Socio-legal approach to 'football hooliganism'
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Association football is the most popular and significant of "supporter sports". Its spectator misbehaviour is portrayed and conceived as an exclusively modern and British phenomenon and as a violent disease prevalent in the professional game, when it is none of these things. Nevertheless, it is an important socio-legal issue. The mass media have played a substantial role in fostering such misconceptions, and hold a vested interest in creating and perpetuating "football hooliganism" as a "social problem" or "moral panic". The social controllers, in their use of the criminal law and penal control, also out of vested interests, have reacted to the behaviour in an unnecessarily repressive and harmful way, while it is suggested that a more fruitful approach might have been through the development of innovations based on some model of self-help or at least through the invocation of the civil law. This conclusion is reached following investigation and analysis over several years of how football fans actually behave at match outings, of their interactions with law enforcement agents, and of the views of the participants themselves, all of which are described.