In May of 2018, approximately 50 people entered Sporting Lisbon’s training centre in Lisbon, Portugal and violently attacked both the players and staff. The attackers, who have been identified as “fans”, had their faces covered, and displayed acts of violence during Sporting’s practice and also caused damage to their changing room. While no one was severely hurt, the team’s forward, Bas Dost, suffered some cuts to his head and legs. This attack came a week after the team missed out on a Championship League place, and days before the team’s game in the Portuguese Cup Final. The Sporting Football Club, along with many of the citizens of Portugal, were left wondering why the team’s fans would commit such a violent act.
Acts of “hooliganism” in soccer have occurred for a number of years and seem to occur as fans go through a transitional state in which they feel they are loosing their identity. Groups of hooligans, particularly in soccer, attempt to make both political and non-political claims, taking advantage of the number of people both in the crowd, and aware through media. Findings have also found that soccer fans are motivated by strong identities, identifying themselves with player and specific teams. As for why these particular hooligans attacked the Sporting Team, theories supporting the idea that fans embody the behaviour and energy seen on the field are strong. Braun and Vliegenthart assert that soccer players’ aggression on the pitch has a positive effect on the occurrence of supporters’ violence. Acts of hooliganism can, therefore, be connected to conflict theory: this group of fans are a combination of disenfranchised working class men, participating in riots to express their ignored self and harness both emotions and excitement.