Hooliganism can be defined as wanton destruction of property or injury to persons, sometimes involving theft, whether by a gang or a small group of (usually) young people. Injury to persons may vary from gang rape to assault on unsuspecting individuals (often old people) or inter-gang warfare. Hooliganism is characterized as a lack of self-control, love of malicious mischief, indifference to the comfort of suffering of others, idleness passing into dishonesty and crime, horseplay passing into violence. It may be expressed through petty rudeness. In areas characterized by hooliganism or yobbery, fear of attach prevents people from going out. When they do they are met by litter, graffiti and a brutal lack of consideration.
Between about 1914 and 1950, the level of violence and other forms of anti-social behaviour in industrialized countries was abnormally low. Though unproven, this lull may well have resulted from the terrible blood-letting of the world wars. When wars occur, they provide an excellent outlet for the aggressive of young men. Football hooligans would be praised as heroes on any battlefield. In peace it is harder to find any excuse for fighting of which society would approve.
In the former USSR, hooliganism was a catch-all crime that in 1993 was still being used to charge people within the independent republics.
Spirited youth craves risk, excitement, danger. It cannot find fulfilment by polishing shoes and passing accountancy exams, but few alternatives are available. The more violent sports have traditionally been one way to work out aggression, but respectable society dislikes such recreations almost as much as war. The idea that the rude, violent streak in any culture can be removed is however a delusion. Throughout history it finds better and worse expressions, but it does not disappear.