Hooliganism is disruptive or unlawful behavior such as rioting, bullying and vandalism, usually in connection with crowds at sporting events.

Hooligans at a football match of Spartak Moscow in November 2010


There are several theories regarding the origin of the word hooliganism, which is a derivative of the word hooligan. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary states that the word may have originated from the surname of a rowdy Irish family in a music hall song of the 1890s.[1][2] Clarence Rook, in his 1899 book, Hooligan Nights, wrote that the word came from Patrick Hoolihan (or Hooligan), an Irish bouncer and thief who lived in London. In 2015, it was said in the BBC Scotland TV programme The Secret Life of Midges[3] that the English commander-in-chief during the Jacobite rising of 1745, General Wade, misheard the local Scots Gaelic word for midgemeanbh-chuileag—and coined the word hooligan to describe his fury and frustration at the way the tiny biting creatures made the life of his soldiers and himself a misery; this derivation may be apocryphal.

Early usageEdit

The word first appeared in print in London police-court reports in 1894 referring to the name of a gang of youths in the Lambeth area of London—the Hooligan Boys,[4] and later—the O'Hooligan Boys.[5]

In August 1898 the murder of Henry Mappin in Lambeth committed by a member of the gang drew further attention to the word which was immediately popularised by the press.[6] The London newspaper The Daily Graphic wrote in an article on 22 August 1898, "The avalanche of brutality which, under the name of 'Hooliganism' ... has cast such a dire slur on the social records of South London."[2][7]

The inquest was carried out by Mr Braxton Hicks who "remarked that the activity of the gang he referred to was not confined to Lambeth, but extended to numerous other districts. It was composed of young fellows who scorned to do a stroke of work, and obtained a living by blackmailing. It was a common practice for three or four of these men to walk into a shop and offer the shopman the alternative of giving them a dollar for drink or having his shop wrecked. In connection with the Oakley-street tragedy intimidation had reached an unexampled case. Witnesses had been warned that it would be as much as their life was worth to give evidence against John Darcy. On Wednesday plain-clothes men escorted the witnesses from the court singly. He himself had been warned - not by anonymous letter but through a mysterious personal medium - that if seen in a certain neighbourhood he would be done for. A magistrate had also told him that he had been the recipient of a like indignity."[8][9]

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in his 1904 short story "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons", "It seemed to be one of those senseless acts of Hooliganism which occur from time to time, and it was reported to the constable on the beat as such." H. G. Wells wrote in his 1909 semi-autobiographical novel Tono-Bungay, "Three energetic young men of the hooligan type, in neck-wraps and caps, were packing wooden cases with papered-up bottles, amidst much straw and confusion."[7]

According to Life magazine (30 July 1941), the comic strip artist and political cartoonist Frederick Burr Opper introduced a character called Happy Hooligan in 1900; "hapless Happy appeared regularly in U.S. newspapers for more than 30 years", a "naive, skinny, baboon-faced tramp who invariably wore a tomato can for a hat." Life brought this up by way of criticizing the Soviet U.N. delegate Yakov A. Malik for misusing the word. Malik had indignantly referred to anti-Soviet demonstrators in New York as "hooligans". Happy Hooligan, Life reminded its readers, "became a national hero, not by making trouble, which Mr. Malik understands is the function of a hooligan, but by getting himself help."

Modern usageEdit

Later, as the meaning of the word shifted slightly, none of the possible alternatives had precisely the same undertones of a person, usually young, who belongs to an informal group and commits acts of vandalism or criminal damage, starts fights, and who causes disturbances but is not a thief.[7] Hooliganism is now predominately related to sport.[10]

Violence in sportsEdit

The words hooliganism and hooligan began to be associated with violence in sports, in particular from the 1970s in the UK with football hooliganism. The phenomenon, however, long preceded the modern term; for example, one of the earliest known instances of crowd violence at a sporting event took place in ancient Constantinople. Two chariot racing factions, the Blues and the Greens, were involved in the Nika riots which lasted around a week in 532 CE; nearly half the city was burned or destroyed, in addition to tens of thousands of deaths.[11]

