U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Towards a Sociological Understanding of Football Hooliganism as a World Phenomenon

NCJ Number
European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2000 Pages: 141-162
Eric Dunning
Date Published
22 pages
This article conducts a sociological analysis of football hooliganism as a world phenomenon.
The author uses primarily English newspaper articles on football violence in and outside of Britain as an empirical base for exploring how hooliganism can be theorized and understood. These data can provide an approximation of the worldwide incidence of football hooliganism in the 20th century. The author supports the figurational/process-sociological approach to football hooliganism that is historical and developmental. It also involves an exploration of the meanings of hooligan behavior through an analysis of verbatim statements by the hooligans themselves; locates the football hooligans in the overall social structure, especially the class system; and examines the dynamics of the relationship between them and groups in the wider society. The author advises that it is unlikely that the phenomenon of football hooliganism will be found always and everywhere to stem from identical social causes and conditions. As a basis for further cross-national research, it can be hypothesized that the problem is stimulated and characterized by, among other factors, the major "fault-lines" of particular countries. Effective policies are needed if the popular sport of football is to be protected from the serious threat posed by a combination of hooligan fans; complacent politicians; and money-grabbing owners, managers, and players. 8 tables and 25 references