With China already in full pandemic mode, and the population already used to live inside a massive dimensioned crisis, Europe starts giving some serious thoughts about the imminent problem. Towards the end of the month we will see how some European countries already started some limitations never saw before, even if slight ones compared to nowadays condition. From China, Europe still receives bad news constantly: even though quarantine has already been confirmed as the best precaution, the main news about government management are still confused and fragmentary. On 6th of February we find the death, due to uncertain causes, of one of the first and most influent doctor to call and declare the presence of a new virus coming from a laboratory: Li Wenliang death causes more discontent between the citizens, now very doubtful about the true origin of Covid-19. However, during the same weekend China register the first stats decrease as for number of new contagions, an info which kind of calm down most of the population. Meanwhile however, the independent state of Hong Kong becomes the first one to introduce legislative penalties in case of lack of respect of the lockdown standards. 19th of February will later become a turning point for what concerns most hit European countries, and we could finally find an easy link also with the ultras world. The Champions League match between Atalanta and Valencia, two clubs coming from two of the most hit areas in the whole world, regularly takes part, in front of a full public of around 50.000 spectators in the San Siro stadium, based in Milano and used by Atalanta for European competitions. Later on, that match will be revealed as a true pandemic-bomb, with doctors from northern Italy explaining some incredible stats on the later weeks, about strange fevers and respiratory difficulties between young men. Only one day before Italy officially confirms their first patience hit by Covid-19, based in Lodi, around 50kms away from both Bergamo and Milano. In less than five days Italy becomes the third most hit country in the world, and the government immediately run for cover, deleting historical shows such as the Venice Carnival, and sports events too in the red zone of the nation; we then find ourselves in front of the first step that will bring us to the decline of the ultras movement, with Italy, such a big country in the tifo world, hardly hit by the virus. Lodi quickly becomes a “red zone”, just before many other areas, immediately later. Towards the end of the month, some studies show how 60% from a sample of new contagions in the whole Europe, would have admitted to have travelled in northern Italy in the previous month. A frightening number, which further charges of mystery and doubts Italy, and the true time start of Covid-19.
Below, our chosen five January actions, in chronological order.
Inter vs Milan, Serie A, 09-02-2020, Milano
A choreo taking place in San Siro, during a derby between Inter and Milan, would probably find its way through our shortlist prior to more reasons. However in this case we also have a valid sake for the most skeptical ones. The following limitations which brought Serie A to be suspended more than once, and with the few matches left being played behind closed doors, makes this wonderful choreo created by the milanesi fan, the last one up to today. San Siro didn’t have such an occasion to shine again like that last night, and we’re talking about a stadium used to assist to the ultras history during many decades, both Italian and international. Inter, home club this round, covers all the three rings at their disposal with a massive choreo reminding the history of Milano, joking about a previous Milan choreo, and defending the black and blue colors. On the southern side, a double choreo from Milan ultras, with the typical Milano irony mixed with a light show, everything with the purpose to denigrate the city rivals of Inter. A Giuseppe Meazza stadium with its best dress on, no better way to leave the Italian ultras scene and their typical and famous choreos. We still believe that those frozen months of wait and patience will give the time to the maker of such shows to bring the rod even further and higher, so be ready for other legendary scenarios from both Curva Nord and Curva Sud, alongside the infinite number more of Italian fanbases.
Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint Germain, Champions League, 18-02-2020, Dortmund
The always spectacular BvB fans already had a couple more actions to possibly be featured in our February top 5, but they officially get their ticket to ride in this match against PSG. Even though we’re used to see the black and yellow army in even better versions than this one, the clash against the French side ends up in our shortlist because we’re talking about an international match. We’re in the second half of February, and even without knowing it, very close to the top of the pandemic, which will be out of control in few weeks. However, unaware of what was going to happen, we were all excited about every away match, and even more for an European away match. And consider to involve two tifo-city such as Dortmund and Paris: perfection! A Signal Iduna Park set on fire for a match which will see its second leg being played in Paris, behind closed doors. This shows how close we were to the verge of the disaster, and close to the end of a freedom which we’ve always took for granted. Unfortunately until that moment all the away matches were part of a usual procedure, and the away end was 100% full with PSG fan, a move which surely didn’t help the limitation of Covid-19 spread. Even if badly hit, our hope is to come back to this normality, which now seems far away.
FC København vs Celtic, Europa League, 20-02-2020, Copenhagen
A similar talk to the previous action between BvB and PSG, the one which fits for the match between FC København and Celtic. Only two days later the German show, few km’s further north, the guys from Sektion 12 give life to a show which involve the whole Parken stadium. FCK and Celtic are well used to meet each other in European matches, and the game has become a good chance to put to test both fanbases, between first and second leg, home and away, to see the hottest and better one. Between Danes and Scottish there seems to be a good relationship, respectful, despite on the pitch we’re used to see true war due to a very hard styled football from both sides. This match too was a good excuse to renew and newly sign some deals between the fanbases, in a hot atmosphere, and with a full away end which also sent appreciations through social medias for the Danish treatment. We’re at the end of February, but Covid-19 still appears as the last thoughts for millions of people, with thousands of them involved on the stands of whole Europe, as during this cold Thursday Copenhagen night, heated up by chants and beers.
HSV vs St. Pauli, 2. Bundesliga, 22-02-2020, Hamburg
The city of Hamburg always showed to deserve the first tier in the biggest European ultras cities. Unfortunately, true football didn’t reserve many satisfactions to both sides of the city, with St. Pauli constantly bogged down in the lower divisions of German football, and HSV coming from an historical relegation, and yet to find their way back to Bundesliga. Despite all of this, the images we could see coming from this derby show an unconditional love from both fanbases: a totally full stadium, a full away sector, and many choreos with the colours of the two club. Tifo wise we would be buzzing to see both HSV and St. Pauli (a club famous for their strong socio-politics ideologies) back in Bundesliga. The truth puts those factions in the second division, and the sold out event show how in February we were yet to close any kind of sport meeting, back down till amateurish levels. We strongly hope to see fans coming back to stadiums with paired criteria, on every level of every sport, in order to give new life to many small realities which still depend on the true presence of fans.
Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray, Super Lig, 23-02-2020, Istanbul
We’re at the end of a month where we saw few news about tifo in very few countries, and for sure Turkey is not one of the most hit nations, up to now, and uses its best speciality to take the scene, ultras wise: it’s time for the Istanbul derby, this time between Feberbahce and Galatasaray. For the first time through this shortlist, the main reason of our choice is only inside the dimension of the clash, and the tifo atmosphere, Turks in this particoular case. Home fans propose an interactive choreo, moved through ropes and the work of some guys on the hottest areas of the stadium. The choreo reminds a scenario used by Galatasaray few months before, a controversial one, which we analyzed during our previous serie Inside the Choreo. Galatasaray used to hoist the figure of Rocky Balboa on their tifo sector, ready to fight, and later identified as a Erdogan oppositor, bringing the club to suffer fines and penalties. Fenerbahce instead, shows Balboa while punched in the face by another boxeur, with yellow and blue shorts: a classic tifo provocations, in the frame of a fiery stadium!