Owen Gibson: The host nations of the next two World Cups are among those struggling to contain a rising tide of trouble on the terraces
So I have recently read the article above on The Guardian’s website and overall it is a well put together article but I feel its lacking the meat of the matter which, to me, is asking one question, Why? Why is there a rise of the far right amongst youth? Why does this correlate with what is happening on the terraces?
Well folks, I may not be able to answer this exactly but the fact is it has happened before. The seventies and eighties in England saw a spike in football violence. It was quite often tied, in the media ,to the English movement, the National Front… etc. During this time we were also seeing a push from the Thatcher led government for England to shake off the shackles of old industry and hold up in the cell of emerging industry. Plants, factories, and mines were closing and more and more people were on the dole to make sure ends meet.
So there is a little background, the world is changing and youth unemployment is increasing like never before. According to Richard Layner, in his article “Youth Unemployment in Britain and the United States”, youth unemployment went from 3.6% to 7.4% from 1974 to 75 and then went on to increase by 1.7% the following year. So picture it, you are young, you and most of your friends were either let go or cannot find work and everyone is blaming the government. You are now pissed off and the only thing you find affordable anymore is cheap ale and football. Let’s not forget that in 1975 a little known band called the Sex Pistols were about to rock the music scene to it’s core and also egg on the frustration against the government.
So now we have the far right and its organizations saying, “Everyone is angry at the government, how can we use this to get what we want?” This is how we get the National Front and other parties looking to attract young minds by blaming immigrants for the issues at hand. No jobs? The Immigrants took them from you. Then they took this dog and pony show to the first place they knew young people gather, football grounds.
So to put simply, if you piss enough people off because you don’t provide them some sort of outlet through occupation or the ability to have an outlet through legal hobbies, they make their own. Enter football violence, an institution that had been around a lot longer than 1970 and was an outlet for anger and frustration for a group of the community that felt oppressed and disenfranchised. It seems that this phenomenon is happening again.
In the article the author mentions Greece’s right wing group, Golden Dawn, and the way they have gone about using football as a platform to vocalize their opinions. This is much like the National Front or the English Defense League in the UK. So why is football violence again turned to for recruiters? Because once again the youth is feeling the brunt of the country’s mistakes. They feel hopeless and angry. Greece’s youth unemployment rate is around 50%, give or take, that is ludicrously high and I feel these kids have a right to be angry. Sadly, they are just finding the wrong people to believe in. Russia is the same way with youth unemployment at about 15%. These groups in the far right know that their best chance to increase their ranks is to get these kids that are uneducated and jobless.
Just look at Brazil and their protests during the Confederations Cup. They are pissed off because their country decided to line their own pockets and look towards marketing themselves for the future rather than create better infrastructure and healthcare for their citizens. That would have me raring to have a go at someone.
I understand not all football violence can be attributed to this reasoning but a fair bit of it can. If you want to read more about football hooliganism I suggest looking towards someone more suited to tell you about it, such as Bill Buford and his amazing book “Among The Thugs”.