How Bad Is England’s Soccer Hooligan Problem?

Bad behavior from some English supporters alarms European fans

Police horses
Police horses outside of an England-France friendly in 2015.
Ben Sutherland/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / October 11, 2019 11:00 am

In the words of the endlessly meme-able song, football may be coming home, but soccer enthusiasts around the world are concerned about something very different. Supporters of the English National Team have sparked alarm for soccer fans around the world; turns out some supporters of the Three Lions have developed a penchant for bad behavior — and it’s caused local governments across the continent to develop contingency plans.

England is set to play the Czech Republic in Prague today in a qualifying match for Euro 2020. ESPN’s Mark Ogden reports that the juxtaposition of a rowdy group of away supporters and a city that’s known for inspiring drunken carousing has left more than a few people concerned.

The prospect of more than 5,000 English fans according to FA sources — with 3,700 tickets having been sold through official channels — massing in a city that has become synonymous with alcohol-fuelled “stag dos” arriving on low-cost flights from the United Kingdom is one that has caused considerable alarm within the English FA.

Ogden goes on to explore why some English supporters have developed this reputation, and how their country’s Football Association has acted to curb this behavior. “Outbreaks of trouble when England play abroad — games in central and Western Europe are the biggest flash points due to ease of travel — have become a regular occurrence,” he writes.

It’s something that’s alarmed the sport’s governing bodies, supporters elsewhere in Europe and English supporters who’d prefer to cheer on their team without dealing with the violent antics of a small percentage of their group. 

Ogden also contrasts how the Premier League has used security measures and stadium designs to cut down on hooliganism — measures that haven’t always been taken in the international realm. The whole article is well worth a read, and offers an unsettling look at how antisocial behavior by a few is ruining certain games for many.

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