Going to see a football match at Old Trafford, Goodison Park, Stamford Bridge or any other ground in the Premier League is a far different experience than what happened 20 years ago. No more terracing. No violence between the opposing sets of fans, and no more cheap tickets that would allow a larger percentage of kids or mischiefs to attend.
Visiting a Premier League ground for a match these days is such a sterile experience. Assigned seating on a piece of plastic. And you’re very unlikely to become the victim of hatred from opposing fans. The worst you’ll probably hear is a chant of “Same old [insert team name], always cheating.”
The fact is that you’ll experience more vitriol and anger online via football websites, blogs and forums than you will in a Premiership ground. Football fans are more likely to say and write things online that they would never dare utter at a football stadium.
A lot of this is due to the anonymity that fans feel online while the real football ground experience is guarded by stewards, police and fellow fans who can report inappropriate behavior.
The other argument is that most football fans, especially if they’re younger, can’t afford to buy tickets to matches so they end up congregating online and venting their anger there.
So the next time you read some hatred against football teams or players online, you’re experiencing the 21st century version of football hooliganism in the Premier League – from the safety of your own living room.