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Old 05-01-2019, 11:46 AM
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Does football(soccer) breed more fan violence than other sports, and if so, why?


Sure, there are violent or rowdy fans of any sport, but ISTM that football(soccer) breeds the hooliganism at a different level altogether. Is it something about the sport that just makes fans violent (which is odd, since soccer itself is a fairly tame and uneventful sport - unlike American football which involves all kind of hard hits and tackles), or are these European/South American/Mexican/Chinese fans just spectators who would have been itching for violence in any other sports context anyway?
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:57 PM
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I think you can very easily and objectively say that the latter scenario is the case. Because in places like the US and Canada where soccer/football does exist, you don’t hear about hooliganism among fans of that sport. It’s only found in other parts of the world.

I believe that the reason why this behavior is tied to that sport is because in most of the world it is by far the most dominant sport. If those countries with football hooligans were instead dominated by rugby or basketball, I have no doubt that you’d hear about hooligans in those sports.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:05 PM
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I think the issue is noted right in your title: "football(soccer)"

The fans are extremely angry about that confusion because their sport had the name football first.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:07 PM
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Is football hooliganism still a thing? I don't hear of any legitimate football violence more often than I hear about baseball violence or NFL violence.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:26 PM
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soccer has always been a "low-class sport" and it used to have a lower class of fans that would go to drink and brawl and the sport was just an excuse and some formed gangs/clubs

these days its calmed down somewhat .. .but there's a racist undertone that pervades a lot of it especially in Italy
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:25 PM
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... their sport had the name football first.
Blame the Brits, who coined the name "soccer" ~150 years ago. And who are now among the loudest complainers about its use.
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Old 05-03-2019, 12:05 AM
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The violence stems from enduring the crushing boredom of watching grown men in tiny shorts run around for 1000 minutes without accomplishing a damn thing besides throwing themselves to the ground in a grotesque pantomime of agony now and again. It's enough to make men and women of goodwill seethe with an unquenchable rage.
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Old 05-03-2019, 01:27 AM
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The violence stems from enduring the crushing boredom of watching grown men in tiny shorts run around for 1000 minutes without accomplishing a damn thing besides throwing themselves to the ground in a grotesque pantomime of agony now and again. It's enough to make men and women of goodwill seethe with an unquenchable rage.
To add a few more

Arguably the most intense rivlary on the planet, in any sport, is the Old Firm derby - Rangers and Celtics. No other sport has even remotely the same religious and political conflicts that exist between the Protestant (and Unionist) Rangers and the Catholic (and Irish nationalist) Celtic. As you can imagine, this would bring about an absolute tinderbox of clashing loyalties, where brawling on the streets before games is not uncommon.

Often regarded as the second most intense rivalry in the world - South America's Boca Jr. vs River Plate - the fans' warring shenanigans is based more on economics, where Boca fans are (stereotyped?) as the proles' team, while River Plate are regarded as the "rich man's" team. Again, such underlying dynamics cannot be found anywhere else between opponents of any sport, however the actual violence that perpetuates between the fans of these two sides is fortunately not as protracted as it is with the Old Firm.
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Old 05-03-2019, 04:02 AM
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Is football hooliganism still a thing? I don't hear of any legitimate football violence more often than I hear about baseball violence or NFL violence.
Large scale fighting in the stadium is a thing of the past, that hasn't been an issue for many years in the UK. Most people would be happy taking their kids to the match IME, although the (very bad) language puts some off from doing this. Hooligan culture, which was definitely a thing in the 70s / 80s, no longer exists as an easily identifiable movement.

Whether you could say football fan violence has gone I'm not sure - successfully kept in check perhaps. Home and away fans are still explicitly segregated, which I guess is the main indicator that there's potential for trouble - you don't get that in most other sports AFAIK. Ticket sales are restricted by postcode for some fixtures, away fan support used to get police escorts out of the ground, although I've not experienced this myself for a while.

Of course all of this is a socioeconomic phenomenon and has nothing to do with the sport of football, as has already been said. Football is the beautiful game, afterall. Rugby union in the UK is the sporting equivalent of thirty cavemen hitting each other over the head with rocks and sticks, but has no crowd trouble whatsoever.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:16 AM
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. Rugby union in the UK is the sporting equivalent of thirty cavemen hitting each other over the head with rocks and sticks, but has no crowd trouble whatsoever.
Well, now I'm curious about how to watch Rugby Union.
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:33 AM
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Well, now I'm curious about how to watch Rugby Union.
It's occasionally carried on sports cable networks here in the U.S. The annual "Six Nations" tournament (between the national teams of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, and Italy) just ended a few years ago, and I got to watch several of the matches -- friends of mine, who grew up in Ireland, had bought a streaming subscription package to see all the matches.

