer Hooligans Weekly."
  • Rare non-UK variant: Danish police show Anna Pihl had an episode concentrating on the Danish "casual" subculture; violent football hooligans modelled after the English firms, also connected to racist crime.
  • One episode of Life On Mars dealt with a murder tied to the upcoming Manchester Derby (City vs. United). At the end, the furious Sam rants at the Perp of the Week about the future of football in England because of hooligans; the fences, the checkups, deaths...

 "And then we overreact, and we have to put up perimeter fences and we treat the fans like animals! Forty, fifty thousand people herded into pens! And then how long before something happens, eh? How long before something terrible happens and we are dragging bodies out?"

    • Specifically, he's talking about the Hillsborough Disaster. 96 deaths were caused by failures in crowd control leading to a dangerous crush, and the prevailing mindset that all fans were hooligans meant that a public safety problem was treated as a public order problem. This lead to a crucial delay in getting people out of the crush, and allegedly some of those scaling the fences to escape it were pushed back in.
  • Bernard tries to get beaten up by Millwall supporters in the pilot episode of Black Books.

  Millwall! That's the one. Do you know this chant; "Millwall, Millwall, you're all really dreadful, and all your girlfriends are unfulfilled and alienated..."

  • An episode of The Thin Blue Line had the police being worried about a possible outbreak of football hooliganism due to a London team playing the local club. In arresting various troublemaking elements, they end up locking up the entire local club.
  • The Goodies had an episode about soccer hooliganism, in which ballet eventually replaced soccer as the national pastime but was then ruined by - yep - ballet hooligans.
    • This was quite probably a reference to The Rite of Spring, which actually did have hooligans beating each other and gendarmes called in to quell the riot on its premiere.
    • They also had a milder parody in one episode, where Tim and Graeme ran in, cheering, chanting, and dressed in red-white scarves and wooly hats.
  • Frasier. Daphne's Mum and Dad met during a soccer riot. When Frasier gets sick, she tells him that she's a good nurse, having mended all her brothers' football injuries.

 Frasier: Well, I didn't get injured playing soccer.

Daphne: Neither did me hooligan brothers.


 I throw house bricks for The Arsenal

I chuck lead pipe for West Ham

I kick and maim for Chelsea

I kill for Tottenham

I drop bottles for United on the crowd from up above

Yes football is the game that we all love

  • In an episode of George and the Dragon, George gets arrested for hooliganism, though what he did was mild compared to today. Look closely and you'll see the policeman who arrests him is Lionel from As Time Goes By.
  • Documented in Danny Dyer's (of The Football Factory) series The Real Football Factories and The Real Football Factories International.
  • In Australia, The Chaser's War on Everything had a skit involving selling Balaclavas and (fake) knuckledusters in club colors to Canterbury Bulldogs fans.
  • After the home team wins in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun:

 Mary: Listen, can you hear them celebrating?

Dick: [wistfully] Yes, the happy sounds of cars over turning and stores being looted. I love the smell of burning rubber, it smells like victory!


Tabletop Games


  • There's a play called Among The Thugs which is about an American writer who goes embedded in another hooligan group.

Video Games

  • The Allies main tank in Red Alert 3 was crewed by them.
    • Given that their base soldiers are upgunned riot police...
  • There is a whole game about them named Hooligans: Storm over Europe, which is a tactical RTS. From the POV of the hooligans.
  • Some of the Maceman' voice clips in Stronghold 2 are clearly intended to invoke the stereotype.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons' "The Cartridge Family" is a Take That to soccer in general. The crowd at an international match breaks into a riot because the game is so boring, and turns the city into a warzone.

 Willie: Ye call this a riot? C'mon boys, let's take 'em to school!

    • More rioting soccer fans in the episode Marge Gamer, where Lisa watches a documentary about them. It's enough to make a statue of the Virgin Mary comes to life and "beat the living snot out of everyone."
    • Same trope, different sport in "Lisa on Ice." When Bart refuses a penalty shot against Lisa, allowing their hockey game to end in a tie, it turns the crowd into a riot.

 Hans Moleman: We came for blooooood!