Sports crowd violence continues to be a worldwide concerning phenomenon exacting at times a large number of injuries, damage to property and casualties. Individual, contextual, social and environmental factors interact and influence one another through a dynamic process occurring at different levels.[12] Macro-sociological accounts suggest that structural strains, experiences of deprivation or a low socio-economic background can at times be instrumental to the acceptance and reproduction of norms that tolerate great levels of violence and territoriality, which is a common feature of football hooliganism.[13] Furthermore, social cleavages within societies facilitate the development of strong in-groups bonds and intense feelings of antagonism towards outsiders which in turn can facilitate group identification and affect the likelihood of fan violence.[13]

In British sportsEdit

In American sportsEdit

  • On 4 June 1974, Ten Cent Beer Night occurred at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. Intoxicated Cleveland hooligans jumped onto the field and attacked Texas Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs with the score tied 5–5 in the ninth inning. This led to a riot in which the drunken and rowdy hooligans—armed with an array of debris including chunks of the stadium seating—brawled with players from both teams as well as with staff members. The umpires forfeited the game to Texas.[14]
  • On 12 July 1979, Disco Demolition Night occurred at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. At the climax of the event, a crate filled with disco records was blown up on the field between games of the doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Many of those in attendance had come to see the explosion rather than the games and thus hooligans rushed onto the field after the detonation. The playing field was damaged both by the explosion and by the rowdy fans to the point where the White Sox were required to forfeit the second game of the doubleheader to the Tigers.[15]
  • On 14 October 1984, serious disturbances took place in Detroit following the Detroit Tigers' victory over the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series. One person died, eighty were injured and eight rapes were reported. Millions of dollars in property damage were reported.[16]
  • On 10 August 1995, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave out baseballs to paying customers as they entered the Dodger Stadium gates for a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. However, hooligans interrupted the game in the seventh inning when they threw these baseballs onto the field. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Cardinals were leading the game 2–1. The first batter, Raúl Mondesí, was called out on strikes and then ejected by home plate umpire Jim Quick for arguing, as was Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda moments later. Dodger hooligans, fueled by a series of close calls and a few rounds of alcohol, again threw their souvenir baseballs onto the field. The Cardinals left the field due to safety concerns and the field was cleaned up so play could resume. However, when the Cardinals returned to the field, at least one ball sailed out of the center field bleachers and the umpires immediately forfeited the game to St. Louis.[17]
  • In a 2001 NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, hooligans protested a questionable call by the referees by throwing plastic beer bottles onto the field. The game would end prematurely, though the NFL ruled the last minute had to be played out.[18]
  • In September 2002, in an MLB game between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field in Chicago, Royals first base coach, Tom Gamboa was attacked by two drunk White Sox hooligans, who were father and son.[19]
  • In a 2004 NBA game, the Pacers–Pistons brawl occurred. With less than a minute left in the game, a fight broke out between players on the court. After the fight was broken up, a fan threw a drink from the stands at Pacers player Ron Artest while he was lying on the scorer's table. Artest then entered the crowd and sparked a brawl between players and fans. Hooligans had entered the court and threw drinks and food at the Pacers.[20]
  • On August 20, 2011, in an NFL preseason game between the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco, multiple brawls and shootings broke out between hooligans from both rival teams. The league ended the annual preseason game between the two teams as a result of the hooliganism.[21]
  • On October 20, 2011, in an NCAA Football game between the UCLA Bruins and Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, Arizona, a hooligan entered the field during the game and ignited a brawl between the two teams. The hooligan, Jace Lankow faced felony charges for his actions.[22]
  • On 5 October 2012, in the Wild Card playoff game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves in Atlanta, after a questionable call on an infield fly rule on a hit by Brave Andrelton Simmons, hooligans protested the call by throwing several drinks and trash onto the field. The game had to be delayed by 19 minutes.[23]