I've watched quite a bit of rugby union over the past few years, and I enjoy it a lot, even though I don't perfectly understand all of the rules yet. It moves quickly, and while, yes, there are very hard hits, not only are the crowds well-behaved, but the players generally are, too -- the referee in a rugby match demands it, and unsporstmanlike violence simply isn't tolerated.

As my friend likes to say: "football (soccer) is a beautiful game, played by thugs, while rugby is a brutal game, played by gentlemen."

Last edited by kenobi 65; 05-03-2019 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:43 AM
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I was asking myself the same thing the other day but about NCAA Basketball vs any other NCAA sport. What is it about basketball that leads to riots after winning/losing big games or championships?
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Old 05-03-2019, 10:05 AM
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The annual "Six Nations" tournament (between the national teams of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, and Italy) just ended a few years ago
That should have been "just ended a few weeks ago"
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Old 05-04-2019, 10:48 PM
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To add a few more

Arguably the most intense rivlary on the planet, in any sport, is the Old Firm derby - Rangers and Celtics. No other sport has even remotely the same religious and political conflicts that exist between the Protestant (and Unionist) Rangers and the Catholic (and Irish nationalist) Celtic. As you can imagine, this would bring about an absolute tinderbox of clashing loyalties, where brawling on the streets before games is not uncommon.

Often regarded as the second most intense rivalry in the world - South America's Boca Jr. vs River Plate - the fans' warring shenanigans is based more on economics, where Boca fans are (stereotyped?) as the proles' team, while River Plate are regarded as the "rich man's" team. Again, such underlying dynamics cannot be found anywhere else between opponents of any sport, however the actual violence that perpetuates between the fans of these two sides is fortunately not as protracted as it is with the Old Firm.
Nonsense. The religious element of the Old Firm rivalry is fairly unique, but I think in almost any situation where you have two teams in the same city, one will be stereotyped as the “working class” team (White Sox, Jets, Mets, Man City) and one as the rich folks team (Cubs, Giants, Yankees, Man United).
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:35 AM
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This isn’t a primer or anything but it served as a good introduction for me recently:

https://m.imdb.com/title/tt8169088/

For the sport in general.

Last edited by Lucas Jackson; 05-05-2019 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:53 AM
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Nonsense. The religious element of the Old Firm rivalry is fairly unique, but I think in almost any situation where you have two teams in the same city, one will be stereotyped as the “working class” team (White Sox, Jets, Mets, Man City) and one as the rich folks team (Cubs, Giants, Yankees, Man United).
Hmmmm really? You dead sure, then, that the teams you mentioned have anywhere near the same socio-economic distinctions as that between Boca and Plate, especially when City have actually been associated with nouveau riche ownership? I've certainly never seen such a division highlighted in the media for those teams the way I have for BJ/RP, to be sure.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:10 AM
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Well, now I'm curious about how to watch Rugby Union.
With beer.

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Old 05-05-2019, 10:46 AM
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The more brutal the sport, the more the fans work out their aggressive tendencies while watching it. In a less violent but still intensely contested sport, the fans get no catharsis through the game, and so have all those simmering tensions, ready to erupt.
If badminton were a big sport with large enthusiastic fandoms, there might be terrible violence after matches. We are fortunate that it doesn't seem to draw a big fan base.

I'm only half serious in general, and not at all about badminton, but it might explain why I've recently become an enthusiastic ice hockey fan. My life is stressful right now, and watching playoff hockey is really easing the stress.
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:06 PM
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The more brutal the sport, the more the fans work out their aggressive tendencies while watching it.
If the nature of the sport itself contributes to fan violence (and I'm not sure that's the case), I think it's less about the brutality of the sport than about the nature of scoring.

I've lived for extended periods in Australia, the UK, Canada, and the United States, and I've been a keen follower of all sorts of sports: rugby league, rugby union, cricket, Australian rules football, soccer, baseball, American football, and ice hockey. About the only major sport from those countries that I haven't followed with any regularity is basketball.

