Arrests and reported disorderly incidents at football matches in England and Wales last season were at their highest level in eight years.
According to Interior Ministry figures, there were 2,198 football-related arrests, the highest number since the 2013-2014 season.
The 2021-22 campaign saw crowds return after a year of Covid-19 restrictions.
Last season’s turmoil included getting close to players after storming the field.
a A fan has been jailed after running onto the pitch and hitting Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp in the head At the end of the play-off between Nottingham Forest vs. Blades.
A Manchester City fan who ran onto the pitch and mocked Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen on the final day of the season at the Etihad has received a four-year football ban.
More accidents reported and more arrests – key stats
- Accidents were reported in more than half of all matches (53%) – 1,609 out of 3,019 matches were played
- About 70% of the fans who were arrested last season are between 18 and 30 years old
- In 2018-19 – the last full season before Covid-19 restrictions – there were 1,381 arrests and incidents reported in 1,007 matches, equal to a third of matches played.
- This means that reported accidents increased by 60% last season compared to 2018-2019
- 441 pitch invasions were reported last season – a 127% increase in 2018-2019
- Football-related arrests increased by 59% – the largest number of arrests since 2,273 in 2013-2014
- 516 new ban orders issued – down from 549 in 2018-2019
- The top three clubs with new stop orders – Millwall (33), Leicester City (28) and Everton (26).
- The most frequently reported types of incidents were fireworks (729 matches where incidents were reported), rocket throwing (561) and public order or antisocial behavior incidents involving youth supporters (444).
‘Trend may cause problems for 20 years’
Football police chief Mark Roberts told the BBC that unless action is taken with some of the younger fans implicated in the chaos “we will have a problem with them for the next 20 years”.
“Some people have suggested it may be fading and that was a post-Covid effect,” Roberts told the BBC. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen it continue and there are some worrying statistics.”
Asked why the numbers were increasing, Roberts said: “There are a range of reasons. It’s not just in the UK. We’re talking to police and colleagues across Europe and UEFA and it’s being seen across the continent.”
“I think we know some of the driving factors that we’ve seen for a long time. Alcohol and first-class drug use, cocaine, certainly play a role in driving it.”
“More young people are getting involved in chaos and crime and the highest rate of arrests has been among younger males. The concern is that if people are behaving this way now, unless action is taken, we are going to have them in trouble for the next 20 years.”
“You can speculate that maybe some of the people were younger who went to games with their parents before Covid but grew up a little bit more. You could say there have been fewer cops in the land over the years.
“With oversight, we know there have been challenges and a lot of people have left the industry during Covid and that has given people space to engage in bad behaviour.”
Change in the security industry is also something that Jeff Pearson, a professor of law at the University of Manchester, says could be a factor.
“There has been a breakdown in the security industry in general and it is in crisis,” Pearson told the BBC.
“It affects football in the same way that it affects other entertainment industries. It simply does not have the staff that it needs to be able to serve the entertainment industry in this country including football.
“A lot of accredited security people left the industry during the lockdown and didn’t want to come back, and the other reason is Brexit because a lot of our security sector was people from Europe who came, sometimes seasonally, and they are not here anymore.”
“[Fan behaviour] It definitely got worse.”
The latest statements come on the heels of recent comments made by England internationals Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier, who said there was a problem with fan behavior in football.
Tottenham’s Dier says he feels “extremely uncomfortable” for his family attending away matches, while Liverpool captain Henderson says his family’s experiences may “prevent them from going to future matches”.
“[Fan behaviour] “It definitely got worse,” Dyer said.
“It’s a serious problem for me. I had some family and friends in the Chelsea away game with Tottenham and they had problems.
“I wanted to stress that they are both fans – I’m not saying they are Chelsea fans or Tottenham fans, they are football fans in general.”
Henderson added: “My family and friends have had two experiences over the past two years, which has really shocked them and probably made them stay away from going to future games.
“When you see scenes like the one you have in the Euro final, in the Champions League final, they don’t really want to go and put themselves in that situation again.
“My wife and children had to try to get into a side door (at Wembley) they wouldn’t let them in at first. They were trapped.”
Home Secretary Jeremy Quinn added: “The increase in football-related arrests shows that police are taking resolute action to stem the chaos and keep the game fun for fans and families that I wholeheartedly support.”