English football fans made their mark on the World Cup in Russia with the slogan "It's coming home" — a dream that Croatia dashed on Wednesday night.
The hype that affected England and their fans all over the world until the Three Lions crashed out of the tournament seems innocent enough — but in reality, English football fans are famous for their terrible behaviour around the world.
Wednesday night's match between England and Croatia went down fairly peacefully. But while English fans are by no means the only hooligans in town, their reputation for violence has preceded them. From domestic violence and banning orders to damage to property and offending foreign nations, here are eight ways that English fans are the worst:
- The link between football fans and violence is well documented around the world, but recent research shows just how serious the phenomenon is in Britain. According to The Conversation, study by the U.K.'s National Centre for Domestic Violence recently showed that there was a 26 percent increase in domestic violence reports when England won or drew in matches during the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups. There was a 38 percent increase when England lost, and reports were at their highest when the team exited the tournament.
- Spanish business owners in the seaside Spanish port of Benidorm were reportedly so shocked at the behaviour of English football fans when the team played Sweden last week, that they hired extra security ahead of the England/Croatia match on Wednesday.
- According to U.K. publication The Daily Express, U.K. tourists visiting the city took to the streets after England's win last week, attacking police officers who intervened in the mayhem. The English complained that the police were heavy-handed, and that there was nothing untoward about their "celebrations". But the Spanish deployed their riot police and reportedly had to push back angry hordes of English visitors. One hotel booking agency reportedly said they looked forward to the end of the World Cup so that "tourists of higher quality" would visit the country.
- A video showing an English football fan celebrating the team's victory over Colombia by dancing naked in a venue in Dubai while drinking caused the U.K. embassy in Abu Dhabi to warn Britons living within the majority-Muslim nation's borders to behave themselves. According to Arabian Business, the embassy issued this notice ahead of the England/Croatia game:
"We at the British embassy in the UAE have been enjoying this year's World Cup, particularly the fantastic run that the England team are enjoying. Wherever you're enjoying the football, ensure that you are aware of and respecting the local laws and customs." Police in Dubai were reportedly investigating the video, and the man who danced naked reportedly fled the country.
- English fans even caused a political storm on Twitter, when the secretary-general of the European Commission, Martin Selmayr, posted what to the rest of the world probably seemed like an innocuous tweet with football and E.U. flag emojis, after the English lost to Croatia. According to some reports, this could have been a reference to the French and Croatian team's victories — both E.U. countries.
⚽️🇪🇺⚽️🇪🇺⚽️🇪🇺⚽️🇪🇺⚽️🇪🇺⚽️🇪🇺⚽️🇪🇺⚽️🇪🇺⚽️— Martin Selmayr (@MartinSelmayr) July 11, 2018
But English fans took it personally, interpreting the tweet as a dig at their country's decision to leave the E.U.
According to the Daily Mail, fans responded with comments like:
'Absolutely pathetic — you are the lowest of the low,'
'This is one way to alienate pro European British people like me — you are a disgrace.'
'A disgraceful tweet that absolutely epitomises why the U.K. is leaving the E.U."
'You deserve credit for exemplifying the sheer arrogance of unelected bureaucrats so well!'
'Class is something you are born with. Is it any wonder most Brits voted to say goodbye to the E.U. with people like you helping to run it and showing absolutely no class whatsoever.'
- Not even ambulances are safe when English fans are around. According to British paper The Sun, fans attacked an ambulance on its way to respond to an emergency after the England/Sweden game. Fans dented the bonnet and smashed the windows of the vehicle, and a woman was seen climbing on top of the damaged vehicle while fans crowded around her, hitting the bonnet and laughing. The Millwall Supporters' Club started a crowdfunding campaign to repair the vehicle.
- Property damage seems to be a regular occurrence. A video circulated this week showing English fans trashing a store belonging to Swedish chain store group Ikea after the Sweden game, singing "It's coming home". It is not exactly clear where the store is located. The video was posted on several Australian websites.
- English fans are so famously problematic that the U.K.'s Home Office even has a Football Banning Orders Authority, which banned 1,312 fans from going to Russia to watch the World Cup, according to The Independent. The individuals were ordered to hand over their passports to the police. These banning orders reportedly last up to 10 years in some cases, and breaching one is a criminal offence.