I haven't been to a top-flight soccer game in over 20 years, but I went to a few when I lived in England, at grounds like Anfield (Liverpool), Old Trafford (Manchester United), and Elland Road (Leeds United, who were in the top division back then). One thing that always stood out to me was the level of pent-up tension in the crowd, and the incredibly raucous response to scoring a goal - and the massive disappointment at conceding one. This seemed, in considerable measure, to be a product of the fact that scoring is a rather rare event in soccer compared to many other sports, and the explosion of emotion that follows a goal seems orders of magnitude greater than the celebrations after a home run or a touchdown or even a hockey goal.

In the reading I've done on this issue, though, it seems to me that fan behavior is better explained by conditions off the pitch than the nature of the game itself. The first thing to note about soccer is that, while it still has a reputation for fan violence, it has gotten immensely better over the years, and violence is far less prevalent than it used to be. And even when things were worse, violence generally wasn't as bad as the periodic reports made it seem. Some big incidents got highlighted, and in the minds of many people (especially Americans, I think), those incidents came to stand for the sport and its fans as a whole, making for somewhat inaccurate perceptions. Soccer hooligans were nearly always a relatively small percentage of the total fanbase.

This article (you need a JSTOR account), from all the way back in 1980, compares soccer in Britain with the then-fairly-new emergence of professional soccer in the United States. The author concluded that fan violence was unlikely to be as much of a factor in the United States, largely due to different social and economic and cultural factors among the crowds, and also physical issues like stadium design.

Factors contributing to violence in the UK, according to the author, included the working-class nature of the game, the incredibly social and collective nature of fandom, the cramped and dirty conditions on the terraces (this was before the rise of all-seat stadiums), the comparative lack of women and children in the stands, and the ritualized nature of game attendance, often including long bus rides starting before dawn in order to get to away games, and extended drinking sessions in pubs and taverns before the game.

It's different in America, where the society itself has a less clearly articulated set of class identities, where class differences at sporting events are less apparent, where fan rituals like tailgating tend to be more individualist or small-group rather than large-group events, where stadiums are large and clean and seated, where there is a greater security presence, and where it is much more difficult for large groups of fans to travel together to away games.

The travel thing is quite important, I think. Probably the two most distant teams from one another in the current Premier League are Newcastle and Bournemouth, and yet these two teams are less than a six-hour drive apart. When teams play away at distant locations, convoys of fan buses will leave the home town, often at four or five in the morning, so that hundreds or even thousands of fans can attend the away games. The long trip, followed by a couple of hours in pubs before the game, lend a sense of collective identity that you don't get in American sports. And many European countries are small enough to allow the same sort of away fan game attendance.

When the fans arrive at the ground, they are also generally segregated, with particular sections reserved for away fans. The idea is to keep the warring factions apart, but some people have argued that conflict might actually be reduced by abandoning this type of arrangement and distributing home and away fans more evenly throughout the stadium.

While the distance and fan travel issues remain in English soccer, many of the other factors that contributed to fan conflict have changed since 1980, and violence has decreased. Stadium disasters in Europe, like Heysel and Hillsborough, led to the death of the terrace and the rise of all-seat stadiums in the 1990s. The growing popularity of soccer as a world game led to greater investment and more money, which also made tickets more expensive. This made the game itself more middle-class in terms of those in attendance, with more women and children in attendance. The bad reputation of English soccer led to greater efforts at policing violence, both inside the stadiums and by law enforcement in general, targeting those who organized the violence.

It's worth noting, too, that there's actually quite a bit of fan violence associated with professional sports in America. Hardly a week of the football season goes by without a video of a brawl in the stands, or a fight in a parking lot, or something similar. Here's just one article about such incidents from a few years back, and I could provide dozens more. There have been prominent incidents of fan violence related to baseball and hockey and basketball as well. This violence is somewhat different in nature from the collective violence that is sometime associated with soccer fans, and the level of security at these games means that when it happens in the stands it tends to get quashed pretty quickly, but it would be wrong to think that violent fans are unique to the round-ball game.
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:06 PM
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If badminton were a big sport with large enthusiastic fandoms, there might be terrible violence after matches. We are fortunate that it doesn't seem to draw a big fan base.

I'm only half serious in general, and not at all about badminton...
Yeah some of those Olympic rhythmics events can get pretty thuggish in the stands.


Fine post, mhendo.

Is it a fair statement that Brits are the most houligan-y travelling fans? And if so, why?
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:57 PM
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The violence stems from enduring the crushing boredom of watching grown men in tiny shorts run around for 1000 minutes without accomplishing a damn thing besides throwing themselves to the ground in a grotesque pantomime of agony now and again. It's enough to make men and women of goodwill seethe with an unquenchable rage.
Well yeah, except there are other major sports with long boring sequences.

