The media’s coverage of football hooliganism, be it through television or newspapers, is very significant as it is the media that help construct the public’s understanding and perception of the problem. It is often claimed that hooliganism at football matches became much more ubiquitous in the 1970’s and 1980’s, with more reported wide-scale violence at matches. However it is difficult to know whether the amount of disorder increased or whether the growing media interest in (and coverage of) crowd disorder meant it was reported far more regularly.
The tabloid press in particular have found hooliganism to be an easy target and have often, as some have said, sensationalised the problem to boosts sales of their paper. The tabloid press therefore may have helped to intensify the problem to a wider extent than the reality of the situation. Since the 1960s, in fact, journalists have been sent to football matches to report on crowd behaviour, rather than just the game.
However, although some may claim that the press have tried to create a feeling that the problem of hooliganism is a larger one than it actually is, the television media cannot help but pick out instances of violence at football grounds constantly. The enormous increase in the amount of television cameras present at football matches across the country means that disturbances within stadiums are inevitably caught on video, which proves that problem is there and is not sensationalised in these instances.
It is generally agreed that British football hooliganism has probably been over-researched. Despite a general decline in violence at football matches in recent years, the phenomenon still attracts a disproportionate amount of research activity. Violence in football stadiums nowadays is very rare. This is mainly due to the fact that the majority of football stadiums (particularly in the Premiership) are all-seater. As a result terraces have been wiped out and so stadiums are now no longer used as meeting places for hooligans. As well as television cameras at football stadiums, CCTV cameras have also been installed by clubs to catch hooligans committing an offence. Knowing that there is a strong possibility of getting caught on camera, football yobs tend to refrain from causing any damage.
However, this does not mean that football hooliganism has reduced. The most wide-scale football violence involving English hooligans now tends to take place abroad. Be it at international matches or fans travelling to support their clubs in a European competition. The most recent examples of this includes rioting involving English fans at Charleroi during Euro 2000 and in August 2000 two Leeds United fans were fatally stabbed in Galatasary, 24 hours before a UEFA Champions League match between the two sides.