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Football’s Dark Side

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Contributor:
Adrian Musolino
Adrian Musolino
Preparing for a showdown.

Twenty years ago on the 15th of April 96 fans were killed in a crush at the FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, the Hillsborough disaster. It was one of football’s greatest tragedies and set English football on a path of reawakening.

Only four years after another stadium tragedy that involved Liverpool, the Heysel tragedy, Hillsborough was a further indictment of the British game. 

While hooligan violence didn’t contribute directly to the Hillsborough tragedy, it was during this period that British football descended into chaos. 

In response to hooligan behaviour fans were locked into stadiums like caged animals and without adequate seating tragedies such as Hillsborough were a natural consequence. 

In the aftermath of the disaster, English football was forced into modernity through the Taylor report, a much-needed kick up the backside that undoubtedly contributed to the golden period it enjoys today. 

But a question often asked that deserves further investigation is why football, more so than other sports, has been involved in such tragedies, whether it be stadium tragedies, hooliganism, racism and cheating.

Some blame the game itself, that it encourages and attracts such mindless behaviour. The image of hooligans running wild is a stereotype that has stuck. 

But instead it is the global popularity of the world game that acts as a vehicle for such dark forces. 

Football is an outlet for the disenfranchised, an escape from everyday life and, let’s be honest, a vehicle for the idiots who use the territorial and tribalism of the game as a vehicle for their prejudices or wayward beliefs. 

Again this has nothing specifically to do with football. As the world game its following from the lower levels to national teams is so widespread it is bound to attract fans whose motivations and behaviour can be questioned. 

There are still many aspects of the beautiful game that are very ugly but significant progress has been made in twenty years especially for fans at the ground.

It’s important to stop and remember Hillsborough and the lives lost. 

Football should be about enjoyment and togetherness not tragedy.
 

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