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Thursday, May 15, 2008



sorry to hear about this...seems to happen a lot with soccer/football....wonder why? I only ask because here in america its not that popular and its the sports stars who usually do the brawling

Johnny Laird

That's such a huge question with no easy answers, Jason.

The Rangers game made me think, too:



Johnny - thanks for your comment and for pointing to you on post on this matter.
To pick up on your thoughts about Rangers and the Union Flag (note its only called the Union Jack when it is at sea) I think a major reason why it is used by some of the fans is historical. By this I mean the identification by some members of the Rangers fan base with Ulster Unionism and the Loyalist movement there.
I remember well the guys at high school I went to - just outside Glasgow - who would post tattoo’s showing their loyalty to both Rangers football club, paramilitary organisations such as the UVF and sectarian organisations like the Orange Order. As you say in your post - the reasons for the Rangers fans affinity to the Union Flag as complex.
There has been much good work done in recent years to take sectarianism out of football and in our back garden its common to see kids sporting both Rangers and Celtic kits without a hint of trouble or sectarian division. Indeed the funeral of Tommy Burns yesterday was testament to how far we've in recent years with football fans of different clubs laying aside their antagonism to the other to pay respects to a servant of the "beautiful game".


Jason - hmmm to say that the reasons for violence at football matches is complex would be an obvious understatement.
That said I'll venture a few comments.
I think a major difference between most North American sports and football both here in the UK and Europe is that football is a free flowing game of intense passion. The only North American game I can think of that is free flowing with intense passion is Ice Hockey! Base-ball, American Football and I guess even basket ball are all punctuated by stops and starts in a way that a football game is not.
Another observation is that Football clubs are very connected with a specific geographical location in a way that sport in the USA is perhaps not given that the franchised nature means that a team may be based in one city one year and in another the next. Thus in the UK the antagonism between teams can often carry an antagonism between different cities, different regions or even different parts of the same city.
One of the reasons as to why there was such violence in Manchester is that the crowds who gathered in the public spaces to watch the match were not necessarily those who would go to a regular game. The crowd was thus uncontrolled in that the 'hooligans' that over years have been banned from attending football matches in stadia, meaning that 99.9% of games are safe to go to, were free to assemble and cause trouble.
Another major factor is that what happened in Manchester happened every Friday and Saturday night, albeit on a much, much smaller scale all over the UK, that is both in England and Scotland. As a nation we have a problem with alcohol, social order and respect for authority. Thus to have over 100,000 people in confined spaces and allow them to drink for hours and hours was a recipe for disaster.

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