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Rioting by fans during a game (Leipzig 1990)

As a hooligan ( English. "Rowdy", "Rabauke") a person is referred to in German usage, who is particularly conspicuous in the context of certain major events, such as football games , through aggressive behavior and violence . The Duden , which took up the term in 1991, defines hooligan as "mostly young people appearing in a group whose behavior is characterized by rioting and violent attacks at public events (e.g. football games)". The acronym hool is also used, especially in jargon, as well as hooliganism for the entirety of the phenomenon (" hooliganism ").


The term “hooligans” is usually used to describe young men who fight in groups around football matches or other major events with rival groups or with security forces such as the police. These can arise spontaneously when the groups meet, but sometimes also take place in an organized manner at agreed locations. They are often associated with massive forms of vandalism as well as violence against uninvolved third parties. The participants themselves emphasize the thrill and see their behavior as a “competition among tough men” (Eckert, Steinmetz & Wetzstein, 2001). In addition, the special experience in the group, the feeling of togetherness, mutual recognition and experience of power play a role. Historically, violent riots among spectators of competitions have taken place since the Middle Ages. They existed in organized football from the very beginning of its history (Dunning, 1999; Frosdick & Marsh, 2005). Occasionally violent riots in the audience also occur in other sports such as ice hockey , rugby , cricket or American football (Frosdick & Marsh, 2005), but most often in the context of the cultural phenomenon “soccer”.

The hooligan movement originated in England and has spread quickly. In the 1950s and 1960s, this hooliganism was also widespread in Great Britain at dance events in major cities. The first cases of rampaging hooligans go back to the end of the 19th century. In football fan culture, hooligans are to be distinguished from “normal” fans , “frocks” and ultras , because they “cultivate” violence. As an intermediate form, Gunter A. Pilz coined the term Hooltras . However, the term is rejected in the fan scene.


Hooligan or O'Hooligan is an Irish surname ( Irish Ó hUallacháin , "descendant of Uallachán", diminutive to uallach "moody, irritable, proud, vain"). It is unclear how the name became the name for hooligans. Often mentioned is a fictional Irish family named O'Hoolihan, who was mentioned in a song in the British Music Halls at the end of the 19th century due to their violence and appeared as a character in cartoons . In 1898 a London police report named an Irishman named Patrick Hoolihan (or Hooligan) nicknamed "Hooley" as a rioter and leader of a youth gang (O'Hooligan Boys) in the London borough of Lambeth .

In addition to these variants, an Eastern ( Slavic ) origin also seems possible, as the term was also used in Russia around 1900 . It was not until the 1970s that the term was first used in England, and since the mid-1980s also in Germany, in the context of fan culture in football, while previously it generally stood for street crime and hooliganism.

The term was also common in the USA ; so was z. B. a gang of Italian-Americans in Ocean Hill, a neighborhood in Brownsville, New York , known as Ocean Hill Hooligans in the 1930s . In the German language, the word "Hooligan" is said to have been used for the first time in 1906 by Arthur Pfungst .

In the Hungarian language , huligán (as a noun as well as an adjective ) is used as a general, derogatory term for (mostly young, male) people who do not behave according to social norms.

Social structure and organization

The phenomenon of hooliganism was first examined in terms of social structure , according to which young people from lower social classes orientate themselves earlier and more strongly to groups of the same age. Accordingly, due to the increased pressure, they tended to aggressively assert themselves and to separate themselves collectively from other groups. For young people whose family ties are weak or disrupted, joining a football fan group is an option to form a collective identity (Bohnsack, 1997; Dunnig, 1999; Pilz, 1996). Findings from empirical studies only partially confirm this; there were indeed indications of difficult milieus (Armstrong 1998, Böttger 1998, Dunning 2000), but other studies also found recruitment from all social classes (Pilz, 1995; Valk, 1995).

Since the late 1970s there has been a reorientation of this subculture due to the economic boom in Great Britain . In London and Liverpool, for example, the so-called casuals were formed , which are characterized by rather high-priced clothing and the lack of fan accessories such as fan scarves and thus still have a formative effect on the scene today. These differ from the skinhead movement and show a need for media presence. Organizationally, they formed so-called firms or crews , in which about 150 members belonged to the core and another 500 are interpreted as followers. The headhunters , supporters of Chelsea FC , and the Inter City Firm , supporters of West Ham United, were among the best known in the media . According to scientific assessments, however, there is no strict hierarchy, rather it is based on experience and social position through "combat experience".

Hooligans and right-wing extremism

In the British hooligan scene, contacts with the National Front were particularly observed in the 1980s (Harnischmacher, 2006). Other studies tend to deny political motives (Lösel et al., 2001), especially since hooligans fear increased control pressure from the police and thus can carry out their activities undisturbed. In some cases, such collaborations are strictly rejected. However, communities of convenience are formed with right-wing extremist skins and other neo-Nazi groups.

