There are several theories regarding the origin of the word hooliganism, which is a derivative of the word hooligan. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary states that the word may have originated from the surname of a rowdy Irish family in a music hall song of the 1890s. Clarence Rook, in his 1899 book, Hooligan Nights, wrote that the word came from Patrick Hoolihan (or Hooligan), an Irish bouncer and thief who lived in London. In 2015, it was said in the BBC Scotland TV programme The Secret Life of Midges that the English commander-in-chief during the Jacobite rising of 1745, General Wade, misheard the local Scots Gaelic word for midge—meanbh-chuileag—and coined the word hooligan to describe his fury and frustration at the way the tiny biting creatures made the life of his soldiers and himself a misery; this derivation may be apocryphal.
In August 1898 the murder of Henry Mappin in Lambeth committed by a member of the gang drew further attention to the word which was immediately popularised by the press. The London newspaper The Daily Graphic wrote in an article on 22 August 1898, "The avalanche of brutality which, under the name of 'Hooliganism' ... has cast such a dire slur on the social records of South London."
The inquest was carried out by Mr Braxton Hicks who "remarked that the activity of the gang he referred to was not confined to Lambeth, but extended to numerous other districts. It was composed of young fellows who scorned to do a stroke of work, and obtained a living by blackmailing. It was a common practice for three or four of these men to walk into a shop and offer the shopman the alternative of giving them a dollar for drink or having his shop wrecked. In connection with the Oakley-street tragedy intimidation had reached an unexampled case. Witnesses had been warned that it would be as much as their life was worth to give evidence against John Darcy. On Wednesday plain-clothes men escorted the witnesses from the court singly. He himself had been warned - not by anonymous letter but through a mysterious personal medium - that if seen in a certain neighbourhood he would be done for. A magistrate had also told him that he had been the recipient of a like indignity."
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in his 1904 short story "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons", "It seemed to be one of those senseless acts of Hooliganism which occur from time to time, and it was reported to the constable on the beat as such." H. G. Wells wrote in his 1909 semi-autobiographical novel Tono-Bungay, "Three energetic young men of the hooligan type, in neck-wraps and caps, were packing wooden cases with papered-up bottles, amidst much straw and confusion."
According to Life magazine (30 July 1941), the comic strip artist and political cartoonist Frederick Burr Opper introduced a character called Happy Hooligan in 1900; "hapless Happy appeared regularly in U.S. newspapers for more than 30 years", a "naive, skinny, baboon-faced tramp who invariably wore a tomato can for a hat." Life brought this up by way of criticizing the Soviet U.N. delegate Yakov A. Malik for misusing the word. Malik had indignantly referred to anti-Soviet demonstrators in New York as "hooligans". Happy Hooligan, Life reminded its readers, "became a national hero, not by making trouble, which Mr. Malik understands is the function of a hooligan, but by getting himself help."
Later, as the meaning of the word shifted slightly, none of the possible alternatives had precisely the same undertones of a person, usually young, who belongs to an informal group and commits acts of vandalism or criminal damage, starts fights, and who causes disturbances but is not a thief. Hooliganism is now predominately less related to sport.
Violence in sports
The words hooliganism and hooligan began to be associated with violence in sports, in particular from the 1970s in the UK with football hooliganism. The phenomenon, however, long preceded the modern term; for example, one of the earliest known instances of crowd violence at a sporting event took place in ancient Constantinople. Two chariot racing factions, the Blues and the Greens, were involved in the Nika riots which lasted around a week in 532 CE; nearly half the city was burned or destroyed, in addition to tens of thousands of deaths.
Sports crowd violence continues to be a worldwide concerning phenomenon exacting at times a large number of injuries, damage to property and casualties. No single account on its own can be used to understand or explain sports collective violence. Rather, individual, contextual, social and environmental factors interact and influence one another through a dynamic process occurring at different levels. Furthermore, any form of sport fan aggression should always be considered in reference to the wider social-structural and environmental context in which it takes place. Macro-sociological accounts suggest that structural strains, experiences of deprivation or a low socio-economic background can at times be instrumental to the acceptance and reproduction of norms that tolerate great levels of violence and territoriality, which is a common feature of football hooliganism. Furthermore, social cleavages within societies facilitate the development of strong in-groups bonds and intense feelings of antagonism towards outsiders which in turn can facilitate group identification and affect the likelihood of fan violence.
- On 4 June 1974, Ten Cent Beer Night occurred at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. Intoxicated Cleveland hooligans jumped onto the field and attacked Texas Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs with the score tied 5–5 in the ninth inning. This led to a riot in which the drunken and rowdy hooligans—armed with an array of debris including chunks of the stadium seating—brawled with players from both teams as well as with staff members. The umpires forfeited the game to Texas.
- On 12 July 1979, Disco Demolition Night occurred at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. At the climax of the event, a crate filled with disco records was blown up on the field between games of the doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Many of those in attendance had come to see the explosion rather than the games and thus hooligans rushed onto the field after the detonation. The playing field was damaged both by the explosion and by the rowdy fans to the point where the White Sox were required to forfeit the second game of the doubleheader to the Tigers.
- On 14 October 1984, serious disturbances took place in Detroit following the Detroit Tigers' victory over the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series. One person died, eighty were injured and eight rapes were reported. Millions of dollars in property damage were reported.
