the following transcript is from an interview on Team Talk 252 which took place on May 14th 2002 on the “It’s Your shout” program. The interviewer is Jamie Broadbent. Guests are Robin Manser and he responds to pre-recorded comments by Dr Peter Marsh.
This interview was far more in-depth than the previous one at BBC Radio Leeds and covered aspects of the current and past states of hooliganism and what would be expected at the World Cup in Japan and Korea.
Jamie Broadbent pointed out that the night before the interview, police in Cardiff had to intervene to prevent disorder amongst/between Cardiff and Swansea fans. He pointed out that if you watched the BBC 2 program ‘hooligans’ on Sunday night (12/05/02) it was pointed out that incidences of disorder had been happening all season, “however, the FA and the Premier League are trying to put across the image that football is a family game and that hooliganism was a thing of the past”.
When asked “I don’t know whether we go back to the 70s and 80s where most people were aware of hooliganism and the press sensationalised it …”
ROBIN “I think one of the problems today is that it (hooliganism) has moved away from the stadiums, and this kind of relinquishes responsibility of the football clubs…keeping the glamour alive of football as we know it, but, I do think, like CCTV cameras, it just displaces it to elsewhere in the community. They are (hooligans far better organised, a lack of shirt (football) wearing and so on, so the people can mingle quite easily with your ordinary sort of Joes on the street”.
JAMIE “If you look back to the 70s and 80s you see the fighting in the crowds, you see the fighting in the stadiums and it’s very well documented and people’s notion of football hooliganism is the fact that, it happened in the 70s and 80s, suddenly the 90s arrived and the e-generation arrived and all football hooligans became ‘loved-up’ and E-heads, that’s basically what people are saying and suddenly now they’re saying, ‘well it’s come back again’, it never really went away did it?”
ROBIN “No it didn’t, I’m absolutely 100% convinced about that. As far as I can see from research that’s been undertaken and work that I have been doing over the last 4 years, football violence has just taken on a different kind of mantle, the organisation of it, the almost military style, way that these things are organised has taken it away from public view, but also it’s interesting to look back to the 70s and 80s where there was almost an unspoken rule that media, such as newspapers stopped showing photographs of it, you know, on the inside back page, where Kevin Keegan was there with his arms raised on the back page. So these guys on a Sunday lunch-time could say ‘that was me, we were involved in that’. So it’s kind of moved it out of the general public’s arena. On the other hand, I do think you would have to be fairly unfortunate to be caught up in it. The Millwall fiascoes this season are fairly high profile but other skirmishes tend to be rather small and I do think, as a n innocent person, in other words, if it’s hooligans fighting hooligans that’s one thing, but as an ordinary bystander you would be very unfortunate to get caught up in it, in the UK”.
JAMIE “In terms of saying though. ‘innocent people getting caught up in it, you’re quite right, it probably is quite difficult, for probably me or Adam (newsreader) to get caught up in it, if we go and watch Everton take on Man City, but the point is, they can go in to pubs, and a lot of documentation at the moment is, the organisation is, sometimes it’s not even a fight, if you take over their (opposing hooligans) local pub, and you feel their local pub, then you’ve got one over on the opposition. Now, you could as an innocent be drinking in that pub when it surged, well when the fight kicks off in that pub, like it has done around grounds, hasn’t it this year?”
ROBIN “Yes, definitely, one of the tactics seems to be a sort of territorial sort of gain. what I researched initially was the Manchester United, Leeds United rivalry and it’s all about whether you can take Wetherspoons in Deangate over at Manchester and so on. So, I do think there is that aspect of it, but maybe it could be interesting if anybody could call in and say whether they have been caught up in that situation in a pub, I think that would be very interesting. It could happen, but You would have to be unfortunate, I think”.
CALLER “I think Millwall should may be be put on trial for 12 months”
JAMIE “It’s not just the problem of Millwall………..I was hoping they would come up to the premiership because perhaps they would be dealt with, but again it’s that thing of sweeping it under the carpet isn’t it Robin?”
ROBIN “It is indeed, I think one of the things we have to look at here is the fact that football hooliganism, generally speaking, tends to get worse, the lower down the divisions that you get, and because of the amount of people in the stadiums in the Premiership, you tend to get heavier policing and obviously with Millwall it would be what they call a category C game, which is high profile, there is always going to be a history, it doesn’t matter who Millwall play, there will be history somewhere and there will be the opportunity for revenge”.
ADAM ” You say that though Robin, according to the police with the Millwall, Birmingham incident 47 officers were injured an hour and a half after the game, all the Birmingham City supporters were kept inside, but definitely a pre-planned effort against the police, as opposed to the Birmingham supporters!”
ROBIN “Yes, I think so. There are certain organisations throughout the UK, football clubs, such as, Stoke City is another one, Cardiff, and in particular, who if they don’t get to fight the opposing fans will have it already planned to take on the police if necessary”.
