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Football fans in crisis: Game day behaviour highlighting problems in society

The 2024/25 season has certainly been an exciting one on the pitch, but off it there’s a growing concern that football might be getting just a little bit too feral.

While the community and tribalism of football is what makes the beautiful game so beautiful, there is also a line and if unfortunately feels like this line is being crossed far too frequently.

Just over a month ago three people were arrested as Brighton beat Marseille, while that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the scenes that have been blighting English football for a couple of years now.

Most recently, a man was charged after invading the pitch to confront a referee during Port Vale’s game against Portsmouth, while every week there are videos going round on socialmedia of fans abusing fans, often in the most horrific fashion, whether that be racism, sexism or even mocking footballing tragedies.

We say VAR has a lot to answer for. But we could also say the same about drugs and alcohol.

Across the country, there’s an increasing problem with drugs and alcohol in society, with deaths as a result having risen sharply since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s a similar scenario with how many people are drinking heavily during the week, with more and more people now seeking out alcohol rehab UK wide. While that figure is much lower than two decades ago, the way in which it is rising is perhaps a root of the problem.

Football has always had a bad reputation for behaviour, you don’t need us to tell you that, but sitting on the terraces it often feels like that it’s regressing rather than progressing, during a time where we should be championing diversity in football and ensuring it is welcoming for all.

However, that’s proving not to be the case in some quarters, and while it’s a minority of people you only have to look at the headlines and social media to see that it is tarnishing the game, potentially putting off future generations from wanting to visit the Amex, Hillsbrough, Old Trafford or any other ground across the country.

Perhaps what is most telling though is that it’s something we’ve seen before. The 1980s and early 1990s saw much more significant trouble across football, during a time where there was political unrest and communities being ripped apart by the Conservative government. Ring any bells?

It was a time where living was expensive, tough and many people felt like the hierarchy were against them. So, they turned to alcohol, drugs and frustrations came out on matchdays where it was once again a situation of them versus us.

We’re at a dangerous point in football, where violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour is becoming more and more prominent. In many cases it’s simply being classed as banter or laddish behaviour, in others it is being taken more seriously. Is there a fix? That’s perhaps not for football itself to decide, but the powers that be as people struggle to get through their day-to-day and take it out at the football on a Saturday.

Welcome to football in ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶1̶9̶8̶0̶s̶ 2024.

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