In Russia , hooligans dominated by right-wing extremist ideas are not fought by the state because they are loyal to the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin personally made fun of the British hooligans who were attacked by outnumbered Russian hooligans in 2016.

In Germany in Saxony-Anhalt in 2008, a right-wing extremist hooligan thugs, the Blue White Street Elite , was banned by the Ministry of the Interior for the first time . The group sued the ban. After referral back by the Federal Constitutional Court in the appeal proceedings, the ban was lifted in the second legal process by the Higher Administrative Court of Saxony-Anhalt in 2010. The OVG came to the conclusion that the group is not an association within the meaning of the Association Act and that the ban is therefore illegal (Az. 3 K 380/10).

After the riots organized by the " HoGeSa " ("Hooligans against Salafists") in Cologne on October 26, 2014, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution announced that it would investigate the extent to which hooligans are being instrumentalized by extremist groups. According to the former President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Maaßen , the hooligans , who are fixated on violence and alcohol consumption, are for the most part politically disinterested and have not yet been monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Violence and fan researchers such as Gunter Pilz or Robert Claus , on the other hand, see a clear connection between hooliganism and right-wing extremism. Both were fed by an affinity for violence and social Darwinism . When the “law of the thumb prevails, the law of the strongest”, other people are very close to derogatory, nationalistic thoughts. Pilz sees the new hooligan scene as being “clearly right-wing” and, after the riots in Chemnitz in 2018, sees “a renaissance of hooliganism on the far-right wing.” As recently as the 1980s, only a few hooligans could be assigned to the right-wing spectrum. Today the groups are "extremely well organized and networked" and can "prepare themselves in terms of staff and react extremely quickly." There are threatening connections with the bouncer and the martial arts scene, and the scene is "strongly determined by Russian hooligans who organize the martial arts events." "So the" Kaotic Chemnitz "involved in the riots emerged similarly to the so-called Nazi boys from the environment of" Hooligans-Nazis-Racists "for short, HooNaRa and" was an attempt to return to the football public with a politically less burnt name . ”There are similar groups with a clear right-wing extremist tendency in other cities, such as Dresden with the fist of the east .

Prevention and prosecution in Germany

The police operating in Germany with spotters in civil, increasingly observed on days with particularly violent persons or with reporting requirements impose. A variety of measures are used to prevent violence , through which hooligans and normal viewers can be better identified and monitored. The hooligans are sometimes used to justify the need for new security measures, such as B. video surveillance in cities on the occasion of the 2006 soccer World Cup.

In 1992 the Central Information Center for Sports Operations (ZIS) was established at the State Criminal Police Office in Düsseldorf . The ZIS registers and observes violent soccer criminals nationwide within the framework of the file and is in contact with other countries via international data exchange in order to prevent hooligans from entering stadiums.

Before the 2006 World Cup , particularly serious riots were feared, but most of them did not materialize. However, several hundred people were arrested when hooligans from Germany , England and Croatia met in several German cities (especially Dortmund , Stuttgart , Frankfurt am Main ). The biggest riots occurred on the sidelines of the game between Germany and Poland . In the course of this, 429 people were arrested in downtown Dortmund. During the European Football Championship in 2008 , around 150 hooligans were arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace and only released the next morning before the German national team's first game (again against Poland) . In the course of the games Croatia against Turkey and the Netherlands against Russia , there were inner-city clashes between the respective fan groups, which also led to arrests.

Particularly from the ultra- violent community , the police's actions are often criticized as repressive and disproportionate, and a lack of distinction between hooligans, ultra-violinists and “normal” football fans is criticized. Police, municipalities and associations, on the other hand, criticize the fact that the ultras do not sufficiently participate in the identification of perpetrators and that provocations and a lack of cooperation make the work of the police more difficult. A common battle cry of the Ultras is all cops are bastards ( ACAB ).

Most hooligan groups now only rarely hold their encounters on certain match days, but more and more often at forest-and-meadow meetings away from the encounters. For this purpose, various groups arrange and meet for the self-staged “ third half ” in quiet and deserted places, in forests, in fields or in industrial areas. This deviant behavior usually leads to investigations and convictions for breach of the peace and dangerous bodily harm .

According to a confirmation of the judgment of the Dresden Regional Court by the Federal Court of Justice in 2015, hooligan groups can be classified as a criminal organization in court . Negotiations were held against members of the former hooligans Elbflorenz from Dresden. The verdict said: "Because the group of the accused was also geared towards the exercise of assault in the context of brawls, their purpose and activity was therefore to commit criminal (dangerous) bodily harm." These are also voluntary and planned Clashes between hostile hooligan groups is immoral and punishable .

