"We Hate You and We Don't Care": The Character Traits, Racism, and Xenophobia of English Football Hooligans

Richard A. Wallace, University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Since the beginning of the year England has once again become embroiled in a battle on an old, and particularly surly nemesis, football hooliganism. Individually football hooligans are generally not too dangerous, but when they organize they are responsible for inflicting severe injury and social disorder, and on occasion, mass destruction. English football hooligans have organized in crews since the 1960s, having similar behavioral, organizational, and social characteristics to the American street gangs that were forming in the same period. But unlike American street gangs, the literature on hooliganism indicates that these crews evolved around a shared racist and xenophobic ideology.

Using data from West and Farrington's Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, a clearer picture of the individuals involved in the first generation hooligan crews will be provided. The intent of this paper is to discuss the social, political, and economic backgrounds of those involved in this criminal subculture, and to identify whether this group of hooligans were as racist and xenophobic as the literature has suggested.

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Updated 05/20/2006