University of Leicester eBulletin

New World Cup Resource

May 2002
No 107

Soccer studies experts at the University of Leicester - the first in the country to research the causes of football hooliganism - have compiled a new web resource on the World Cup.

Along with facts and information on the Finals, the resource provides an insight into the increasing commercialisation of the game - and the implications this has for the sport.

It also deals with issues relating to hooliganism and national identity.

Researchers at the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research at the University of Leicester have released the comprehensive fact sheet on the following web address:

http://www.le.ac.uk/snccfr/news/

Under examination is the increasing role of commercialism in the World Cup finals and particularly the new kinds of sponsors that are becoming involved. 

A brief history of FIFA is offered along with a look at Sepp Blatter's role at the head of the organisation.

Centre researcher Sam Neatrour said: "The fact sheet looks at the preparations made by the co-hosts for the event and gives some details of the new stadia that have been built.

"It is acknowledged that the costs incurred by the two countries are twice that of the previous finals. The TV deal is documented with reference to the massive amounts of money the media have paid to get the broadcast rights.

"The questions surrounding security are looked at along with the issues of ticketing and the hooligan threat. Finally, attention is turned to the FA's efforts to try to offer a different identity for England fans, in particular the ideas and findings of the chairman of The England Members Club, Mark Perryman. A new approach for a national community."

Mr Neatrour added: "In compiling this fact sheet the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research has provided an invaluable resource or starting point for anyone researching, or who has an interest in, the issues which are facing international football, its governing body and the World Cup finals"

NOTE TO NEWSDESKS: For more information please contact Sam Neatrour Researcher, Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research, University of Leicester, tel: 0116 252 2751

Selected points from the University of Leicester Web Resource: 
HOOLIGANISM

Arguably, the threat of hooliganism rather than terrorism is the major concern for officials in Japan and Korea. Not only has either country simply never accommodated travelling football supporters on this scale before, but also they have never had to deal with the threat of the European football hooligan. It has been suggested that because of their relative inexperience in dealing with hooliganism, police may not know how to handle the problem appropriately. It has been reported in the British press that the Japanese authorities have planned to use a 'secret weapon' to deal with hooligans, a gun that fires 'restraining nets.' The Japanese authorities have bought forty of the guns. With the England v Argentina group match being one of the high-risk games in the first phase the guns may be seen for the first time in a major sports tournament.

The reputation that England has for exporting hooliganism has led to plans to increase the number of police officers at England matches in Japan. The expected number of police officers for England matches is now 500-700; this would be the highest number used in the whole first phase of the tournament. For any football hooligans convicted in Japan of serious violence arrangements are being contemplated which will allow such offenders to serve their sentences in the UK. The Japanese have accepted the suggestion that those people who are convicted of an offence which demands a four month sentence or longer, can serve their sentences in their home countries. The costs of dealing with foreign offenders is one of those things which deters home governments from seeking convictions against foreign nationals.

It was anticipated that up to 10,000 English fans will travel at some stage to the finals in Japan. Of these, it is likely that very few will be committed hooligans. Unlike venues in Europe for example, Japan is difficult and expensive to reach, offers no opportunities for short stay visits, and offers little of the 'beach, sun and drinking' culture which seems to be part and parcel of attractive venues for England fans who might be willing to get involved in 'trouble' at international tournaments. What is more concerning, perhaps, is the way the Japanese authorities might react to 'normative', northern European non-hooligan supporter styles. The collective street drinking, singing and carnivalesque displays of European fans will be very unfamiliar to the rather more publicly reserved Koreans and Japanese. Already in the build up to the finals TV documentaries on hooliganism were very prominent on Japanese TV. Hooliganism from foreigners may well be a problem in Japan - but so too, potentially, is police overreaction to the exuberant behaviour of football supporters drawn from different cultures. Hosting the World Cup is partly about welcoming and enjoying cultural diversity - within the law, of course. There is a danger that cultural difference at football can provoke problems when tolerance to difference might be a better bet.

If there is hooliganism in Japan and Korea, it is likely to come from a limited number of, largely, European sources. So, despite the serious hooliganism in their domestic club football, there is little prospect of hooliganism in Japan from Italian fans - though racism might be a problem here. Italian 'ultras' do not typically follow the national team. Nor will there be hooligans travelling from France, Spain, Portugal or from many other of the major European football powers. Few hooligans travel from South America for tournaments in Europe, even though the hooligan problem in Argentina for example is a serious one. Heavy drinking is connected, by many, with hooliganism, but the Danes and the Irish will drink more than most in Japan - but will also be among the friendliest fans there. Real attention will focus on the English and on the Germans. Fans from these countries are normally at the centre of any very serious hooliganism problems at major tournaments. English fans often claim now that they are provoked into trouble when abroad, and it is certainly true that the reputation of England fans precedes them and often stirs local youth into a challenging and aggressive 'welcome' for the English.

IDENTITY

As Chair of the England Members Club and academic researcher Mark Perryman (2002) discusses ways of trying to change how England football fans are viewed. He puts forward a number of interesting recommendations on how to develop a new 'national community' for support of England which will ensure that England has the 'best fans in the world'. Briefly, some of his ideas include:

Football Tourism should be promoted. Through inviting match ticket holders along to travel forums, fans could be highlighted to officials from abroad not just as hooligans but as people who are interested in other aspects of the cities they visit. Perryman argues it would give a 'sense of majority' that English people who travel to the major tournaments are amongst the best, not the worst, supporters. Love Football Love England. Because of the greater numbers of foreign players playing at every level of the game in this country the link between nation and loyalty is not as strong these days, contends Perryman. Wanting England to win and all others to lose should not be exclusive. 'Love football, love England' is about encouraging people of other nationalities to see England as their second team.

Flying the Flag. The St George flag draped around somebody with a shaven head is often an image publicised on television and in the newspapers. However this isn't the whole picture, four fan-led initiatives have highlighted the 'friendliness' of the St George flag.

a.       Raise the Flag - this can be seen at nearly every England home game. It is the red and white cards being held up by fans to form the St George Cross flag, it is a positive image of support for England.

b.       The St George Cross Banner - flags with the place of their owner printed across the middle, on show at all England matches.

c.       The Supporters' Band - playing the famous Great Escape tune it has nearly become as popular as the national anthem as a way of identifying with England.

d.       The Fan Embassies - Organised and run by the Football Supporters Association (FSA), they accompany England to all games. Information and advice is provided by them and they publish a free fanzine entitled Free Lions .

Perryman argues that these four fan activities should be encouraged and supported to create a new picture of what and who England fans are. Although very different to following a league club every week, following England can mean a fan culture which develops along the lines of those that we witness every week in league football.

Anybody Need Tickets? A 'fair tickets campaign' with the FA demanding that 15% of tickets go to the two countries who are playing in the match.

All Roads Don't Lead to Wembley. Perhaps not so surprisingly this proposal highlights the massive successes that have been witnessed through England playing at various football grounds around England. From St James' Park in the North East to White Hart Lane in London the majority of fans support this touring of the country even though fewer tickets are available than what would have been the case if Wembley was still being used.

In the Name of St George. National emotions increase considerably when a major football tournament is taking place. Football becomes dominant in sport debates but also makes main headlines in the news. Perryman argues that football should highlight 'the good of St Georges Day'. At all levels of the game from school football to Premier League football, a day should be spent "celebrating football as part of the national community". A reinvention of what the community of football means; highlighting the fact that it is not just men and it isn't just whites. A 'softening' of the symbolic ideas associated with the flag could be undertaken through highlighting the good that football can out into the world on April 23rd, St George's Day.

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