It is undoubtedly positive news that no British fans were arrested at the World Cup in Qatar 2022 for the first time. This reflects a change in attitudes among British supporters, who have primarily reformed their behavior following several high-profile incidents over the past few years.
The UK’s football policing lead attributes this achievement to a combination of factors, including increased cooperation between police forces and better intelligence-sharing arrangements.
Mark Roberts, the chief constable of the Cheshire Police Force, has stated that this is the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup that no British fans were arrested. This speaks volumes about how much progress has been made regarding fan behavior in recent years.
“The behavior of England and Wales out in Qatar was absolutely exemplary,” Robert said. “Throughout the home nation’s involvement in the tournament there were no arrests or incidents to report, which is a credit to all those who travelled.
“In Russia 2018, there were three arrests, but having two teams in this tournament, we played double the group-stage games, including a home nations derby, which underlines the excellent nature of our fans.
This change can be partly attributed to police forces working closely with clubs and authorities organizing travel packages to ensure that risks are minimized as much as possible.
“I would also like to praise all the UK officers who traveled out to Qatar for the work they have done in helping to keep British nationals safe during the past four weeks.
It is also likely due to a shift in attitude among fans, who now understand that they need to behave responsibly if they want their country’s team to do well on the world stage.
“Traditionally we do have few arrests of our fans at World Cups, but to have zero isn’t something we have seen before.”
What was different about this World Cup after having fans arrested at every previous edition? What might that be?
There are a few potential explanations for why there were no British arrests during the 2022 World Cup. One possibility is that stricter security measures were put in place, which made it more difficult for fans to engage in disruptive behavior.
It’s also possible that authorities took a stricter stance against soccer hooligans before the tournament, and as such, they were better able to prevent incidents from happening.
It’s also important to remember that this was the first World Cup in which alcohol wasn’t sold on the premises, which may have contributed to decreased violence. It’s tough to pin down precisely what changed British fans’ behavior, but a combination of things probably came into play.
In Qatar, alcohol is typically exclusively accessible at authorized hotel bars, restaurants, and pubs. The nation made an exemption for the FIFA World Cup and permitted alcohol at the official fan festival and inside the stadium perimeter before and after games.
Alcohol will not be allowed inside stadiums during the games, which may contribute to this. Roberts was willing to suggest that there might be a relationship, even if he did not accept that this was the leading cause for the lack of arrests.
“It would be wrong to entirely attribute this excellent behavior to the restrictions on alcohol in Qatar, but I do think it has helped to some degree,” Robert said. (Vertelney, 2022)