Come to think of it, those other sports at least have plenty of breaks to go get beer, offload beer etc. Could soccer's paucity of breaks contribute to pent-up rage?
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Old 05-05-2019, 07:58 PM
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Hmmmm really? You dead sure, then, that the teams you mentioned have anywhere near the same socio-economic distinctions as that between Boca and Plate, especially when City have actually been associated with nouveau riche ownership? I've certainly never seen such a division highlighted in the media for those teams the way I have for BJ/RP, to be sure.
No, I know nothing at all about Argentinian soccer. And yet I feel entirely confident in stating that Boca’s OWNERS aren’t working class, so I don’t know why you’d bring that up. It’s not something that’s necessarily talked about in the media a whole lot, but I guarantee that everyone in Chicago and New York, whether they follow the sport or not,knows which of their baseball teams is for the posh crowd and which is the working man’s team. Granted that those reputations correspond only very vaguely to the reality, which is that both teams draw support from all classes. If there really is a class difference between Boca and RJ fans, that could certainly explain the ferocity of the rivalry. But the fact that Boca can afford to be competitive on the field tells me they must have some wealthy supporters.
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Old 05-06-2019, 01:55 AM
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...and all those points are totally well taken; I should have been clearer earlier in saying that BR/RP is basically touted a bit more as a rick man's/poor man's clash than the vast majority of sports franchise rivalries are (or "derbies", whatever the sport might be).

A relief to see Chelsea secure a Champions League position for next year, and then this week they have a Europa semi against Frankfurt. Nice (but not earth-shattering) to secure third epl spot if the Blues can win their final match in Leicester.
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Old 05-06-2019, 03:36 AM
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Nonsense. The religious element of the Old Firm rivalry is fairly unique, but I think in almost any situation where you have two teams in the same city, one will be stereotyped as the “working class” team (White Sox, Jets, Mets, Man City) and one as the rich folks team (Cubs, Giants, Yankees, Man United).
In Barcelona that was the original division, but since Barça rebranded itself as the independentist club it's been one of "indepes" vs "españoles". Note that "the other team" actually has Español or Espanyol in the name (the spelling varies b/w Spanish and Catalan, the pronunciation is different only for specific dialects of Catalan).

In Seville the division between Betis and Seville corresponds to the traditional division between both sides of the river: upon meeting for the first time, people from Seville quickly ask each other any of multiple questions which boil down to "Seville or Triana". There are economic, social and cultural differences between Left Side and Right Side, Triana and Seville. It doesn't quite get to be between Roma and Payo (non-Roma) because neither do the two areas themselves. The same division repeats in anything you care to name, to the extent of people being "of the Macarena" (the image of Our Lady of Hope who presides the Cathedral of Seville) or "of the Trianera" (the image of Our Lady of Hope who presides the Hermit of Triana).
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Old 05-06-2019, 03:46 AM
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No, I know nothing at all about Argentinian soccer. And yet I feel entirely confident in stating that Boca’s OWNERS aren’t working class
You seem to be assuming ownership similar to that of American sports teams. I can't find information about Boca specifically in a quick search, but a lot of soccer clubs are owned by their supporters: that's where the "association" comes from. Being a socio gives you a season's ticket, makes you a voting shareholder, etc.


Assuming that kind of structure and while not all of Boca's socios will be working class (their former chairmen include among others the current President of Argentina), it's perfectly possible that the majority are.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:39 PM
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You seem to be assuming ownership similar to that of American sports teams. I can't find information about Boca specifically in a quick search, but a lot of soccer clubs are owned by their supporters: that's where the "association" comes from. Being a socio gives you a season's ticket, makes you a voting shareholder, etc.


Assuming that kind of structure and while not all of Boca's socios will be working class (their former chairmen include among others the current President of Argentina), it's perfectly possible that the majority are.
The Green Bay Packers of the NFL are a bit like that. They’re unique among major US professional sports teams.
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Old 05-07-2019, 02:57 AM
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The more brutal the sport, the more the fans work out their aggressive tendencies while watching it. . .
Baseball is the least violent of the four major professional sports in the U.S., and it doesn't have a problem with fan violence.

Tennis is a big sport and has almost zero problems with fan violence.

