Distressing pictures have emerged of ‘the next generation of football hooligans’ and appear to show young boys drinking beer, carrying knives and threatening violence.
The Mirror claims they call themselves ‘schooligans’ and images shared over social media appear to show boys, many under the age of 18, emulating the behaviour of older football hooligans.
One of the pictures shows a young man holding a Stanley knife along with the caption ‘Millwall away days’, while another shows a boy, his face hidden behind a Bristol Rovers scarf, brandishing a knife while sipping on a beer.
The menacing football fans have even sewn the word ‘casual’ into their uniforms, referencing the eighties hooligan sub-culture.
The photos, along with the actions of fans at Euro 2016, suggest that hooliganism which was endemic in the 70s and 80s is still a problem for football.
Official statistics have suggested that under 18s are being repeatedly banned from football matches, with one youngster, aged just 12, banned from attending Sunderland games.
Police have begun to visit schools to explain that they could be seriously hurt while fighting and could end up with a criminal record.
There’s also been talk of introducing Football Banning Orders – used to ban England fans at international tournaments if they cause trouble – on kids as a last resort.
However, a case worker for the Football Supporters Federation has said that young people need to be ‘steered away’ from trouble before throwing the book at them.
There’s no doubt that there is a glamourisation of football disorder and kids are attracted to it for the wrong reason.
There does need to be some consistency – if 14, 15, 16-year-olds are getting banning orders, that should be the last resort, not the first.
The stats also show a surprising number of over 50s who’ve been banned from attending games so it’s not just youngsters causing trouble.