The opening day of the Swedish soccer season began in tragedy after police confirmed that a supporter of the soccer team Djurgården died due to his injuries after being beaten up in the city of Helsingborg. Sweden’s current issues highlight how much progress that has been made in England since its violent days of the 1980’s. Back then, hooliganism was as much a part of English soccer as beer drinking is today.
No one is saying that English hooliganism has gone away. But the on the English scene, hooliganism has been in decline ever since its peak in the 80’s. After the riots in 1985, caused by Luton and Millwall fans, Ted Croker, head of the FA, was summoned to see Margaret Thatcher and soon the police were sticking their oar in. Then the Hillsborough disaster happened in 1989 and almost all soccer stadiums became all-seated affairs. Years later, a widespread CCTV coverage was standard procedure on all arenas, making it easy to identify notorious troublemakers.
Nowadays, arrests at English soccer matches are a rare sight and it will most likely stay that way. In that sense, the English Model is a great success, worth to be replicated by other countries experiencing the same problems as England used to.
In Sweden however, we see a different development. Incidents of soccer violence have been on the rise in Sweden for a long time now. And even though Sweden’s Justice Minister has called for tighter legislation to improve the security at soccer games, little progress has been shown. Maybe the death of an innocent will make the Swedish government to start taking hooliganism seriously. But even if so, the price has been far too high.