British football crowds have always been known for their banter towards players, managers and opposing fans. Football terraces have traditionally been places to let off steam and behave in a way that would not be acceptable in other public spaces. Creating a hostile atmosphere often helps give your team the edge in a close encounter.
Recently, though, some worry things have gone too far. They say the level and personal nature of the abuse is worse than in previous times, and that something needs to be done.
The unpleasant invective directed by some Colchester United fans towards Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder, who had suffered a brain tumour, is a case in point. And while racist chanting is largely a thing of the past, the continued sectarian chanting between Rangers and Celtic fans in Scotland is seen by many as typical of the backwardness of football fans.
Is the problem of abuse in football getting out of hand, or are the recipients just becoming thin-skinned? Was the traditional terrace culture somehow more civilised, with banter infused with a dose of humour, however cruel? Or is this a nostalgic view, overlooking the menace of hooliganism and racism?
Some argue all-seater stadiums and 'family-friendly' policies have turned the atmospheric stadiums of old into sanitised theatres with intensive surveillance and stewarding. At the same time, some fans have become so obsessed with football, even living their lives through it, that they no longer know where to draw the line. Do we take football, and ourselves, too seriously?- Battle of Ideas
Duleep Allirajah is sports columnist for spiked. He co-founded the Libero! network which campaigned against the increasing regulation of football fan conduct.
Allirajah has written on a wide range of social and cultural issues as seen through the prism of sport including racism and national identity, violence on and off the field, sportsmen as role models, and the commercialisation of football. He is a season ticket holder at Crystal Palace and hates public weeping at football, the wearing of jester's hats and open-top bus parades for runners-up.
Whilst studying History at Exeter University Collins became the Student Sports Officer.
From University Collins then organised a great deal of Skateboarding for the Youth service before joining Sport England for ten years. The high spots were working at two Paralympic Games and with British Cycling on the construction of the Manchester Velodrome - which has contributed to so much Olympic success.
Returning to England, Collins left Sport England for the Football Association and have worked within the development department on various projects to introduce people to the great game. My most recent appointment is to promote the FA's Respect programme, the aim of which is to address the culture of verbal and physical abuse towards referees and by pushy parents & coaches towards children.
Tony Evans was born in Liverpool and came to journalism late, starting his career in newspapers aged 29. He spent his 20s playing in bands and following Liverpool across Britain and Europe.
After the Hillsborough disaster, he went to live in California, where he began working on local papers. After returning to Britain in the mid-90s, he became editor of First Down, an American football weekly publication, and later edited Football Monthly.
Evans began his national newspaper career as a casual sub-editor on The Sunday Times, before joining The Times in 2003. Two years later he was appointed Deputy Football Editor and became Football Editor this year. He has no formal training in journalism.
His book, Far Foreign Land, details his five-day journey by train to Istanbul for the European Cup final in 2005, placing the experience in context by recalling similar trips in the 1980s and revisiting some dark places such as Heysel and Hillsborough.
Geoff Kidder is Head of Membership and Events at the Institute of Ideas. The associate membership scheme was set up in May 2002, and we now have associates throughout the UK and around the world.
Kidder also convenes the monthly IoI Book Club, and supervises the IoI's administration and event management. Kidder is also the Institute of Ideas' resident expert in all sporting matters and covered the Beijing Olympics for Culture Wars.
Peter Marsh is a Chartered Psychologist and Co-director of The Social Issues Research Centre. He studied at Ruskin College Oxford, where he obtained a Diploma in Social Studies, and subsequently at University College, Oxford where he gained his degree and doctorate in psychology.
Marsh is still known for his early work on football hooliganism, conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His first book, Rules of Disorder, published in 1978, is still a set text on the subject. His most recent book, co-authoured with Steve Frosdick and published in 2005, is Football Hooliganism.