Violent and antisocial behaviour at football matches in the Middle East and North Africa

Scoping the evidence

by Madeline Nightingale, Lucy Strang, Emma Disley, Mohyi Maziad

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السلوكيات العنيفة والمعادية للمجتمع في مباريات كرة القدم في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا: فحص الأدلة

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Research Questions

  1. What violent and antisocial behaviour takes place at football events in the MENA region and what factors are associated with such behaviour?
  2. What approaches have been taken to prevent and respond to violent and antisocial behaviour at football events in the MENA region and to what extent have these approaches proved effective?
  3. What gaps are there in the literature and how might the evidence base be improved, particularly with regard to informing the organisation of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

The objective of this case study is to gather and critically assess the evidence on violent and antisocial behaviour at football events (also referred to as football violence) in the MENA region, as well as strategies to prevent and reduce the occurrence of these behaviours. In the context of this study, we refer to any type of violent and antisocial behaviour associated with football events in the MENA region, including both verbal and physical aggression, and acts of violence involving players and referees as well as spectators. The review focuses on all football events, including professional, non-professional, domestic and international fixtures.

Key Findings

Violent and antisocial behaviour at football events is a phenomenon that has been observed in many parts of the world. However, there is a lack of research summarising and evaluating the evidence in this area in relation to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

A lack of high-quality research makes it difficult to establish an evidence-based strategy for the 2022 World Cup. More specifically:

  • There is a lack of evidence relating to violent and antisocial behaviour at football events in Qatar. Without further research, it is unclear how far, if at all, the findings relating to other countries in the MENA region can be extended to Qatar.
  • The applicability of the existing evidence to the 2022 World Cup is also limited in the sense that the majority of sources identified as part of this review focused on domestic rather than international football matches.
  • There is a lack of evidence on the impact and effectiveness of strategies designed to prevent and reduce violent and antisocial behaviour at football matches in the MENA region.

To strengthen the evidence base in the run-up to 2022, the review highlights the need for additional research in these areas. This presents an opportunity for researchers in Qatar to contribute to inform the organisation of the 2022 World Cup.

Recommendations

  • This case study has identified a number of potential directions for future research, including generating data on the prevalence of violent and antisocial behaviour at football events in the region, strengthening the evidence base with regards to who is involved in football violence and the factors driving this behaviour, and conducting evaluations of strategies used to prevent and reduce the occurrence of football violence in the MENA region.
  • Such research activities could not only provide a valuable contribution to the evidence base in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, but also shed light on the safety of football events in Qatar specifically and international football events in the region more generally.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was commissioned by Qatar University and conducted by RAND Europe.

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