Security, locality and aggressive masculinity: Hooliganism and nationalism at football mega-events

Book chapter

Sly, J. 2021. Security, locality and aggressive masculinity: Hooliganism and nationalism at football mega-events. in: Dashper, K. (ed.) Sport, Gender and Mega-Events Bingley, UK Emerald.
AuthorsSly, J.
EditorsDashper, K.

This research assesses the likelihood of hooligan fan violence occurring at football mega-events, and uses a case study analysis of the interactions between Russian and English football supporters at the UEFA European Championship tournament held in France in 2016, and the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018, respectively. Taking into account subcultural developments in both domestic settings and internationally, this paper explores the complex and paradoxical issue of how two dissimilar hooligan fan identities are both separate from one another and interconnected in their antagonisms, both real and imagined.

Whereas much of the previous literature on the topic identifies security measures, policing and locality as being key factors in assessing the likelihood of fan violence occurring at international football events (e.g. Stott 2014, Stott and Pearson 2006; 2007, Stott and Reicher 1998), other recent work has highlighted the role of football supporter nationalism and geopolitical relations between nation states as being strong indicators of potential fan disorder (e.g. Kozon 2018). This work seeks to build on the previous literature about hooligan fan violence at sports mega-events, and aims to illuminate the importance of emic subcultural developments, alongside the issues of event security and locality, in advancing the theoretical explanation as to why some international football mega-events pass off relatively peacefully, and others suffer serious problems of hooligan violence.

Hooliganism is a global phenomenon that is seen to mutate and adapt alongside changes related to both the sport of football and to the particular societies in which the game is played. The case study of the interactions between English and Russian supporters at the two international football mega-events discussed, provides useful evidence as to how two disparate hooligan subcultures have evolved in relation to the societies from which they emerge. As well as the role of geopolitical relations and supporter nationalism in shaping the differing styles of aggressive masculinity performed by violent fan groups. Demonstrating how such forms of antagonistic collective (hyper-)masculinity have the potential to influence group moods and behaviour when the football teams of opposing nations face-off.

The work uses a mixture of empirical observational data from both football tournaments, semi-structured interviews with English and Russian hooligan groups, and a secondary data analysis of online media coverage of violent fan incidents to illuminate the ways in which the findings of the research add to the growing body of literature on fan identity, gender and disorder at football mega-events.

KeywordsSport; Gender; Mega-Events,; Masculinity; Football; Hooliganism; Violence; Security; Subculture
Book titleSport, Gender and Mega-Events
Book authorsDashper, K.
Output statusPublished
Place of publicationBingley, UK
Series Emerald Studies in Sport and Gender
Publication dates
Print29 Nov 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited04 Jul 2022
Official URL
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