Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Hooliganism: the English disease

By Mateo Sánchez (Interculturality elective)

The life of football fans in England has changed since the 60s. Although the word "hooligan" has a history going back to the nineteenth century, in the last half of the twentieth century this lifestyle became famous in the stadiums of England, as fanaticism and love for the team of preference led some fans to fight to the death.

David Stevens is from south London and a West Ham United fan. One day at 17 years old, after a match near Burnley Stadium he found himself in the middle of a fight between fans of Burnley and his team. As he was wearing the West Ham shirt, several fans of the other team started to attack him; the fight lasted about ten minutes, at the end of which he left without many blows thanks to the protection given to him by his own team's hooligans. From there, David felt like part of a family. His life changed and he found a way to live, that gave his life meaning and brought him close to other people who shared that feeling, that emotion. After he started his life as a hooligan, everything changed. His family life began to be absorbed by his friends, long trips to different stadiums consumed his time and his plans changed. He worked in a pub on weekdays to be able to pay for his different trips.

Fights, matches and large amounts of alcohol were his lifestyle for a long time, and constant broken noses and fractures remain as a mark on his body. Hooliganism is a way of life, which represents different psychological behaviour such as a feeling of anger. The people that are part of this group love violence, love the adrenaline that causes them to fight and love blood. It is an emotional disorder that makes people create the feeling that they belong to a club.

When David's first son Matthew was born, he was really happy, as he'd fulfilled his dream of having a son, a member of his family who would share his same love for football and West Ham United, a son who would go with him to all the matches and who would follow his lifestyle. Matthew's first sixteen years were focused on football and West Ham, and David went with him to every single match. Every day that shared feeling of love for the team caused them to share a connection that is inexplicable. David became the leader of the West Ham hooligans, and for that reason their time and forces were dedicated to organising trips and fights in stadiums around the country.

One day close to Emirates stadium, a fight changed David's life. After a match between Arsenal and West Ham, a huge fight caused the death of fifteen people including Matthew. Five Arsenal fans attacked Matthew several times. This caused a a heart attack that would lead to his death. Despite the doctors' best efforts, he couldn't be saved. The hooligans, football, and fighting had caused Matthew's death.

After that, David started a different life. The feeling of love for the shirt was changed for a feeling of guilt and nostalgia that does not let him feel alive. He started to hate football, and everything that had ended his son's life. David started to recover from the English disease.

Hooliganism is not a way of life; it’s an atmosphere full of violence, rage and death. We hope that fans can enjoy football with peace and love, that they can watch a match with fans of another team, and that they can love a shirt without the need to fight. We hope that the English disease can be cured.

No comments:

Post a Comment