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Something needs to be done to stop idiots from spoiling our beautiful game.

The football season is almost over, many people living near grounds around the country will be breathing a sigh of relief, as this season has seen an increase in football related violence all over Britain.

So far this footballing year, there have been many different instances of hooliganism, both on and off the field; there was the very well documented clash between fans of Leeds United and Cardiff City after the latter beat the former in the FA Cup, there was the Millwall fans on the rampage after losing to Birmingham City in the Play offs, not to mention the crowd invasion when Aston Villa played host to Manchester United in the FA Cup.

But are the players and teams themselves guilty of setting a bad example for the fans?
For example, there was the recent Court case involving two Premiership footballers, the actions of certain Chelsea footballers on a night out, there was also an incident involving a Liverpool defender who reacted after a coin was thrown at him from a fan during a recent game by throwing it straight back at the person involved. Not to mention the tough-tackling Leicester midfielder who is accused of, ahem, releasing his bowels in the referees toilet before a recent game, and not flushing it, an act of blatant dissent.

An example be made of these players to show that the FA will not tolerate such behaviour? The clubs of course don’t want to sack the players, particularly if they are any good, for obvious reasons, so they often opt for giving them a fine – usually around the £20,000 mark, which, for most that I have mentioned, is less than a weeks work. The FA should step in, by hitting the players where it hurts, not in the pocket but by banning them from playing for a certain length of time, depending on the seriousness of the situation.

With the large squads that the top teams have, by banning those who misbehave, there will always be someone to step in and take over, who could make a lasting impression, thus costing the punished player their most sacred team place. I am sure that this would make those with ‘behavioural difficulties’ think twice about setting a bad example to those who idolise them.

The trouble off the pitch however, is a much more serious one indeed. Many times have I witnessed acts of hooliganism, blatant thuggery between two sets of ‘rival fans’, battling it out for the honour of who beat who. I'm 21 years old and not many things have fascinated me more than ...
why on earth two large groups of people would attack each other and want to kill each other, for the sake of football.

I don't believe these people have the slighest interest in 'football '. I have spent some time just watching hundreds of people at a football match throw missiles and goad each other for the whole game, without a clue as to what is happening on the pitch.

I believe that certain parts of the media areto blame for glamorising some aspects of football hooliganism. Almost every season an autobiography is published by a ‘reformed’ hooligan, and this year was no exception. In January a book called ‘Soul Crew – The inside story of Britain’s most notorious hooligan gang’ was published, by ‘former bad boys’ Tony Rivers and Dave Jones. It details their exploits as hooligans of Cardiff City, from when they were 15 to the age of about 35, and, if I am being honest, makes the subject seem quite attractive and masculine, and I am sure will make an impression on some influential youths.

The press is another part of the media that can be blamed for inciting hooliganism, particularly during major international events, such as the European Championships and the World Cup. By using headlines such as "Achtung. Surrender. For you Fritz ze World Cup is over" (The Sun, before England v Germany in Euro 2000.) The tabloid press can certainly be blamed for stirring up racist sentiments amongst their readers via such rhetoric. Sensational reporting like this of International games will certainly incite violence amongst fans that don’t need much encouragement in the first place.

Football is heading in the wrong direction, and something needs to be done to stop the rot. Players are earning too much money and abuse it.
The FA needs to stand up and prevent players from playing following incidents of indiscipline on and off the pitch, and make it stick.
Clubs need to stamp down on badly behaved fans, by preventing them access to the ground on match days. Press regulators could stamp down on sensationalist reporting, by imposing heavy fines on those who play xenophobic and racist cards.

© Welshy

Third year Journalism Student at Lincoln University. UK

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