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To say that football hooliganism sometimes entails violent behavior is an understatement. A soccer thug may throw a rival fan fifty feet to their death or toss an explosive into a police officer's car. These are the sort of things you do in the first five minutes of the best Stallone movies to justify why Sly pulling into your town to clean things up! Here are ten examples of the horrors unleashed upon the world by the most feared soccer hooligan gangs.
Chelsea Headhunters—London, England
London's Chelsea Headhunters are one of the most feared soccer hooligan gangs thanks to their associations with far-right extremist groups like the National Front. With racism and toxic masculinity running through the currents of the Headhunters, it was only a matter of time before a soccer thug like Kevin Whitton beat someone nearly to death and ended up in jail for life. In Whitton's case, after Chelsea lost a match, he took his frustration out on an American bar manager. Reportedly, Whitton was egged on by a fellow Headhunter yelling, "You bloody Americans. Coming here taking our jobs!" What happened to the British people Pink Floyd described as, "hanging on in quiet desperation"?
Newell's Old Boys—Rosario, Argentina
The hooligan clubs in Argentina, locally known as Barra Bravas, make money outside stadiums. But the business of Barra Bravas is more than just selling tickets or merch. Sometimes the stakes are high enough for participants that the Grim Reaper itself makes an appearance. In 2010, for example, Walter Caceres, 14, was shot to death during an ambush. And just weeks later Roberto "Pimpi" Caminos was murdered in a drive-by. Caminos's body was dropped off near a local hospital. This type of violent behavior is not what we expected when we first heard the term "football hooliganism"! No wonder the Old Boys are considered one of the most feared soccer hooligan gangs. Just another example of how people need to understand what football hooliganism and how to stop it. It's a legitimate scourge.
In 2007, Italy just straight up canceled football for the year because Catania some of supporters murdered a police officer. That's enough to be considered one of the most feared soccer hooligan gangs! Officer Filippo Racisti was trying to quell a riot when a bomb was thrown into his car. I would never go to a football match if I knew that happened. "But Ben, it's been years!" "I don't care, and don't call me, 'Butt Ben.'"
Atletico Nacional—Medellín, Colombia
In 2012, a fight between fans of Atletico Nacional and fans of Independiente Medellin left 315 in cuffs, 9 injured, and one fan with their brains all over the floor courtesy of a gunshot wound. That's enough to make Atletico Nacional one of the most feared soccer hooligan gangs! How do you even continue as a community when you find out football hooliganism led to a man being shot to death? That's a reason to unincorporate a town and scatter across the lands in search of barren land to claim as one's own. "We're starting a new community here where football will never be played!"
After their team beat the Cairo team Al-Ahly, fans of Masry flooded the stadium. They scared off Al-Ahley players and then they took to the stands for a riot that ended with 74 dead and 248 injured. What's even the point?! WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?! This level of senseless death is enough to send one into a spiral of existential dread. How is humanity even supposed to slow climate change if there's people who get murdered by football hooliganism?!
Benito Mussolini was a one time supporter of Lazio. Il Duce himself! Not a surprise, then, that some members of the Lazio club Irriducibili, have been connected to terrorist acts against anti-fascist groups. They even take their racist hate out on Lazio players themselves. Not all supporters behave this way but this is certainly a case of a bad apple spoiling the whole bunch because the only thing we can think about is terrorist acts committed against anti-fascist groups. WHAT?!
Universitario de Deportes—Lima, Peru
Fans of Universitario de Deportes have set fire to cars and buses belonging to rival supporters. In 2011, Walter Oyarce Domínguez, who came to a game to see Alianza, a rival team, was thrown into the stadium. Domínguez died several days later from injuries he sustained from the 50 plus foot fall. It is infuriating to know that fans of a sport use the spirit of football to commit such heinous acts. These fans of Universitario de Deportes are some of the most feared soccer hooligan gangs for sure.
El Salvador and Honduras
Supporters of Honduras and El Salvador found themselves expressing the tension between these two nations when they went head-to-head in the 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifier. As the three matches played out, diplomatic relations worsened until armed conflicts began to occur on the Salvadorian/Honduran border. Things escalated from there with the conflict becoming a full-fledged war that saw four days of battle. The fans that watched those games are some of the most feared soccer hooligan gangs by virtue of having a literal war named after them. The "Football War" had long lasting consequences for the region!
Krakow and MKS Cracovia—Poland
Krakow and MKS Cracovia have a rivalry that's been dubbed a "Holy War" by locals. Of course, what we've learned now is that this isn't an ironic diminutive but instead an apt descriptor for what is likely a bloody conflict. And that's exactly what the "Holy War" is. In 2006, for example, eight people were killed. Ain't nothing cute about that! In fact, these fans are some of the most feared soccer hooligan gangs around.
Gladiators Firm 96—Russia
Russian fan Vasily "The Killer" Stepanov has achieved fame within the European hooliganism world. He's the perfect image of a soccer thug: hulking, tattooed, and even wearing a mouth guard that reads "Killer." If Stepanov was a figurehead, you can only imagine the sort behavior he inspired in others, making Gladiator Firm 96 one of the most feared soccer hooligan gangs in the world. He's allegedly the man behind attacks that have led rival fans in comas. These days, though, Stepanov claims he's retired from hooliganism, in part because police forces have made it clear that violent behavior will not be tolerated in the Russia 2018 World Cup.