I clash, therefore I am

It was only a matter of time before a life was lost in a clash between hooligans. Sadly, it usually takes a death for the government and media to mobilize over a crucial issue. The police ought to have known in advance about the Paeania brawl. But even if they had no warning, the sight of hundreds of bikers riding in near-military formation should have rung warning bells. What is more important, however, is the social aspect of the issue. This is not about rival fans fighting over their teams. Maybe that’s how the whole thing started. For hooligans, the symbol of their club is their flag – and the match itself is but a pretext for fighting. Violence is an end in itself, not the consequence of a game gone wrong. For some people with low aspirations and/or low incomes, fights are a way to feel real. As for the ringleaders, fighting provides a way to reaffirm their role. Club owners are responsible for feeding the monster, by giving it an identity and providing cover for fan clubs. They liked the idea of having a private army, but the armies soon got out of control. Even when they pledged loyalty to the «boss,» they never really operated as an extension of their leadership. They developed their own autonomous activities. Most fan clubs are more than a means of socialization for youth looking for meaning in life. Many have became hubs of illegal activity, including drug dealing and recruitment of thugs. The state is looking for ways to keep hooligans out of stadiums. Even if it succeeds, the problem will remain, for violence has already shifted outside sports venues. The pretext for the Paeania brawl was an unimportant game. It was a meeting prearranged specifically for a fight. Policing sports events is very important but the hooligan problem will only be resolved through a crackdown on fan organizations. Some innocent ones may pay along with the guilty, but this seems to be the price that society has to pay.

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