Football-related arrests rose nearly 60% last season compared to the last full year before the pandemic, official figures reveal.
Data from the Home Office, which seems to confirm concerns about an increase in game disorder in England and Wales, show that 2,198 arrests were made in the 2021-22, 59% more than in the 2018-19 season.
The number of pitch invasions increased by 127% to 441 incidents, while the number of hate crimes rose to 384, a 99% increase.
England internationals Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier both recently said the treatment of fans and bad behavior among a minority have kept their families from attending matches.
The data shows that incidents were reported in 1,609 of 3,019 matches played over the course of the past season, representing 53% of all matches.
The most commonly reported type of incident was the illegal use of pyrotechnics, with 729 matches reporting incidents, while 561 incidents involved the throwing of rockets, the data shows. Another 444 incidents related to public order or antisocial behaviour.
Of the 2,198 football-related arrests reported last year, just over a third were for public order (36%), while a fifth (20%) for violent disturbances.
There has been a downward trend in football-related arrests since the 2010-2011 football season, the Department of the Interior noted — a drop of more than half (-55%) from 3,089 in the 2010-2011 season to 1,381 in the 2018- 2019 season.
In the 2020-2021 season, 93% of the matches were played without spectators and 7% were played at various reduced capacities. The 2019-2020 season was also affected by Covid-19 from March 2020, with 11% of matches being cancelled.
Liverpool captain Henderson said this week he was concerned about his family’s attendance at games after his wife and daughters had to escape the crowd through a side door during England’s defeat to Italy last summer. He also said his father was “ready” to go to games after beating Liverpool fans in Paris during the Champions League final.
Thanks to new measures announced in July by the Premier League, EFL and Football Association, England fans could be banned if they break into fields or are found wearing “pyro” – a nickname for fireworks or torches.
There were multiple scenes of disarray, including field invasions in May at the height of the season, resulting in attacks on players.
Mark Roberts, Cheshire chief and chief of football police at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said crime has risen at football matches across the country – from the Premier League to the National League.
“Anyone who commits a crime, outside or inside a football field, can expect the consequences of their actions. The increase in arrests shows that the police are taking positive action and working closely with the CPS,” he said.