An online game in which players become football hooligans has Welsh fans up in arms over claims that it encourages real-life violence between soccer fans.
Little Hooliganz lets players choose their team, buy booze and weapons and commit violence against supporters of rival clubs. Gamers compete to "become the most notorious, respected and meanest Hooligan the world has ever known," eventually rising to become "King of the hooligans." But the Welsh Football Association, fans and anti-violence groups have condemned the game, saying that hooliganism is something to be eradicated, not celebrated.
"We are totally opposed to anything which glamorizes any form of violent behavior associated with football," said Football Supporters' Federation Chairman Malcolm Clarke. "It is totally irresponsible to be encouraging even cyber-violence among fans at any time, let alone ahead of derby matches. We would hope that genuine football fans and children would not play this game."
"We have had a hooligan problem for the last 25 years but things have improved remarkably over recent years," added Vince Alm of the Cardiff City Supporters' Club. "However, there is still a lot of work to be done as new generations of Asbo troublemakers come through and these games do not help us at all. It is just someone else trying to make a quick buck out of violence in a computer game. It is in very bad taste and sends out a very poor message."
But Nicolas Jacquart, director of Blouzar, the company behind the game, described Little Hooliganz as "parody" of hooliganism and denied that the game encourages trouble. "I think players can make the distinction between online hooligans and real-life thugs," he said. "Just because we are giving Cardiff and Swansea fans the chance to buy a gun, sword, baseball bat or knuckleduster and attack their rivals doesn't mean they are going to do it in real life."
Despite the subject matter, GameCulture says Little Hooliganz isn't a "simple Flash one-off" but is instead a "fairly deep affair" with a black sense of humor. And while anger over the game surged in the buildup to the April 6 showdown between Cardiff and Swansea, billed as "the biggest Welsh football derby in history," Little Hooliganz actually lets players align themselves with a wide variety of teams from various nations.
(For the record, the match between Cardiff and Swansea ended in a 2-2 draw; referee Mike Dean was injured when a thrown ₤1 coin struck him in the head and "running battles" were reported outside the stadium following the game. Given the history of soccer in the U.K. I think it's safe to say that while Little Hooliganz may be tasteless, its actual role in instigating the fracas is entirely imaginary.)
Source: Wales Online