Alcohol contributes to violence. There are more fights when it's easy for fans to get drunk and stay drunk. Fights used to be more common at baseball games, but then they took measures to keep people from getting sloshed, such as not selling beer in the stands, limiting the number of drinks one can buy at a time, and disallowing people from bringing in cans and bottles. It helped. There are fewer fights than there used to be at MLB games.

Rivalry also contributes to violence. Back when the Giants played at Candlestick Park, there were always fights in the stands when they played the Dodgers.

General social mores probably also have something to do with it. England had soccer hooligans when the country had a lot of disaffected, angry young men. Those days are gone, and soccer hooliganism is gone with them.
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Old 05-07-2019, 09:20 AM
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One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of soccer teams derived from old club teams that were local to a specific part of a city. This is especially true in the UK, where there's a very developed and very granular league system- for example, there are 13(!) professional soccer teams in London, and I suspect that there's a lot of local pride and identity wrapped up with say... living in Lewisham and following Millwall FC, and their neighbors in Rotherhithe support Fisher F.C.

But I agree that it's more social norms and mores; we just haven't had that level of hostility in the US, regardless of rivalry, social class, etc. even at high school sporting events, where you'd think tensions would be highest, since they're intensely local, and as a result, reflect the differences in society even more starkly than something as generic as our pro sports teams.

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Old 05-07-2019, 04:33 PM
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Well, if there isn't violence in Barcelona after today's result, there oughta be!
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:02 PM
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Well, if there isn't violence in Barcelona after today's result, there oughta be!
They're getting a taste of what they did to Paris St-Germain back in the day.
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:05 PM
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Today's Champions League result is fucking awesome!

Go Reds!

I was resigned, after the first leg, to that being Liverpool's end of the road. I was actually saying, somewhat sarcastically, to a friend of mine a few days ago, "Well, the only way they win the draw is a 4-0 victory in the second leg. Wouldn't that be awesome. Ha ha!" I didn't think there was a snowball's chance in hell of such a result.
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:47 PM
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One more derail - you gotta hand it to Barca for their consistency in dropping 3-goal Champions League advantages (to Roma last year).
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:23 PM
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To add a few more

Arguably the most intense rivlary on the planet, in any sport, is the Old Firm derby - Rangers and Celtics. No other sport has even remotely the same religious and political conflicts that exist between the Protestant (and Unionist) Rangers and the Catholic (and Irish nationalist) Celtic. As you can imagine, this would bring about an absolute tinderbox of clashing loyalties, where brawling on the streets before games is not uncommon.

Often regarded as the second most intense rivalry in the world - South America's Boca Jr. vs River Plate - the fans' warring shenanigans is based more on economics, where Boca fans are (stereotyped?) as the proles' team, while River Plate are regarded as the "rich man's" team. Again, such underlying dynamics cannot be found anywhere else between opponents of any sport, however the actual violence that perpetuates between the fans of these two sides is fortunately not as protracted as it is with the Old Firm.
Maybe not that unique; doesn’t that exact ethnoreligious divide also exist between Hibernian (Irish, immigrant, Catholic) and Hearts of Midlothian (nativist, Unionist, Protestant), in Edinburgh? But Hearts-Hibs is not nearly as notorious as Rangers-Celtic. Why? Either Hearts and Hibs fans are less violent (not the impression you get reading Irving Welsh); or their conflict just doesn’t get the coverage that the Old Firm does. Scottish Dopers want to weigh in?

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I think the issue is noted right in your title: "football(soccer)"

The fans are extremely angry about that confusion because their sport had the name football first.
Oh, this again. Soccer and gridiron can both be called “football” in exactly the same way, and for exactly the same reason, that gorillas and chimpanzees can both be called “apes”.
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Old 05-08-2019, 08:42 AM
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Is it a fair statement that Brits are the most houligan-y travelling fans? And if so, why?
No, it isn't.

British hooligans had the most publicity in the 70s/80s, which probably has as much to do with a free press as much as anything. You didn't get to see much behind the iron curtain in those days.

There are hooligan elements in many countries - and it's true that British fans often get picked on during international competitions by locals looking for a fight. But they are less likely to be the ones that start it these days.
  #35  
Old 05-18-2019, 10:21 AM
racepug is offline
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One of my favorite soccer authors, Paul Gardner, once wrote that he believes it does (although I think he framed it more around the term "passion" rather than "violence") because of the low-scoring nature of the sport where "the scoring of a goal, the one goal that could decide the game, means the joyful, explosive release of dammed-up hopes for one group of fans, utter despair for the other." (the end of Italy vs. Germany 2006 comes to mind when I read/recall that)
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