Hooliganism is one of those odd words that an American won't commonly come to use or define. It typically means a crowd which has gathered and using rioting or vandalism as a form of entertainment (my personal definition). Rarely do hooligans perform for political reason.
The general history? It goes back to the 1890s, and the act was noted in British newspapers about a particular youth gang operating around London, and having a mass crowd which likely used the riot as part of their gimmick in robbing either individuals in the crowd or local stores.
Somewhere in the 1970s....in the UK....hooligans became part of the national soccer league. It was more a drinking and rowdy pastime....than saying anything political.
Germans drifted into hooliganism during the 1990s. On camera, the German cops will readily admit that they track certain soccer fan clubs now, and deploy hundreds of cops to various games where hooligan group one will meet up with hooligan group two, while their two soccer clubs meet and play out a game.
Lately, in Germany, talk has centered on regional police departments and public statements by residents hostile over the amount of cost to police operations in support of soccer games now.
Some teams have minimal hooligans in the background, and some games might have as few as a hundred cops in the background between the parking areas, the train station, or the stadium areas itself. That would be a normal type national game.
Some teams have maximum hooligan participation going on, and with the right game mix.....there might be a thousand cops in the background.....all of this....leading to an overtime cost, cops being deployed from two and three hours away from the stadium, and fewer cops on regular patrol for that weekend.
The public sentiment is that cities ought to stop supporting the cop participation, or force the soccer clubs to pay for this. Naturally, this worries soccer clubs because there's no way they could hint of a twenty-five Euro fee added to tickets, just to offer private security protection.
All of this comes around to this past weekend's event in Koln, where hooligans met on the street in a political demonstration episode, against radical Islamic trends. Yeah, it's a shock for the cops, the political folks, and the intelligence mechanism that monitors hooligans in Germany.
Total showing up? Cops say near 4,000 participants. The news media mostly agrees...noting that it involved hooligans from both Koln and the Hessen state (nearby).
Organization was the theme, with a Facebook site up for a number of days....signing people up and passing out the word. Somewhere in the mix.....the Facebook site was taken down. No one says if it was the Facebook crowd who took it down or the hooligans themselves.
Monday's political chat players came to talk of banning hooligans from meeting up and conducting demonstrations. There's some worry.....if the Islamic characters form up their own hooligans, and meet with the football hooligans.....there's bound to be a massive public episode to brew. The ultimate worry would be that the typical average German sides with the German hooligans, and a national mess develops overnight.
In some ways, you get the feeling that as much as the Islamic mullahs are baiting their own crowd here in Germany.....the football hooligan clubs are baiting their crowds now. The cops are standing in the middle, and I suspect they might be asking just how much can the German authorities ask for separating the two groups.
It would be hard to predict where this goes. Maybe a handful of arrests occur, and the hooligans get taken down a step. Maybe a cop hints strongly to some mullah that it's time to lessen your enthusiasm, for your own protection. And maybe the political folks might be able to charm the news media enough to carry national "peaceful" comments over events like this. Maybe.