Robin also mentioned that just before the World Cup or an international competition, domestic hooliganism does seem to escalate.
ROBIN (regarding hooliganism per se) “It (hooliganism) is a societal problem and football is only one area where it manifests itself”
JAMIE “In terms of it being a society problem, we spoke to Dr Peter Marsh, he’s from the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), unfortunately we spoke to him prior to the show, Robin hasn’t got a chance to argue back with him, we will listen to some of the interview we did this morning and we’ll come back with our points on that “.
CALLER “Things are getting a bit worse in England, I must admit. The local Derby games now are worse than before. There are a lot of trouble at the Derby game (against Everton) there has been now for about the past 5 years, and the other point is that over in Italy at the last two games Liverpool have played we’ve had thirty supporters stabbed or slashed”
JAMIE “Well Robin Manser’s in the studio he’s the first person to be given a scholarship to investigate hooliganism by FIFA so he’ll know more about this, 136 Man Utd fans I remember being arrested at Beyer Leverkusen, so there is a problem escalating in Europe. Is it a bigger problem in Europe?”
ROBIN “I think it’s an interesting scenario. Towards the end of last year, myself and a couple of colleagues were given a little bit of money from the Home Office to go and look at the way fans like yourself (the caller) were treated abroad, and I actually went out to watch Liverpool play Boavista and I went out to watch Manchester United play Lille and one of the things, and this is my personal perspective, I can’t really speak for the whole team because we are still working through transcriptions and stuff of the interviews. But what surprised us more than anything was that the fans, if they were seasoned travellers, wholeheartedly expected to be treated badly. They expected to be treated badly, first and foremost by the police, they expected to be herded from pillar to post, to be treated like third rate citizens and I think that, the fact that there’s expectation, a lot of these people, the Liverpool fans for example the average age has got to have been thirty up to 45-50 years of age, there were handicapped children there, all sorts and there was no disparity in the way they were treated, they were basically just shoved from pillar to post and if you are being treated like that you are already going to be a little frustrated and then if local fans start as well, then I think the English fans do get a bit of bad press especially when they are travelling on behalf of their domestic teams, I think you have a different breed of people when they travel for the national team”.
CALLER “There’s one other thing, like thirty Liverpool fans have been stabbed or slashed in Rome over the last two games they have played there, now if that was the other way around and that was at Anfield and you had Italians that had the same treatment what would have happened then?”
ROBIN “Well yes, I mean this is always an interesting subject, if we go back a couple of seasons ago to the incidences that happened, its very close to the people here in Leeds, Galatasaray and unfortunately two young men lost their lives through that, and one does question, or certainly I do question anyway how Galatasaray were allowed as an organisation to go on and actually win the cup that year when several seasons earlier Liverpool, in-fact English teams were barred from Europe for five years after the Heysel stadium disaster, so what are we saying here? Is it the number of people die that would give you the length of years that you are banned from football, and so does the Galatasaray thing imply, it was only two so we can allow them to go on and compete for the actual championship? there does seem to be some double standards there”.
CALLER “I went to the play off final on Sunday to watch Norwich lose, but the point is, both sets of supporters behaved perfectly, they were drinking together, chatting together, but that sort of side of the game is never shown. How well fans can behave”.
JAMIE “That’s what we are not disputing, most football fans, I don’t know what the percentage is, but you would guess at 98% of football fans are perfectly well behaved, fantastically well behaved, but what we are trying to say is that we still don#t want the 2% in the game associated with football”. We are talking about football violence, because I am a presenter and Robin works with it,and we all love football but we would rather not be talking about the violence in football wouldn’t we Robin?”
ROBIN “There’s been a number of programmes documenting football violence over the past couple of weeks and going back to something mentioned by the previous person that called in, pointing out this problem with the over-exacerbation of football violence and the fact that football violence precedes the England fans, well some of the programmes, like the Channel 4 documentary (Football Fight Club) do, if you were a foreigner in this country watching that on TV, you would assume that it happens day in and day out and that’s what we have to be cautious of. 98% of football fans are good people and really and truly, at any given game 50 to 100 people can ruin it for several thousand, tens of thousands of other people who want to just get away from the stadium and don’t want anything to do with disorder, but nonetheless it is something that does have to be addressed and is a topic of concern for many people”
FIRST PART OF DR. PETER MARSH INTERVIEW MISSING. WILL BE ADDED LATER
JAMIE “Current trends show that it’s (hooliganism) from all classes, it’s solicitors, bank managers”
Dr. Marsh “Yes, you do have them but frankly they do feature a lot less prominently than the press would have us believe, the number of bankers and solicitors getting arrested and locked up for public order offences or for crimes of violence is very small in proportion to the rest of them, it just makes rather better stories, I’m afraid. As you were suggesting the press have started to be a lot more responsible about this, well, you know, they’ve still got a long way to go ”
JAMIE “So who’s problem is it then, do you think it’s the football club’s problem, do you think it’s a police problem, do you think it’s a government problem or do you think it’s a sensationalist press problem?”
