Subcultures of Football Fans and Violent Hostilities
FCDEF University of Coimbra Coimbra, Portugal
The violence that was manifested in Portuguese sport, particularly in football matches, suggests an increase in tension at matches, arising not only from intensified rivalry, but also from increased distrust in the fairness assured at championships. The growing distrust, together with the dynamics of surveillance and supervision launched in the 1990s, have contributed to the activation of mechanical solidarities within groups with shared interests, in a context of opposition/confrontation or radicalization. This has been propitious to manifestations of collective violent revolt, and to the institution of forms of premeditated violence between some groups of ultra fans.
In the 1990s, there was an intensification of fan violence, led by some "claques" of ultras, particularly evident amongst supporters of teams competing in the Premier League. Some of these "claques" seem to have taken on the role of guardians of their respective clubs, pledging to defend it to the end. This attitude is therefore one of great hostility towards rival groups, a hostility which is stirred up by the groups' leaders' and transmitted by the media. However, the development of events suggests that violent hostilities between some "claques" are independent of the development of championships.
In the development of violent hostilities between some "claques", there has been an intensification in the forms of violence used, which in some cases have been extremely brutal with tragic consequences. The association of traditional stereotypical masculine values with the ultra mentality of the loyal militant fan will have created the conditions for an increase of violence within some "claques"; thus the brawls that occur have become a leitmotif for the autonomous reproduction of violent rivalries in actions activated by mechanical solidarities. This reality has also been noted in other societies, whether involving the ultra subculture or the hooligan one, in its casual version, as we also studied during the UEFA Euro 2004.