Hooliganism Is Ever Present In The US

Jeff HarbertSenior Writer IJuly 21, 2008

It appears that hooliganism is everywhere when it comes to soccer, even within the borders of the United States. Few incidents of fan trouble can be noted in the US, but you can now add a tally to the number of incidents that have occurred. 

A major confrontation took place during half-time at a pre-season friendly between the Columbus Crew and West Ham United. The trouble started when around 30 West Ham supporters entered the north-east corner of the Crew Stadium where the Crew’s most audible fans were located.

Provoking chants and some fighting between the two sets of fans broke out and it took the intervention of the Columbus police to break up the violence.

“East! East! East Lon-don!” were the chants coming from the West Ham fans.

The Crew supporters shouted back, “Co-lum-bus! Co-lum-bus!”

It doesn’t seem like enough to start a brawl, but in the end that’s what happened. The Columbus Crew are said to be responsible starting the scuffles which took place. More than 100 Crew fans were involved and it overshadowed what was otherwise a good match that ended with West Ham running out 3-1 winners.

It has been reported that the police were even forced to use pepper spray to help break up the fracas and have already made several arrests. Numerous fans were seen handcuffed outside the stadium after the game.

Soon after the brawl had occurred, West Ham fans then unfolded a banner that read “ICF, 30 years undefeated.”

The ICF stands for the Inter City Firm, which is one of the most disreputable hooligan groups in all of England.

Obviously there has been worse brawls in sports in the United States in the past, but that doesn’t change the fact that soccer hooliganism could well become a problem for soccer in the US.

If a fight could break out over something so simple in the Columbus Crew vs West Ham game, then I guess it wouldn’t take much for another clash to break out sometime soon.

I've seen hooliganism over and over again across Europe. I'll never forget the Champions League match between AC Milan and Inter Milan was abandoned with 19 minutes to go because of the violence created by the fans.

And then there was the incident between Manchester United and Roma fans before the first leg of their quarter final meeting in 2007.

Hooliganism is everywhere.

Following the match in Columbus, West Ham manager Alan Curbishley said, “It was a terrific game for us. We wanted to show people what we’re all about.”  

Well Mr. Curbishley, the only things you really showed us, thanks to your fans, is that us Americans have to deal with the problem of hooliganism.

Also, in a recent poll asking Americans if they thought hooliganism made soccer more interesting, 57% said "No" while 43%  answered "Yes."


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