Reporting of individual cases

Adrian Maleika was a fan of Werder Bremen and the first person to be killed in attacks by hooligans in Germany. At the DFB Cup match between the Hamburger Sportverein and Werder Bremen on October 16, 1982 in Hamburg, an incident occurred when members of the Hamburg fan group Die Löwen ambushed a group of Werder fans and attacked them. A stone hit 16-year-old Adrian Maleika in the head, and the attackers then kicked the boy who was lying on the ground. Maleika was rushed to the hospital, but died the following day from the severe head injury. Probably the best-known victim of rampaging football hooligans in Germany is the French gendarme Daniel Nivel . On June 21, 1998, after the game between Germany and Yugoslavia in the 1998 soccer World Cup , street battles broke out between German hooligans and the police in Lens, northern France . Nivel suffered severe head injuries at the time, fell into a coma for six weeks and has been severely disabled ever since. The pictures and videos of the beatings went around the world.


  • Robert Braun, Rens Vliegenthart: The Contentious Fans. The Impact of Repression, Media Coverage, Grievances and Aggressive Play on Supporters' Violence. In: International Sociology. Vol. 23, H. 6, 2008, ISSN  0268-5809 , pp. 796-818.
  • Marius Breucker: Transnational Police Violence Prevention - Measures against Traveling Hooligans. Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg 2003, ISBN 3-89913-275-0 .
  • Bill Buford: Horny for violence. Carl Hanser, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-446-17160-6 .
  • Klaus Farin: The third half. Thomas Tilsner Verlag, Bad Tölz 2002, ISBN 3-910079-49-0 .
  • Martin King: Hoolifan. Trolsen Communicate, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-9809064-0-X .
  • Thomas Schneider among others: Football rioting: Hooligans in Germany. Klartext-Verlag, Essen 1998, ISBN 3-88474-448-8 .
  • Alexander Hoh: In small groups without chants. Trolsen Communicate, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-9812649-2-0 .
  • Cass Pennant: Congratulations - You have just met the ICF (West Ham United) - The history of the West Ham Intercity Firm. Trolsen communicate, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-9809064-2-6 .
  • Daniel Ryser: Feld Wald Wiese - Hooligans in Zurich. Realtime, Zurich 2010, ISBN 978-3-905800-28-9 .
  • Michael Pettau: On the field: A hooligan novel. Trolsen Communicate, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-9814019-1-2 .
  • Ralf Heck: Between own goal and uprising. Ultras in the current revolts. In: Kosmoprolet. 4, Berlin 2015, pp. 163–170.
  • Philipp Winkler : Hool . Construction Verlag, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-351-03645-4 .


Web links

Commons : Hooliganism  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Hooligan  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Hooligan in duden.de, accessed on October 28, 2014.
  2. ^ Hooliganism in duden.de, accessed on October 28, 2014.
  3. Thomas Bliesener : Hooliganism. In: Discrimination and Tolerance - Psychological Basics and Application Perspectives. Springer 2009, p. 319f. online in google books
  4. Bernd Strauss (Ed.), Gunter A. Pilz: Sports viewer. Hogrefe 2012, p. 217.
  5. ^ Ronny Blaschke: Ultras, Hooligans, Hooltras? , Spiegel Online from June 21, 2007, accessed on August 30, 2018.
  6. hooligan , Oxford dictionaries, accessed November 6, 2014.
  7. hooligan , Michael Quinion in World Wide Words , accessed November 7, 2014.
  8. Thomas König: Fan Culture. A sociological study using the example of the football fan. LIT Verlag Münster 2002, p. 69 online in Google books
  9. A magyar nyelv értelmező szótára. Arcanum, accessed March 27, 2019 (Hungarian).
  10. Thomas Bliesener: Hooliganism. In: Discrimination and Tolerance - Psychological Basics and Application Perspectives. Springer 2009, p. 325.
  11. Thomas König: Fan Culture. A sociological study using the example of the football fan. LIT Verlag Münster 2002, p. 72.
  12. Thomas Bliesener: Hooliganism. In: Discrimination and Tolerance - Psychological Basics and Application Perspectives. Springer 2009, p. 323.
  13. ↑ A steady drop against violence , WOZ Die Wochenzeitung, June 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Blue White Street Elite": Ban on right-wing hooligan groups in Saxony-Anhalt lifted. ( Memento from October 23, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) In: stern.de . October 21, 2010.
  15. Actions of the hooligans call for the protection of the Constitution on the plan. AFP of October 28, 2014.
  16. Interview: Christian Spiller "Hooligans see themselves as executors of the popular will" ; Zeit Online from August 28, 2018.
  17. Thomas Dudek: fight, sport, scene ; Spiegel Online from August 27, 2018.
  18. ^ Researcher: Chemnitz chaots clearly on the right
  19. Who are the "Kaotic" hooligans? , detektor.fm from August 27, 2018.
  20. BGH judgment: Hooligan group can be a criminal organization , Spiegel Online from January 22, 2014.