Thursday, September 20, 2007


On popular request (well; it was one question from Anders, not really worded as a request, and it certainly wasn't popular), here is a post at least related to soccer. Seeing as how I know jack about soccer and care even less, I'll come at the subject from an angle.

Last night I caught half an apisode of Hooligans on Discovery Channel. The concept of the series is that one dude travels around the world to meet soccer hooligans and hear their stories/povs. Quite interesting and very disturbing. British 'ooligans were the subject last night, and what fascinated me about these specimens was that in contrast to other career criminals - many of the portrayed subjects lived off of welfare and had been in and out of prison many times for hooliganism - was that there is no financial motive whatsoever. Drug dealers make money. Burglars make money. Armed robbers make money. Carjackers make money, etc. Hooligans are on welfare. Neither is there a clear-cut religious or ideological motive. As far as I know, there is no promise of an afterlife filled with 37 virgins (other than perhaps their "mates") for hooligans, and these people probably couldn't define "ideology" if their lives depended on it, so you can't really label them terrorists in the traditional sense of the word. So what about the old stand-by "disease"? Absolutely not - unless you can point to a gene or chemical unbalance that causes people to beat up other people because other people root for a different soccer team, ye olde medical get-out-of-jail free card is pretty much useless. So is the "temporarily insane" defense attorney copout, because these people are repeat offenders. That's a hell of a temporal occurrence if you get "insane" by freak accident each and every time you go to a soccer game or meet supporters from another team over a period of X years. Spontaneous levitation AND combustion have better odds than that.

So; if pressed, would you be able to find a synonym for "hooligan"? This word would have to be able to describe a bottom of the gene pool, low rung on the social totem pole inhabiting, little to no education having, 100%, grade A, money back guaran-damn-teed serial loser of both genders and all nationalities and races whose primary interest is strongly tied to the soccer scene. You can't put a racial epithet on hooliganism, as it thrives on all continents. Maybe beer plays a role in this too, as I have a hard time imagining some geezers loading up on merlot before they throw down with other soccer fans. Any suggestions?

Even though this series mainly deals with hooligans in Britain, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Poland and Holland, it's not like you won't find hooligans in Norway. In the above synonym for "hooligan", I suspect one would also have to factor in intelligence, either as IQ or in some other quantifiable form. Imagine for a second that in three consecutive events, Brann Stadion in Bergen, Lerkendal Stadion in Trondheim and Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo were beamed out in space while the venues were packed on game night. Being beamed out in space is an occurrence from which you're not likely to return, so it's a good bet that the occupants of these three venues won't contribute to traffic jams any more. Another consequence I'd be willing to put down good money on, is that following these three events, the average IQ in Bergen, Trondheim and Oslo would increase significantly.

Despite soccer being the world's largest sport (I think), there are some bush-league tendencies in the way the franchises are run. For example; you have major league soccer clubs/franchises being bought up by some former Soviet billionaire like Abramovich or whatever his name is. If you believe that anyone can come out of the fall of a communist dictatorship and become a multibillionaire in a few years while 99.99% of the inhabitants came out even poorer without being a straight up crook, I've got some oceanfront property in Nebraska to sell you. You don't expect something like this to happen in legitimate businesses - Vinnie the Switchblade from New Jersey doesn't all of a sudden acquire the stock majority of IBM. In Norway, it's also fairly transparent that the official supporter clubs for many of the major league teams silently condone hooliganism. Every time there is a major coincidence, the leader of e.g. Klanen (Vålerenga's supporters) comes out and condemns "the very small number of 'Enga supporters who behave violently" while official songs have lines like "Vi ska' ut å banke bønda" (we're gonna go out and beat up the hicks) and their most famous crowd chant/motto is "Øl, vold og skamslåtte bønder" (beer, violence and battered hicks). As long as soccer violence is a reality, those aren't just words. If you can't market it properly towards the family market segment, the franchises are also losing tons of money.

Plus I guess I just don't understand why in the blue hell someone would start a fistfight with someone else because they support another soccer team. What I understand even less is why the police doesn't go Israeli on their asses as soon as there is a soccer-related riot. This type of behaviour doesn't fall in the same category as a political demonstration, for example, as it has no basis in any belief or political system and has nothing to do with race or nationality. All it does is get soccer fans hurt, and also hold the very real risk of hurting police personnel, police horses and police dogs. I say break out the night sticks, water cannons, tazers and rubber bullets.


Anders said...

Van Damn. I missed the program on Discovery. Was planning to watch it.

What I understand even less is why the police doesn't go Israeli on their asses as soon as there is a soccer-related riot

I'll tell you why, at least here in Norway: The hooligans plan their fights ahead. Yes, it isn't just a random meet between "football fans", it's planned and the good word is spread through e-mail, text messages and so fourth. And in Norway the police has starting to take this problem serious and are lining up outside stadiums when there are "high risk" games.

However, since the police actually manage to stop the fights when they are there (more or less), the hooligans start meeting elsewhere.

Like when the match is in Ullevål, two bunch of hooligans meet up in Drammen for a fight...

BUt you're right. Sometimes I miss Willy Haugli as cheif of the police.

Wilhelm said...

LOL at Van Damn! I'm a' jack that.

They mentioned the planning ahead-thing in the program. It's even more amazing if they're not even near the soccer game and just schedule to meet at a distant location to fight while the game is ongoing.