Dr. Marsh “I think it’s all of those as always and violence in society is not something that you’re going to tackle just by coming at it from one angle. I mean, one of the reasons why I think there has been an apparent decline, since the mid 80s, I suppose or even earlier, in football violence in this country, is that the police have largely got their act together in terms of crowd control, have introduced quite intelligent policing approaches and good segregation of fans and have actually reduced, at least, the more visible aspects of violence which used to plague the game certainly in the mid 70s when I started doing research on this area, the problem is that when now our fans travel outside of that environment whether it’s to Europe, or to Japan or to Tokyo meet with police forces who have very different agendas, very different strategies, then there one does have a recipe for rather more distressing violence”.
JAMIE ” You say that the less visible violence is there, but that was contained violence, that’s violence you can contain, when it was within a stadium you could see it, you could deal with it, they couldn’t get out, they can’t get out. But what we’re doing is, it’s like we’re sweeping the problem under the carpet and we’re saying, ok, if it’s going to happen, do it half a mile down the road, it doesn’t stop it happening, it doesn’t stop, you know, if you walk the wrong way you can get caught up in this!”
Dr. Marsh “Yes, there still are those problems to be faced, but again when one looks at the actual amount of violence there is associated with football, given the number of people who go there, and who are likely to come into conflict with each other, now not so much in the stadiums, but in the surrounding streets or in the pubs nearby or what have you, and if you actually do some frequency counts on the number of arrests, and so on, the number of injuries, then the problem has to be seen in the context of levels of violence generally in our society, and a number of bits of research that have been done have suggested it’s not that much higher than one would expect, the problem is that it’s visible we have this tendency in our society to try and identify particular kinds of Demons that we hold up responsible for all society’s ills , and football fans unfortunately fall conveniently in to that category. Yes we should be concerned, but I also think we should keep some perspective on this, particularly if we are looking at ways, more positive ways of tackling these things”
JAMIE “Well thank you for joining us…….Is there a solution?
Dr. Marsh “If you’re asking me, is there a solution to violence in society……..
JAMIE “Violence in football predominantly, I know there’s violence in society….
Dr. Marsh “Well, again if you have violence in society, and then suddenly somehow, big arenas like football we expect those simply to be missed out of the catalogue of places where violence is committed, then I think it’s unlikely.
JAMIE “Robin Manser, you listened to some of the things Dr. Marsh had to say there. You seemed to be getting a little angry about some of the things he had to say!”
ROBIN “I think one of the problems here is, one of my pet hates is stereotyping and generalisation, and it is largely what I got this funding from FIFA to look at, and Peter, he’s a very well known fellow, there’s no way I am going to have a go at him for his academic standing but, I do think there is an issue that when you start researching something like this in its hay day, in the 70s, there s sometimes a tendency to get caught up in that and not perceive change as it happens. The one bit I did agree with is at the end there, I do think that if we put it in the grad scheme of things, if we took the arrests on Friday and Saturday nights in pubs and clubs around Leeds, there would be far more arrests and injuries than there would be with anything associated directly with football, and i think we have to be very, very clear on that. I think the point he made about sociologists would be doing research, PhD’s in passivity rather than anything else, I think, what we are talking about here is violence or hooliganism, forget the word ‘football’ for a minute, but hooliganism is a part of society, it’s always there, there’s no country that’s free of , I’m absolutely sure of that, and the arena of football obviously attracts large groups of people, and we’ve known from the past that groups like Combat 18, the BNP, Fascist movements and Neo-Nazis have had this fantastic facility where for all intents and purposes you have got the population of a town in a building with all the elements that go with it. The negative characteristics, the positive characteristics and we should not forget that. Somewhere during the football season, every Saturday somewhere around the best part of a million people are at a football match, let alone those that are listening on the radio, watching it on TV in the pub and so on. I think the pet hate of mine, is the phrase ‘largely young men’ and ‘working-class'”.
JAMIE and ADAM “Yes”.
ROBIN “I think we really have to talk seriously about this, and I want people to know that my research has suggested, without a doubt, and that was mainly Manchester United and Leeds United ‘hands up’, but, that’s a huge amount of people that attend those matches and I have to say that from a disorder point of view, they are more likely to be out of that category. Evidence has suggested to me, middle-management, and somewhere between the ages of 28-40/50 years of age. So I think we have to be very careful about that. ‘The English don’t travel very well’. Alright, well that’s like saying, the Germans always nick your towel on the beech. I think we have to be very cautious with that, and I think the English culture has generally changed and moved with the times over the past 20 years. I just think that we have to be very cautious that there are two schools of thought on this. There’s people like myself who are probably slightly more modern on this. Sociology has taken a different perspective over the years and I prefer to call myself a behavioral scientist, because I think you apply the theory according to what you are observing, rather than going in there, already loaded and ready.