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2014 | 6(2) | 55-68

Article title

Debate on Football Hooliganism in Poland: the Myths, Facts and Psychological Benefits of Social Exclusion

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The term football (soccer) hooliganism is an umbrella term for describing various types of violations of public order.These occur not only during football matches, but also before and after matches, and while traveling to and from games. The mostcommon forms of negative behavior of soccer fans include: collective fights between rival groups, throwing dangerous objects ontothe pitch, attacking police forces and damage to trains, city buses and trams. The article discusses the facts and myths concerningthe football (soccer) hooligan subculture in Poland and presents football hooligans — mostly young males — as a socially excludedgroup. The author bases his reflections on over 20 years observation of football hooligan groups in Poland and an analysis of pressreports concerning Polish football hooliganism. In contrast to the prevailing view in the literature, the author points to numerouspsychological benefits which result from the stigmatization and exclusion process. Marginalization does not necessarily involvea decrease in the quality of life as perceived subjectively by the individual or the group. The individual may be shielded fromthe perceived sense of the low quality of life that accompanies social exclusion. This occurs as a result of the creation of group bonds,following a comprehensive set of rules of conduct and adherence to the same values. The author emphasizes that it is importantto understand the perception of “football reality” from the hooligans’ perspective and not solely from that of wider society.





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