Football hooliganism has received significant attention from sociologists and anthropologists who analyze its cultural aspects and police looking at how to prevent and control it.
Of the 122 fan groups in the Western Balkans, 78 belong to the “ultras” – passionate and well-organized associations, and 21 can be considered hooligans and security threats.
This was stated in the report titled “Dangerous Games: Football Hooliganism, Politics and Organized Crime in the Western Balkans” of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC), Bljesak.info reported.
However, several studies consider the relationship between football hooliganism and organized crime. Unlike studies focusing on football hooliganism in certain countries such as Croatia or Serbia, where there is extensive research into the links between football and violence, this report fills the gap by analyzing the issue from a broader, regional perspective.
The report begins by mapping the main football fan clubs in each of the Western Balkan countries. It then identifies which of these groups can be considered “ultra”.
Further analysis highlights which of these ultra groups show the attributes of football hooliganism, and how this hooliganism is related to organized crime and politics. This report carefully distinguishes between ultras and football hooligans: Ultras are understood as groups of stubborn football fans associated with a particular team; Football hooligans are involved in violence within the football milieu, and some of these hooligans are involved in organized crime.
The report recommends paying more attention to social conditions that motivate vulnerable youth to engage in football hooliganism, which can serve as a starting point for organized crime. It also suggests ways to identify and sever links between hooligan groups and organized crime.
Among the fan groups that pose a potential threat, GI-TOC analysts listed “Ultras Guerrills” and “Tirona Fanatics” from Albania, “Ultras,” “Horde zla,” “Lesinari,” “Manijaci,” “Red Army” and “Skripari” from BiH, “Shqiponjat” and “Plisat” from Kosovo, “Street Boys,” “Varvari” and “Vojvode” from Montenegro, “Ballistet Komiti” and “Svercerat” from North Macedonia, and “Delije,” “Grobari,” “Firma,” “United Force” and “Torcida Sandzak” from Serbia.