Some football clubs are nice and cosy. They welcome women and children and have fans who sing and chant good-natured banter that is gently mocking rather than overtly abusive. Then there are some clubs whose fans veer towards the utterly terrifying. Here are some of the worst.
That the Istanbul-based Turkish side’s home ground is nicknamed “Hell” and often has the kind of atmosphere that would make war veterans jumpy should give you an indication of the hostilities to be found here. But the fact that Galatasaray “fans” stabbed and killed two Leeds United fans before their sides clashed in the UEFA Cup semi-final in 2000 puts them at the top of our list here. With violent clashes with fans of Manchester United in 1993 and Paris Saint-Germain supporters in 2001, they have a reputation that few (other than Millwall fans) would admire.
Red Star Belgrade
Serbian club Red Star Belgrade have had more than their fair share of controversy over the years, but none more so than when, in 1990, they travelled to a match at the Maksimir Stadium in the capital of Croatia to play against Dinamo Zagreb. Fans of the Serbian side were embroiled with nationalism at the time and they were being led by Željko Ražnatović (also known as “Arkan”) who had been wanted by Interpol for much of the 1970s and 80s for robberies and murders in various countries and was even indicted by the UN for crimes against humanity. To him, starting a massive riot at a football match might have been small fry, but for those beaten, stabbed and gassed it was anything but.
What better way to celebrate winning the league title than to start a riot? That must have been the thought going through the heads of the morons of Mexican league side Monterrey after their side became champions in 2003, the first time since 1986. The problem was, the well-meaning riot soon morphed into a drunken melee of violence and anarchy that resulted in at least two people being killed and over 200 being arrested.
With a seemingly proud association with football hooliganism that was particularly prevalent in the 1970s and 80s, Millwall have been sanctioned by the Football Association on numerous occasions in the form of fines and even ground closures after a number of violent incidents. As well as apparently instigating the 1985 Kenilworth Road riot, the Birmingham play-off riot of 2002 and the Upton Park riot of 2009, Millwall fans took their idiocy to new levels when they met Wigan in the 2013 FA Cup semi-final: late on in the match when they were 2-0 Millwall fans started fighting amongst themselves. That’s dedication to the cause.
While some people have a natural aversion to Liverpool fans (for instance Everton fans!), there seems little reason for Roma supporters to detest them so much. But apparently they do. Or at least that would be the suggestion given five Reds fans were stabbed ahead of their side’s clash with Roma in the Italian capital in February 2001. Weirdly three of them were stabbed in the buttocks. Maybe it was some doubly cruel ploy to make sure they couldn’t sit down and watch the game. To be fair, often Rome’s riot police are as bad as the Roma fans when it comes to dishing out the beatings.
Whilst Netherlands might be often thought of as a flat land of tulips, windmills, clogs, cheese and spliffs, it has a nasty undercurrent of hooliganism that accompanies its football. This became very publicly apparent in 2006 when Feyenoord visited Nancy in France for a UEFA Cup match and the Dutch side’s fans took it upon themselves to rip up a load of seat and start using them as slightly brutal (and, let’s face it, far too big) pieces of ticker tape. Whilst their motivations were no doubt purely aesthetic in nature, the result was a good few bruises for the stewards and a 20 minute delay. To everyone’s relief (except the Feyenoord idiots) Nancy won the match and progressed to the next round as the Dutch fans returned home to stand on the naughty step and think about their actions.
Celtic and Rangers
This Glasgow Old Firm pairing haven’t cared much for one another over their decades of rivalry, and with the religious and political affiliations that are associated with the clubs and the highly emotive songs and chants they burst out at one another (that are awash with violent “lyrics”) it is no surprise tensions have bubbled over into serious violence on and off the pitch on numerous occasions. There have been various football-related sectarian attacks and threats between supporters of these clubs including suspected explosive devices and bullets being sent through the post to staff and supporters of Celtic. Wouldn’t a funny postcard have sufficed?