Fox Soccer Channel don't seem to be able to show live internationals, at least not of any of the home nations, so instead today they dug out a nice little show on football rivalries instead*. Today's show was on the Old Firm - perhaps the strongest rivalry in football. Of course, the rivalry is about much more than just football - it is also about religious bigotry.
One of the people interviewed by the show was Brian Wilson**, a 'Celtic Historian' according to the show, but actually a British politician who is also a Celtic fan and now a director at the club.
He gave a quote that I like: "if football is a repository for these [sectarian] attitudes then football has a duty to address them".
I agree. I can draw parallels between football hooliganism and other group 'issues' in the world today. In football in general and in British*** football in particular, we have had in the past problems of a small proportion of football fans behaving in socially unacceptable ways. If football fans who do not participate to work to eradicate this then they are complicit in it. If you openly associate yourself with any group which has a significant proportion of people (significant either by the group's size or else by the fact that other groups are not behaving in that way****), then you must openly oppose the 'anti-social' elements. If your group has some sort of a, let's say, charter, which glorifies in some way the behaviour of the football hooligans and either makes it difficult for you to criticise them (without twisting the charter too much) or makes it easy to point to that charter as justification, then you need to consider how best to address this.
Perhaps Wilson's advice should be taken in other circumstances too.
* It turned out to be more interesting than listening to the England-Wales match on the internet radio anyway.
** Get around, get around, I get around. I get around, round, round..... NO! NOT THAT ONE.
*** Scots like to claim innocence, but I know!
**** Probability of a football fan being a hooligan versus Probability that a hooligan is a football fan.