Real Life

  • Real Life semi-example: Winnie Mandela's bodyguards (read: armed thugs) were known as "Mandela United Football Club" and were modelled on one.
  • The real-life example known as the Football war deserves mentioning when you take into account that the rioting from the games increased the tension between the countries which led to the war.
    • Except that the tension between Honduras and El Salvador was already at the brink of the war at the time, and the rioting just triggered its start.
    • The Croatian war of independence also arguably started with a football riot. And in a related conflict, the Bosnian war, a paramilitary Yugoslav group consisted of hooligan supporters of Red Star Belgrade.
  • Egyptian football "Ultras" are often credited as being part of the first wave and strongest group of protestors in the 2011 revolution. A year later, they were also involved in the country's worst football-related massacre.
  • As stated above, English Football became the most iconic example of hooliganism during the 80's. Almost every club had 'firms' who would arrange punch ups with opposing firms from other sides. This would cumulate with the disaster at Heysel, at the time the whole game was a mess, with stadia crumbling and not being up to standards and loose regulations about drinking for example. Measures put into place like catch fencing would lead to Hillsbrough where even more people died. The Taylor Report which arose from those events called for several new rules and regulations like no alcohol allowed inside the stands and all seater stadiums. Despite the occasional riot breaking out the problem has been all but solved.
    • The bitter irony of the whole thing is that to have a deadly crush you don't even need hooligans — they happen even when all the fans are perfectly peaceful like in Luzhniki disaster, where all that was needed for a crush that killed at least sixty seven were the ice on the steps, an untimely goal by the end of an uneventful game, and, again, a failure of the crowd control.
    • Football hooliganism was so bad in Britain that following the Heysel disaster mentioned above (during which 39 Italian fans died largely as a result of the actions of English hooligans), for five years English teams were no longer permitted to play in games in the rest of Europe. In addition the already poor reputation as unruly louts that most British fans had, matters weren't helped by an unpleasant strain of bigoted xenophobia that such games tended to produce.
  • Manchester 2008. After a screen failure during the UEFA Cup Final between Scottish side Rangers and Russia's Zenit St. Petersburg, Rangers fans starting rioting throughout the city. Rangers would lose the Cup final (and the league that season). It was scenes of chaos, and seemed to have given Rangers a horrendous reputation in other countries, especially combined with other scenes in Spain. It should be noted that their rivals Celtic saw their fans awarded by FIFA for their behaviour during the 2003 UEFA Cup Final, showing how much the fans contrast.
  • In the US, similar things occur, but it's more well known with football. Just go to any game in Philadelphia to see a good example. Or just look at this clip from The Daily Show, which is making fun of it.
    • Hunter S. Thompson noted in his 1974 Rolling Stone article "Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl" that in the relatively early years of pro football (i.e. the early to mid '60s), the main reason anyone went to a football game was to get drunk, get high (if that was their thing), and brawl. The construction of new stadiums and change in target demographic (brought about in part by televising the game) put an end to this (to Thompson's dismay).
    • Massachusetts in particular is known for American Football hooliganry; after one Super Bowl, there were cars turned upside down and set on fire in Boston, and at least one murder.
  • The popular table football game 'Subbuteo incorporated a lot of clever marketing gimmicks which meant if you had enough time and money, you could buy from a formidable catalgue of extras that meant your tabletop footballers could eventually turn out in their own stadium, complete with stands, working footlights, scoreboards, advertising hoardings, TV crews, St John's ambulancemen, cigar-smoking manager and subs in the dugout policemen, stewards, programme salesmen, pie stall.... some fans of the game turned their Subbuteo playing areas into an art-form not unlike model railway layouts. Whilst the official Subbuteo vendor sold fans in packets of fifty to populate your model terraces, other enterprising and strictly unofficial vendors added topics the licenced dealers frowned on. In the form of Subbuteo soccer hooligans and streakers (male and female) that in an expanded rule set could be randomly deployed to disrupt matches...
  • It is not uncommon for the local police to patrol the sidelines dressed in riot gear at a high school football game at any town in Argentina, just in case the crowd gets a little too rowdy.
  • As bad as hooliganism gets in Europe, it's far worse in South America, and even more so in Argentina. Estimates are 250 people died in roughly 80 years as results of the "Barra bravas" (read: gangs of hooligans), and that's excluding 300 deaths in a match played by the Argentine national squad in Peru.
  1. Not failure to research but a subtle gag about English football culture: among fans of other teams it is often believed that all Man United fans don't live in Manchester and are shallow idiots who only like them because they're successful