  • On 21 November 2015, after an NCAA Football game between the Northwestern Wildcats and Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, several hooligans threw snowballs at the referees as they were leaving the field. This was in protest over a few questionable calls which negated Badger touchdowns.[24]
  • On 9 January 2016, in an NFL playoff game between rivals Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was being carted off with a shoulder injury. Cincinnati hooligans repeatedly pelted him with beer and garbage.[25]
  • In January 2017, an NCAA Division II basketball game between Lane College and LeMoyne-Owen College descended into a full-scale donnybrook. During the brawl a hooligan had entered the court, took a folding chair and struck a Lane player.[26]
  • On 10 December 2017, in an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Florida, Jaguar hooligans threw trash at the visiting Seahawk players. Seahawk player Quinton Jefferson had to be restrained from climbing into the stands and confronting the hooligans.[27]
  • In the aftermath of Super Bowl LII, after the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl, there were several incidents in Philadelphia of hooliganism in the streets, including at City Hall.[28]
  • On 27 September 2018, in an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, a brawl broke out between hooligans of both teams, which included a Rams hooligan being thrown a couple of rows down.[29]
  • On 21 November 2018, after an NHL game between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers, an Islander hooligan slashed a Ranger fan outside the arena. A Rangers fan had said that several fights broke out between hooligans of the teams.[30]
  • On 2 December 2018, during an NFL game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Steeler hooligans fought with one another. One hooligan headbutted the other and they threw punches at one another.[31]
  • On 6 February 2019, during the New England Patriots parade after winning Super Bowl LIII in Boston, a brawl broke out between several Patriot hooligans. Several punches and kicks occurred during the brawl.[32]
  • On February 6, 2021, during an NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, several hooligans brawled and threw punches during the game.[33]
  • On April 16, 2021, during a game against the rival Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Yankee hooligans threw several baseballs onto the field during the game, who were upset with how the team was performing.[34]
  • On May 12, 2021, during a game between NL West rivals the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, a Padres hooligan punched a Rockies fan, and had to be restrained until the police showed up.[35]
  • On May 15, 2021, during UFC 262 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas a few hooligans fought in the stands during the event, before security had to intervene.[36]
  • On May 24, 2021, during an MLB game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, hooligans, which happened to be mostly female, brawled in the bleachers during the game. Security stepped in to eject the hooligans from the game.[37]
  • On May 26, 2021, during an NBA playoff game between the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, a 76ers hooligan dumped popcorn on Wizards star Russell Westbrook after he was leaving the game with an ankle injury. The hooligan was ejected and Westbrook called on the NBA to better handle hooligan behavior like that.[38]
  • On May 30, 2021, during an NBA playoff game between the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, a Celtic hooligan threw a water bottle at Nets star Kyrie Irving, nearly missing his head. The hooligan did it after Irving stomped on the team's logo at midcourt, and is facing a lifetime ban for his actions.[39]
  • On June 11, 2021, during an NBA playoff game between the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado, a Suns hooligan fought a Nuggets hooligan. The Suns hooligan threw several punches at the Nuggets hooligan and left him with a bloody nose. Security got the Suns hooligan away, and a Nuggets fan threw a drink on him.[40]
  • On June 22, 2021, during an MLB game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres at Petco Park in San Diego, California, a Dodger hooligan started a fight with a Padre hooligan. The Dodger hooligan struggled and more Padre hooligans beat up the Dodger hooligan.[41]
  • On August 14, 2021, during an NFL preseason game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California, a Rams hooligan was angry at a Charger hooligan, and while they were arguing, a woman threw a soda on the Rams hooligan, which ignited several brawls.[42]
  • On September 3, 2021, during an NCAA football game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia, a North Carolina hooligan attacked the student section of Virginia Tech at threw punches. Security stepped in to restrain the hooligan.[43]
  • On September 4, 2021, during an NCAA football game between the Nicholls State Colonels and Memphis Tigers at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, several hooligans threw punches at another. The brawl was ignited by one hooligan who first threw several punches before other hooligans jumped in with more punches to subdue him. Blood was splattered amongst the end zone seats at the stadium.[44]

