A questionnaire to assess the perception of racism in football was distributed to football clubs and their spectators in the North East of England, and 10% of these questionnaires were returned. The results of this research seem to demonstrate that racism has little influence and plays a minimal role in the production of hooliganism within English professional football at least as a simple causal agent.
Racism - the theory that people of one race are superior to another race, and this theory often results in hostility towards the supposed inferior race, and practices of discrimination (Williams 1991).
Hooliganism - Although the exact definition of hooligans is rather open-ended, it can be characterised as violence toward opposing fans, players, and referee's or destruction of objects inside or around the stadium. Violent incidents that occur following a game that fans perpetrate is also often considered acts of hooliganism (University of Leicester 2002).
Professional football in England still suffers from incidents, trends and traditions which suggest that racism is very much a part of the game. For instance, comments by individuals involved in playing, managing and mediating football in England are suggestive of an acceptability of racism in and around the game (Metro 2007). This has largely been attributed to Britain's colonial past, where it was common place for racial stereotypes to prevail (University of Leicester 2002). Whilst most of this racism has been targeted towards black players, it is also affecting England's reputation for international matches with its European counterparts (University of Leicester 2002, Giulianotti and Armstrong 2003, Spaaij 2006).
The fact that black players and white, but foreign, players are the subject of racist comments shows the at the term "racist" is not as simple as it might at least superficially seem. The black players may be targeted because of their "blackness", while the other foreign players are targeted for their "foreignness": but "black" and "foreign" are not synonymous. Some black players are targeted for racist comments by supposedly 'friendly' supporters, i.e. supporters of the team that the black player is playing on. Added to this mix is the element of "hooliganism" in which the hurling of racial epithets from one group of supporters to another is often the precursor to violence, then a complex situation arises.
This situation has further been exploited by right wing groups who use football grounds to distribute their paraphernalia; examples include the 1982 World Cup Finals, where right wing organisers were actively recruiting sympathisers, before and