Monday, March 06, 2006

Russian Soccer Casuals: Wot no boover boots?

Soccer was long the minority sport Downunder but now thanks to clever marketing and an overall improvement in soccer performances, the beautiful game has taken its rightful place over AFL, Rugby League and the leather patch, Rugby Union. The Wog Game (Australian derogatory term for Mid Mediterranean Europeans) has had its share of hard times over the years so it is superb to see Australian soccer back in contention for qualification for the FIFA World Cup Russia TM in 2018.

The Green and Gold will enter the competition with only one person on their mind, the late Johnny Warren , who worked tirelessly to encourage soccer to become a major football code in Australia . The Socceroos have a loyal following and like the Scotand's Tartan Army are well behaved fans who not only enjoy themselves on tour but also act as ambassadors for the game and their country.

The same cannot always be said about other supporters who follow the game. In Russia the Russian boover boys terrorise the terraces as the Soviet football thugs mirror the English hooligans or yesteryear. Hoodies in expensive loafers have replaced the stereotypical yobo in Doc Martens.

Russian football hooligans (soker kezhuali) are the new soccer casual dressed in Lacoste T-shirts and Burberry caps. Internet cafes are a buzz with net chatting casuals like the Spartak Moscow s crews: Flint's Crew ; the young "Mad Butchers"; West End, Gladiators; and the Clock Work Oranges and their rival CSKA Moscow's Red-blue Warriors (RBW) and Urban Kids. Other city crews include St Peterburg's Nevsky Front and Zenit. These are the new hardcore 'firms' echoing the behaviours of the Chelsea's Headhunters and Inter City Firm (ICF) .

Names like the TsSKA firm, and the Red and Blue Warriors emulate the English bad boy supporters and are very well organised boasting of consultation with established groups and hooligan consultants. Pirate copies of The Firm , The Football Factory , and Green Street Hooligans , all about hooliganism, and books such as Everywhere We Go: Behind the Matchday Madness by Dougie and Eddie Brimson,sell well.

Happy slapping is a major feature of the new order with gangs agreed before matches by phone. Rumbles are filmed for later analysis. Engagements usually take place without weaponry and firms are banned from wearing boover boots after reports of serious injuries.

The soker kezhuali fashion advice from belle figures of casual fashions with Stone Island, Lacoste and Dima and 21 overtaking the more conventional Aquascutum, and Fred Perry gear. Authentic gear is vital with real casuals avoiding fake brands as bling and chavs are considered uncool. The first time foreigners became aware of Russian hooligans was in 2002, when fans rioted in Moscow, burning cars and fighting police after the national team lost to Japan in the World Cup. Police have struggled to contain the growth of hooliganism.

Further Reading
Warren J (2003) Sheilas , wogs and poofters Random House Australia

Reviewed 12/12/2016

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