In the Soviet Union and RussiaEdit

Pussy Riot performing at Lobnoye Mesto in Red Square, on 20 January 2012

In the Soviet Union the word khuligan (Russian: хулиган - transliteration of the English word) was used to refer to scofflaws. Hooliganism (Russian: хулиганство, khuliganstvo) was listed as a criminal offense, similar to disorderly conduct in some other jurisdictions, and used as a catch-all charge for prosecuting unapproved behavior.[2][45]

Olympic medalist Vasiliy Khmelevskiy was convicted of hooliganism for setting a costumed person on fire during a celebration in Minsk in 1979 and sentenced to five years of imprisonment.[46] Mathias Rust was convicted of hooliganism, among other things, for his 1987 Cessna landing on Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge next to Red Square.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, nowadays, hooliganism is defined generally in the Criminal Code of Russia as an average gravity crime.[47]

More recently, the same charge has been leveled against members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot for which three members each received a two-year sentence on 17 August 2012. Hooliganism charges were also levelled against the Greenpeace protesters in October 2013.[48]

In filmEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "hooligan". Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Harper, Douglas. "hooligan". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  3. ^ Scotland, BBC. "The Secret Life of Midges". BBC website. BBC. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Who were the original Hooligans?". Daily News. quezi.com. 24 April 1894. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Who were the original Hooligans?". Reynolds Newspaper. quezi.com. 29 April 1894. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Who were the original Hooligans?". The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times. quezi.com. 13 August 1898. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Quinion, Michael (27 June 1998). "Hooligan". World Wide Words. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  8. ^ "REIGN OF TERROR IN SOUTH LONDON. OAKLEY STREET MURDER. WITNESSES THREATENED". Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper. 24 July 1898 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ "LAMBETH TRAGEDY. THE ARREST IN THE STRAND. ONE OF "HOOLIGAN'S GANG". Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper. 17 July 1898 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  10. ^ Osman, Gusmusgul; Acet, Mehmet (2016). "The Open Sore of Football: Aggressive Violent Behaviour and Hooliganism". Physical Culture and Sport Studies and Research. 71 (1): 30–37. doi:10.1515/pcssr-2016-0015.
  11. ^ McComb, David (2 September 2004). Sports in World History (Themes in World History). Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 0-415-31812-2.
  12. ^ Nepomuceno, Thyago Celso C.; de Moura, Jadielson Alves; e Silva, Lúcio Câmara; Cabral Seixas Costa, Ana Paula (December 2017). "Alcohol and violent behavior among football spectators: An empirical assessment of Brazilian's criminalization". International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice. 51: 34–44. doi:10.1016/j.ijlcj.2017.05.001. ISSN 1756-0616.
  13. ^ a b Dunning, E., Murphy, P., Waddington, I., & Astrinakis, A. E. (Eds.). (2002). Fighting fans: Football hooliganism as a world phenomenon. Dublin: University College Dublin Press
  14. ^ "Dan Coughlin recalls the Indians' famous Ten-Cent Beer Night". Cleveland.com. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  15. ^ Joe Lapointe. (4 July 2009). "The Night Disco Went Up in Smoke". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Mike Klingaman. (25 November 2004). "Detroit fans have history of combustible behavior". The Baltimore Sun.
  17. ^ "Three Strikes and Dodgers Forfeit : Baseball: Game is called after fans throw balls on the field with one out in the ninth. Nomo overshadowed.". Chris Baker. (11 August 1995).
