Passionate football fans are more likely to show KINDNESS to rival supporters, study finds

While football hooligans are often portrayed as violent and aggressive, a new study suggests that the stereotype isn't actually entirely true


Forget the stereotypical hooligan! Passionate football fans are more likely to show KINDNESS towards rival team supporters, study finds

  • Passionate football fans are more likely to be hostile towards rival supporters
  • However, these fans are also more likely to demonstrate altruistic behaviours
  • This includes hugging, stopping to help and giving emotional support
  • Findings challenge the long-standing stereotypes around football hooligans

While football hooligans are often portrayed as violent and aggressive, a new study suggests that this stereotype isn’t entirely true. 

Researchers from the University of Kent have revealed that while passionate football fans are more likely to be hostile to rival supporters, they’re also more likely to show kindness. 

Dr Martha Newson, lead author of the study, said: ‘These findings challenge some of the long-standing myths and stereotypes around football hooligans in the UK.’

While football hooligans are often portrayed as violent and aggressive, a new study suggests that the stereotype isn't actually entirely true

While football hooligans are often portrayed as violent and aggressive, a new study suggests that the stereotype isn’t actually entirely true

Dr Martha Newson, lead author of the study, said: 'These findings challenge some of the long-standing myths and stereotypes around football hooligans in the UK'

Dr Martha Newson, lead author of the study, said: ‘These findings challenge some of the long-standing myths and stereotypes around football hooligans in the UK’

Manchester City to test high-tech SCARVES 

Manchester City supporters will be able to try out a new smart football scarf during the 2022/23 season. 

The ‘Connected Scarf’, created in collaboration with tech company Cisco, has a biometric sensor integrated into the fabric. 

The sensor records a range of emotional and physiological responses, including heart rate, body temperature and blood flow through the skin. 

Scarf data will give the club a better understanding of how fans feel at different moments of a football match and the physiological emotions they go through. 

Fans could show a rise in heart rate and body temperature during crucial moments of a match – like a penalty miss or a last-minute winner, for example. 

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The study found the more fused (or close) an English football fan felt to their club, the more likely they were to have been hostile towards rival supporters in the past.

And men were more likely than women to have been hostile towards rivals.

However, when analysing altruistic behaviour like hugging, stopping to help and giving emotional support towards fans of the same club, those who were more strongly fused were most likely to demonstrate this behaviour.

Researchers also found that women were significantly more likely than men to be altruistic to fellow fans.

Encouragingly, the results published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology also reveal that strongly-fused fans prioritised altruism towards fellow fans over hostility towards rivals.

This suggests violence and negative behaviour are not a primary consideration for fans, researchers say. 

‘We have strong evidence that passionate football fans can have a positive impact at games, not only on their fellow fans which we’ve known for some time, but also with fans of rival teams,’ Ms Newson said. 

‘Research like this could be utilised by clubs to strengthen their fan communities, creating opportunities such as volunteer programmes that fans can get involved in and help others, as we’ve seen in the joint efforts between Liverpool and Everton’s food banks.

‘The psychology we find in football fans is not unique of course, and there’s potential for similar inter-group intervention work in higher conflict groups who share a common goal, such as encouraging dialogue between gangs who may not share a postcode but do share a city.

‘Focusing on what fans can do to affect positive change in their communities is one way to change the narrative, and hopefully create more positive environments at games both at home and away.’

The researchers investigated identity fusion – a visceral sense of ‘oneness’ with the group – in 497 British football fans.

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They were asked what team they supported, and questions about how strongly they felt they belonged to a fan group.

Additionally, they were asked questions about hostile and altruistic behaviour.

Altruistic behaviour towards rival fans was investigated in a second study.

The study found that despite having a higher propensity for hostility towards rivals, strongly fused fans were also more likely to behave altruistically to their rival fans than fans who were not strongly fused to the club (stock image)

The study found that despite having a higher propensity for hostility towards rivals, strongly fused fans were also more likely to behave altruistically to their rival fans than fans who were not strongly fused to the club (stock image)

It found that despite having a higher propensity for hostility towards rivals, strongly fused fans were also more likely to behave altruistically to their rival fans than fans who were not strongly fused to the club.

Women, once again, were more likely to display these behaviours.

There was also a trend for younger fans to desire this altruism, compared to older fans.

Dr Newson will be at the British Science Festival in Leicester, hosted by De Montfort University, discussing the ancient origins of tribal behaviour in football fans and other modern groups.

WHAT MAKES THE BEST FOOTBALLER?

Players with great skill, such as Lionel Messi (pictured) are more likely to win games than players with superior athletic ability 

Players with great skill, such as Lionel Messi (pictured) are more likely to win games than players with superior athletic ability 

Skillful footballers are more likely to win matches than even the most athletic players, according to research from the University of Queensland.

A study found that balance and skill when controlling the ball can tip a game toward a win more than speed, strength, or fitness.

The researchers say their study could help football coaching academies focus their training on player attributes that are more likely to win games.

The Queensland team used analytical techniques developed in evolutionary biology to determine the impact of a player’s skill, athletic ability, and balance on their success during a game.

They found that a player’s skill that was the most important factor to their and their team’s performance.

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Players will higher skill were more likely to be more involved in games and have more successful contributions.

However, players with top athletic abilities like speed, strength and fitness were not associated with higher success rates in games.  

‘Higher skill allows players to have a greater impact on the game,’said lead researcher Dr Robbie Wilson, from the University of Queensland, Australia, told MailOnline.

‘Accurate passing and greater ball control are more important for success than high speed, strength and fitness.

‘It may be obvious to fans and coaches that players like Lionel Messi and Neymar are the best due to their skill.

‘However, 90 per cent of research on soccer players is based on how to improve their speed, strength, and agility — not their skill.’

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