Britain Soccer Europa League
Manchester United fans observe a minutes silence following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, ahead of the group E Europa League soccer match between Manchester United and Real Sociedad at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

Fan misbehavior on rise in English soccer, government says


The number of field invasions in soccer matches in England and Wales last season soared by 127% compared to the last full campaign before the coronavirus pandemic, according to government statistics released Thursday.

The data provided by the Home Office — a government department responsible for law and order — highlighted the growth in anti-social behavior at matches, which soccer authorities are attempting to combat.

On Wednesday, the Premier League announced that fans who run onto the field at matches, or use objects like smoke bombs and pyrotechnics, will receive automatic bans from clubs for a minimum of a year.

According to the government statistics, there were 441 matches where field invasions were reported last season — more than double the number in the 2018-19 season.

Soccer-related arrests were up by 59% to 2,198. That is the highest number since 2,273 were made in the 2013-14 season.

Incidents of disorder were reported at 1,609 of the 3,019 matches last season — equating to 53% — compared to 1,007 matches in 2018-19. There were 384 matches where a hate-crime incident was reported, an increase of 99%.

Authorities issued 516 new soccer banning orders in the 2021-22 season, with 1,308 in force at the end of the season.

“Disorder is a problem that has not gone away,” said Mark Roberts, the head of British soccer policing, “and throughout the whole of last season, we saw an increase in crime at football matches across the country — from the Premier League right down to the (fifth-tier) National League.”

Roberts said drug use and alcohol are key factors behind disorderly behavior and noted that the government is adding Class A drug offenses to the banning order legislation.

The Home Office has moved to ensure the women’s domestic game is covered by the banning orders.

Among the incidents of disorder from last season, Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp was headbutted in the face by a Nottingham Forest fan at the end of a playoff game in the second division, leading to the fan getting a 24-week prison sentence.

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira kicked out at an Everton fan who was taunting him during a field invasion at Goodison Park. A Manchester City fan who ran onto the field and taunted Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen on the final day of the season at Etihad Stadium got a four-year banning order.

Speaking while on England duty this week, Tottenham defender Eric Dier said he believes fan behavior has gotten worse.

“My family would never go to an away game nowadays because of it, and that’s a shame that I feel too uncomfortable for them to go to away games,” said Dier, who was involved in a confrontation with a supporter following Tottenham’s loss to Norwich in an FA Cup match in March 2020.

Dier climbed into the stands after the fan argued with the defender’s brother. Dier received a four-match ban by the Football Association and was handed a fine.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said his family and friends have been discouraged from going to games because of the kind of crowd chaos seen at the European Championship final at Wembley Stadium last year and the Champions League final outside Paris this year.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I'm hoping the absolute worst for the whole "bought and paid for" tournament and the Qatari hosts. Come on hooligans...Do your best! And to balance it out a few LGBTQ protests during the matches.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I just hope the English - and ALL - Soccer fans behave themselves in Qatar. Lets all hope they dont get on the beers there (a handful of hotels will apparently serve alcohol) and racially taunt or attack other fans - as they did to the poor Italians last year in Wembley where several were chased and set upon by furious Three-Lions fans after their team's loss. I'm not sure how patient the Qatari police will be with drunken hooliganism. I doubt they would stand by and let them run amok like the English security last year inside Wembley.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )


Soccer is an American term so I highly doubt it originated in Europe.

Though Soccer is a popular name for the sport in the US it actually originated in the UK.

Association football was shortened to "assoccer" as Rugby football was shortened to "rugger".

From assoccer it became soccer.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Soccer is an American term so I highly doubt it originated in Europe.

football hooliganism on the other hand has evidence tracing it back to the 14th century so it’s hardly a modern problem. It’s very nature is extremely territorial , especially if you actually read up on how different villages and towns would square off against each other. Add a dash of alcohol to that and tempers will flare and decorum be dammed.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

That is not a new phenomenon. Soccer has always attracted violent and racists fans. I would say more so than any other sport because of its large international appeal and popularity.

Did not the term "soccer hooligan" begin in Europe (UK)?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

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