OPINION

An unhealthy passion

We call them savages, hooligans and ignoramuses. We pigeonhole them in our minds in a place far removed from our everyday lives. But hooligans are not all children of broken or poverty-stricken homes. Often educated, with government jobs, they might even be scientists and tradesmen, according to a study by the British Home Office released earlier this week. Two older Greek university studies had reached more or less the same conclusions. Namely, that the average Greek soccer hooligan has grown up in a large city, has had a medium-level education and is financially independent. The only thing that distinguishes him from his peers is an unhealthy passion for his soccer team, which he rates above family, friends, work, even country… Nevertheless, when violence happens to break out – generally shortly before kickoff – the hooligans cannot be said to be entirely responsible. They share the blame with corrupt club owners and officials who have commercialized sport, the players who have adopted a «star» mentality, the police who sometimes aggravate the violence, and the rest of us for our indifference… Research shows that hooligans often have boring or oppressive jobs and only feel they are worth something within a supporters’ club. And when they are in the stands, the sense of anonymity allows them to run amok in the knowledge that they are unlikely to face heavy penalties…