  18. ^ Meisel, Zack (16 December 2014). "An oral history of BottleGate, 13 years after Cleveland Browns fans stole the spotlight". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  19. ^ RUBINSTEIN, JASON. "Tom Gamboa, famous for getting attacked by drunken fans at Comiskey Park, back in baseball leading the Brooklyn Cyclones - NY Daily News".
  20. ^ Candace Buckner. "As 'Malice at the Palace' brawl turns 10, impact lasts". (18 November 2014).
  21. ^ https://bleacherreport.com/articles/815700-raiders-vs-49ers-fan-brawl-why-nfl-made-right-call-ending-preseason-rivalry
  22. ^ https://arizona.sbnation.com/arizona-wildcats/2011/10/22/2506895/arizona-ucla-streaker-jace-lankow-charges
  23. ^ "Stark: The nightmare at Turner Field". ESPN.go.com. 6 October 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  24. ^ "Wisconsin fans pelt refs w/ snowballs after calls". SBNation.com. 22 November 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  25. ^ Sandritter, Mark (9 January 2016). "Bengals fans threw garbage at an injured Ben Roethlisberger as he was carted off the field". SB Nation. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  26. ^ "Conference investigating brawl between Lane and LeMoyne-Owen". CommercialAppeal.com. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  27. ^ "Seahawks' Quinton Jefferson tries to climb into stands after fans throw drink". USAToday.com. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  28. ^ Wan, William; Nutt, Amy Ellis (5 February 2018). "Why do fans riot after a win? The science behind Philadelphia's Super Bowl chaos". Retrieved 7 February 2018 – via www.WashingtonPost.com.
  29. ^ "Rams vs. Vikings Fan Brawl, Man Flung Over Bleachers! - TMZ Sports". youtube.com.
  30. ^ "Islanders fan, angry after blowout loss, punches Rangers rooter bloody outside Madison Square Garden".
  31. ^ "Steelers fans fight each other during game". 3 December 2018.
  32. ^ "Patriots fans celebrate Super Bowl 53 win with all-out brawl". 5 February 2019.
  33. ^ https://www.outkick.com/watch-wild-maskless-fans-fight-at-spurs-rockets-game/
  34. ^ https://fansided.com/2021/04/16/yankees-fans-tantrum-rays-video/
  35. ^ https://www.tmz.com/2021/05/13/padres-fan-knocks-out-rockies-fan-violent-punch-video-mlb/
  36. ^ https://www.news18.com/news/sports/ufc-262-fans-have-fight-of-their-own-as-brawl-breaks-out-in-the-stands-3742604.html
  37. ^ https://www.thebiglead.com/posts/brawl-white-sox-cardinals-women-01f6gwx2etjz
  38. ^ https://sports.yahoo.com/fan-ejected-after-throwing-popcorn-on-russell-westbrook-014415258.html
  39. ^ https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/celtics-vs-nets-fan-who-threw-water-bottle-at-kyrie-irving-arrested-banned-from-td-garden-for-life/
  40. ^ https://www.thebiglead.com/posts/suns-nuggets-fans-fight-video-bloody-nose-01f80c1vz99n
  41. ^ https://www.tmz.com/2021/06/23/dodgers-padres-fan-fight-stadium-video/
  42. ^ https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2021/08/16/brawl-breaks-out-sofi-stadium-first-game-allowing-fans/
  43. ^ https://www.barstoolsports.com/blog/3382159/watch-this-unc-fan-went-absolutely-nuts-on-virginia-tech-students
  44. ^ https://www.foxnews.com/sports/memphis-fan-knocked-out-cold-chaotic-scene-liberty-bowl
  45. ^ Silverglate, Harvey (2009). Harvey Silverglate on 'Three Felonies a Day' (YouTube). 3 minutes in. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  46. ^ "Вечно третий или бронза тоже благородный металл - Популярные статьи - Библиотека международной спортивной информации". BMSI.ru. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  47. ^ Johnson, Ben (1 August 2012). "Why Are Pussy Riot's Alleged Crimes Called 'Hooliganism'?". Slate Magazine.
  48. ^ "Greenpeace piracy charges 'dropped'". BBC News. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2018 – via www.BBC.co.uk.
  49. ^ Becker, Peter Heath. "The Asphalt Jungle". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 5 August 2015.