Violence for violence’s sake

There is one question about football hooliganism that begs an answer more than many other: what is it really that makes these young – and in some cases also middle-aged – men find pleasure in fighting? Is it the love of and loyalty to their team that drives them to it? Or does the explanation for hooligan violence lie in the fact that it is basically committed almost without exception by men? And do the brotherhoods that organize into football firms have something to do with class, education, ethnicity or urban origins? Is this in turn linked to something that belongs specifically to football or spectator sport?

Obviously, one cannot ignore that factors of this type are important for understanding hooliganism, but they scarcely explain why hooligans fight. Certainly, men in general commit more acts of violence than women do, and have done so through the ages. But if that suffices as an explanation for hooliganism, then one is simply using tawdry essentialism to s...

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