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ENGLISH SOCCER HOOLIGANISM; MIRROR OF ENGLISH STATE SECONDARY SCHOOLS

Rt.Rev.Dr.Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa

Although Italy clinched the much coveted European soccer trophy after edging England on home turf at Wembly stadium, the euphoria surrounding the competition was engulfed in billowing smoke of English hooliganism.  Pandemonium broke after the final whistle when England failed to convert its penalties, coincidentally by three youthful black talented players. Expletives were hurled at the black players for their failure to assist the English soccer team clinch a trophy that had eluded them during a 55 year major trophy drought that was certainly not orchestrated by black players.  The atmosphere had already turned ugly even before kick off since many English soccer fans who did not have tickets and had not undergone the mandatory vaccination verification exercise, stormed the stadium and forced their way into the stadium. Others who remained outside the stadium downed bottles of the proverbial English liquor and started causing chaos. Upon defeat, English soccer fans whipped themselves into frenzy, ran amok, and threw punches and kicks at the innocent, timid and totally psychologically unprepared Italian fans. The hooliganism must have been an embarrassment to the gentil English folk, in the wake of the Brexit which pitted Britain against Europe. The stadium fights with defenseless Italian soccer fans later morphed into street battles with the Police. There was ransacking of nearby shopping centers and anything the mobs could lay their hands on. Sadly, the police who are cultured to act as pure English gentlemen did not succeed in arresting the situation simply because they had prepared security for a soccer stadium and not a war fortress. Where could such uncultured behaviour come from? Beginning around 1960s, the United Kingdom gained a reputation worldwide for soccer hooliganism which became a painful and embarrassing reflection of British society. Soccer hooliganism was dubbed worldwide the British or English disease. A crackdown on hooliganism since 1950s has involved courts slapping lifelong bans on notorious soccer hooligans from attending matches. This hooliganism stems from a long term nurtured culture of rebellion against authority, civility and a mentality of entitlement which finds no space for defeat in a soccer contest. When my daughter sent me a text asking which team I was to support, I indicated to her that since Messi had won the Copa America a night before, I was going to be neutral on who would win the European trophy. I was just prepared to enjoy a good game of soccer but on second thoughts, I texted her, ‘When England wins Covid 19 disease may increase and all streets will be jammed and alcohol may kill some. It is better England doesn’t win. Sadly if they lose, with an error say of the referee, the whole of London will burn.’ My premonition and trepidation was premised on my teaching experience in English State Secondary Schools between year 2000 and 2003 when I was a postgraduate research student at the University of Leeds. In the book I authored ‘Contrasting Ironies; English and Ugandan State Secondary Schools’, I explored the unfortunate and appalling indiscipline of students, unlike in Ugandan schools that I had taught in, who disrespected teachers, overlooked teachers of colour, teased us and disrupted lessons willfully. Even for white teachers they suffered at the hands of unruly students and even when caught up in a disciplinary incident with a teacher, once school administration was involved, or, City Education authorities, they often came out the victors. English society is largely a class society where the wretched of the earth tend to go to particular state secondary schools close to their post-codes, grow up to take up mainly menial jobs, watch particular sports like soccer, not golf for example. No wonder the unchecked indiscipline in State Secondary schools has come home, to haunt the English society in public glare, not the trophy, that was highly billed to come home on English soil, in the now infamous slogan ‘It is coming home’. By a twist of fate, it is coming home ended up translating into ‘It is coming to Rome.’ The Italian soccer fans had the last laugh since they clinched the most coveted European soccer trophy themselves having patiently waited for a 53 year drought. The biggest lesson for the English folk is to reflect on their State education system that clusters children into those who are destined to be cultured, gentil and civil and others who are apt to be educated rudimentary, uncultured and de-motivated to excel in any human endeavour thus be conscripted to the lowly positions of society with nothing to lose in terms of public image.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa (P hd.) smwesigwafred@gmail.comBishop Ankole Diocese & Chancellor Bishop Stuart University

Published in the New Vision on  3rd August 2021

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