The number of arrests at this year’s World Cup is the highest in recent history, and disorder on the pitch has raised concerns over security.
Ros Atkins on the Wembley disaster
According to the UK’s football police director, arrests at football matches in the top five English leagues are at an all-time high, with fan disturbance “growing worse.”
Following Baroness Casey’s recent report into the Euro 2020 final violence, which found “ticketless, drunken, and drugged-up thugs” could have caused death as they stormed Wembley, the latest data on the first half of this season, which has seen the return of fans to capacity stadiums, comes the latest data on the second half of this season, which has seen the return of fans to capacity stadiums.
In the first six months of the season, there have been over 800 football-related arrests and over 750 documented acts of unrest.
The head of the UK’s Football Policing Unit, Chief Constable Mark Roberts, said incidences of anti-social behavior among younger supporters are a particular source of worry.
Roberts has already expressed his reservations about the recently added safe standing ‘rail seats,’ as well as a trial program that allows supporters to drinkexternal-link within sight of the field.
After a large event, he added, heightened levels of disorder are to be anticipated, but the present level of activity is “concerning.”
The primary statistics show that there is more disturbance, more arrests, and fewer games.
- Data was gathered from English domestic competitions solely from July 1 to December 31, 2021, and compared to the same six-month period for season 2019-20, the last one without limitations before the epidemic.
- So far this season, there have been 802 football-related arrests, up from 547 in 2019-20. This is the greatest amount of arrests since UKFPU began collecting data in season 2015-16.
- Disorder was recorded in over half (48%) of all games throughout the Premier League, EFL, and National League in season 19-20, compared to 34% in season 19-20.
- Flares, projectiles, and hate crime were among the 759 occurrences recorded, up 36% from 560 in 19-20.
- Young supporters under the age of 25 were involved in 210 incidents, up from 154 in 19-20. The average number of cases affecting people under the age of 25 during the previous five years was 168.
- This is despite the fact that there are 1,581 less games this season (1,581) than in 19-20 owing to postponements (1,670)
- The Championship and National leagues have seen the most recorded occurrences of disturbance. From 2019-20, there was a 58 percent increase in the Championship and a 56 percent increase in the National League.
- 66 percent of football matches in the top five English leagues had police present, compared to 46 percent in 19-20.
‘The greatest difficulty in gaming is culture.’
The Baroness Casey report on the enormous disturbance at the Euro 2020 final, released last month, characterized “drunk and drugged up thugs” as being responsible for “a day of national disgrace” at Wembley Stadium on July 11, when England lost to Italy.
Lady Casey identified the “culture” surrounding disorder at football events as “the largest barrier” in addressing behavior, advocating a Football Association effort to induce “a sea-change in views regarding fan behavior.”
‘Tom,’ a spectator at the game, told Radio 5 live: “There was a group of ten friends in our row who didn’t have tickets and were all sniffing cocaine. It was quite risky.”
According to the testimony presented to Baroness Casey’s report, large quantities of narcotics, mainly cocaine, were being consumed. According to the research, illicit drug usage was seen by 47 percent of the 7,000 ticket holders who took part in the evaluation when they arrived at Wembley, with steward and security officials reporting a high degree of drug use.
“I believe drugs is a far larger problem than most people realize,” Lady Casey said, calling for a “national discourse about more civility and accountability” that extends beyond football.
‘Steve loves for football lad culture,’ according to a supporter.
The Football Supporters Association’s Amanda Jacks recently shared the tale of one supporter named ‘Steve’ on social media as an example of some of the “football lad culture” being reported:
“Steve lives for football culture, a culture that belongs to a lot of young men. A culture that involves mates, fashion, image, alcohol and cocaine & sometimes trouble. He tells me that he doesn’t go looking for bother but equally he won’t run from it either.
“He’s previously been convicted of a very small offense, and although acknowledging that this should have served as a wake-up call, it wasn’t enough to convince him to give up, or at least reduce, his lifestyle.”
“When I asked him what drew him to this way of life, he immediately said that it made him feel like a man and allowed him to project a certain level of masculinity. He was well aware that some people would consider his masculinity to be poisonous.
“Despite his wonderful fortune, Steve is uninterested in putting money down for his future. That isn’t unusual, but in Steve’s case, he sees neither convention nor stability in his future.
“What I can’t stop wondering about is how someone so self-aware and perceptive (at such a young age) can be so hooked to a way of life that is bad in so many ways, according to his own admission.”
“How terrible it is that someone seemingly so brilliant is presently willing to toss his future away so he may exhibit a particular sort of masculinity he believes is what being a guy is all about,” says [Steve].
What are the justifications? – response
Professor Geoff Pearson, a senior professor at the University of Manchester and one of the UK’s foremost specialists on football-related disorder, said the statistics supported “anecdotally, what we have been hearing from both football officials and fan reps,” according to the report.
“It’s pretty common for us to find regional variations in terms of levels of football violence and disorder,” Pearson told Sport. “But I believe the new figures are fascinating because they seem to imply maybe a national trend.”
“There are a variety of causes for this, some of which are related to fan behavior and others to match management in general.
“In terms of fans, it’s possible that we’re seeing a post-lockdown impact, in which fans didn’t have the chance for that transgressive carnivalesque behavior during lockdown, and now they’re letting their hair down and participating in more provocative and borderline illegal behavior.”
“In terms of management, we’ve been out of live football attendance for 18 months, and that’s had an impact on the police because those opportunities to build relationships, engage in dialogue, and identify problematic individuals simply haven’t been there, and there’s a lot of knowledge that’s been lost, as well as key personnel who’ve moved on.”
Given the rise in disruption, Chief Constable Roberts said attempts to amend alcohol consumption restrictions at football – which are now restricted while in sight of the field, unlike rugby and other sports – were “madness” and “irresponsible.” Pearson, on the other hand, argues that the laws should be “re-thought.”
“Alcohol has always been a problem in terms of football attendance,” he continued, “and unfortunately, legislation enacted in the 1980s hasn’t been effective in reducing alcohol consumption and has in fact created issues like crushing at concourses, late entry at turnstiles, and those are many of the flashpoints where the incidents of disorder this season have occurred.”
- football sunday