Any psychology-based study of aggression and violence in sport must give some attention to aggression and violence among team supporters or fans, and this chapter focuses on that topic. While this form of aggression and violence can sometimes be prompted by violent action involving players, or other events during a game, sport-related disturbances and riots often occur for other reasons. It is necessary, therefore, to examine the aggressive and violent behaviour of supporters or fans as separate phenomenon.
The first part of this chapter discusses fan violence and sports riots in general, applying reversal theory to develop a new typology of sports riots. The second and third sections are concerned with probably the most enduring form of sports violence and rioting, soccer hooliganism. No chapter on sport fan violence would be complete without some reference to soccer hooliganism. It is ten years since Understanding soccer hooliganism, the first book to use reversal theory to explain soccer hooligan behaviour, was published in 1994. In those ten years, soccer hooliganism has continued almost unabated in several European countries. Among those countries is the Netherlands, and the second part of this chapter is comprised of a study of a large soccer hooligan confrontation there, where one man was killed and several others seriously injured. Soccer hooliganism has also been a cause for concern at major international soccer tournaments during this period. The World Cups in France in 1998 and Euro 2000 in Belgium-Holland both had major soccer hooligan incidents. The third part of the chapter examines events around World Cup Korea-Japan 2002, where no real soccer hooligan incidents took place in either country during that tournament in spite of the fact that the England team were playing.
In the discussion that follows, 'spectators' are defined as those who go to watch matches for the enjoyment of the play without having a particular allegiance to either team, 'fans and supporters' as those who attend games for enjoyment, but who have followed a team for some time and have an emotionally vested interest in a team's success or failure, and 'hooligans' (most often associated with soccer) as those who attend games primarily to engage in aggressive and violent behaviour. Although hooligans may claim to be passionate followers of a team, they utilise this affiliation as a kind of flag of convenience to accommodate their fighting.