- On 10 August 1995, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave out baseballs to paying customers as they entered the Dodger Stadium gates for a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. However, hooligans interrupted the game in the seventh inning when they threw these baseballs onto the field. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Cardinals were leading the game 2–1. The first batter, Raúl Mondesí, was called out on strikes and then ejected by home plate umpire Jim Quick for arguing, as was Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda moments later. Dodger hooligans, fueled by a series of close calls and a few rounds of alcohol, again threw their souvenir baseballs onto the field. The Cardinals left the field due to safety concerns and the field was cleaned up so play could resume. However, when the Cardinals returned to the field, at least one ball sailed out of the center field bleachers and the umpires immediately forfeited the game to St. Louis.
- In a 2001 NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, hooligans protested a questionable call by the referees by throwing plastic beer bottles onto the field. The game would end prematurely, though the NFL ruled the last minute had to be played out.
- In September 2002, in an MLB game between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field in Chicago, Royals first base coach, Tom Gamboa was attacked by two drunk White Sox hooligans, who were father and son.
- In a 2004 NBA game, the Pacers–Pistons brawl occurred. With less than a minute left in the game, a fight broke out between players on the court. After the fight was broken up, a fan threw a drink from the stands at Pacers player Ron Artest while he was lying on the scorer's table. Artest then entered the crowd and sparked a brawl between players and fans. Hooligans had entered the court and threw drinks and food at the Pacers.
- On 5 October 2012, in the Wild Card playoff game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves in Atlanta, after a questionable call on an infield fly rule on a hit by Brave Andrelton Simmons, hooligans protested the call by throwing several drinks and trash onto the field. The game had to be delayed by 19 minutes.
- On 21 November 2015, after an NCAA Football game between the Northwestern Wildcats and Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, several hooligans threw snowballs at the referees as they were leaving the field. This was in protest over a few questionable calls which negated Badger touchdowns.
- On 9 January 2016, in an NFL playoff game between rivals Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was being carted off with a shoulder injury. Cincinnati hooligans repeatedly pelted him with beer and garbage.
- In January 2017, an NCAA Division II basketball game between Lane College and LeMoyne-Owen College descended into a full-scale donnybrook. During the brawl a hooligan had entered the court and took a folding chair and struck a Lane player.
- On 12 October 2017, in an NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina, a 26-year-old Panthers hooligan (Kyle Adam Maraghy) repeatedly punched a 62-year-old fan in the face and head following an argument; Maraghy and his girlfriend, Leigh Anne Nasri, had stood throughout the game, obstructing the view of the victim.
- On 4 November 2017, in an NCAA football game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, a Hurricanes hooligan, Bridget Frietas, was ejected from the game for cursing and hitting other people. She also had slapped a cop who was ejecting her.
- On 12 November 2017, in an NFL game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco, a Giants hooligan, Patrick Flynn, started a disturbance that led to him getting ejected from the game. As a result, Flynn is now facing charges of battery on a police officer causing injury and resisting arrest, both of which are felonies, as well as two misdemeanor counts of battery on a police officer, according to arrest records from the Santa Clara Police Department.
- On 25 November 2017, in an NCAA football game between the Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina, South Carolina hooligans repeatedly threw bottles and trash at the Clemson players before and during the game.
- On 10 December 2017, in an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Florida, Jaguar hooligans threw trash at the visiting Seahawk players. Seahawk player Quinton Jefferson had to be restrained from climbing into the stands and confronting the hooligans.
- In the aftermath of Super Bowl LII, after the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl, there were several incidents in Philadelphia of hooliganism in the streets, including at City Hall.
- On 27 September 2018, in an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, a brawl broke out between hooligans of both teams, which included a Rams hooligan being thrown a couple of rows down.
- On 21 November 2018, in after an NHL game between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers, an Islander hooligan slashed a Ranger fan outside the arena. A Rangers fan had said that several fights broke out between hooligans of the teams.
- On 2 December 2018, during an NFL game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Steeler hooligans fought with one another. One hooligan headbutted the other and they threw punches at one another.
- On 6 February 2019, during the New England Patriots parade after winning Super Bowl LIII in Boston, a brawl broke out between several Patriot hooligans. Several punches and kicks occurred during the brawl.
In the Soviet Union and Russia
In the Soviet Union the word khuligan was used to refer to scofflaws. Hooliganism (Russian: хулиганство, khuliganstvo) was listed as a criminal offense, similar to disorderly conduct in some other jurisdictions, and used as a catch-all charge for prosecuting unapproved behavior. Hooliganism is defined generally in the Criminal Code of Russia as an average gravity crime.
Olympic medalist Vasiliy Khmelevskiy was convicted of hooliganism for setting a costumed person on fire during a celebration in Minsk in 1979 and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Mathias Rust was convicted of hooliganism, among other things, for his 1987 Cessna landing on Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge next to Red Square. More recently, the same charge has been leveled against members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot for which three members each received a two-year sentence on 17 August 2012. Hooliganism charges were also levelled against the Greenpeace protesters in October 2013.
- A Clockwork Orange (1971)
- The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
- Awaydays (2009)
- Cass (2008)
- Eden Lake (2008)
- EuroTrip (2004)
- The Firm (1988)
- The Firm (2009)
- The Football Factory (2004)
- Green Street (2005)
- Green Street 2: Stand Your Ground (2009)
- Green Street 3: Never Back Down (2013)
- I.D. (1995)
- Neds (2010)
- Rise of the Footsoldier (2007)
- Tash Force (2011)
- Training Day (2001)