Best from the Stands” is the serie which shows you monthly all the finest moments happened in the global ultras scene. Ultrasbible believes that being an ultras is an art, and on art we decided to lean on for our project. With the partnership of the young illustrator Giuseppe Bonardi, we analyze one of his new artwork containing all of the best shots of last month, in our own style!

The second episode of our serie gathers our choices of the best ultras scenes in September. All the first leagues of the main football countries have come back to normal schedules, with most federations able to assure high percentages of fans inside the stadiums, bringing towards new great athmospheres which we missed for more than a year. Once again Europe takes the totality of the scenes of our five choices for the month, but differently from August’s episode this time we won’t find only choreos, but other occasions where ultras groups gave their best to shine brighter than usual. Let’s see the best from the month just passed with our new episode of Best from the Stands!

ARSENAL TULA vs CSKA MOSCOW, 12-09-2021, from Moscow to Tula – HOT AIR BALLOON

As soon as we saw what these CSKA Moscow guys managed to organize we directly thought to put this into our monthly Best from the Stands, regardless of what will happen during the remaining days. CSKA’s fanbase already showed up with original away days with scooters, very long walks or cycling, but we’d never expected to see them travelling in a hot air balloon, moreover well decorated with the club’s colours, and inside a blanket of smoke coming from the red and blue pyro who accompanied them troughout the whole journey. The fans obviously didn’t fly for the whole distance between Moscow and Tula (where their away game took place), but they met in the close countriside of the host city to take off for about an hour, flying over the stadium and the city center, for a total cost of around a thousand euros. What will they arrange for the next trip?

SLAVIA PRAGUE vs UNION BERLIN, 16-09-2021, Edén Arena, HULK

A nice cinematographic reference coming from the Slavia shore of Prague‘s ultras scene. We’ve already seen plenty of choreos where the red and white showed their skill, and this time they’ve also achieved a decent visibility, displaying it during the Conference League match against Union Berlin (which were also very fizzy on the stands during their first ever European cups’ match). The whole stand deplicted a cloth with the figure of Hulk, painted him in their colours created a worthy athmosphere, adding a banner covering all the low side of their sector with the phrase “Slavia always… always angry!“, and fans on the upper side waving double coloured flags to give movement to the whole set. Apart from the obvious reference to the strong figure of Marvel’s superhero, there aren’t apparently any other reasons why the Czech guys picked Hulk, or felt represented under his banner. But the result speaks for itself, and their team has also been able to achieve good results in European football during the last years. A proper way from the fanbase to urge their team towards new goals!

ZELJEZNICAR, 19-09-2021, Sarajevo, CLUB’S 100th ANNIVERSARY

Zeljeznicar Sarajevo is one of the biggest clubs in Bosnia and of all the Jugoslavian history, and their 100th birthday – celebrated on 19th September – left us some unbelieveable scenes. Despite Bosnia can’t really vaunt a winning tradition in football, their ultras scene has always been up there with the very bests at a European level, with cities such as the capital Sarajevo, Mostar or Banja Luka opening the way for the whole country. Their main ultras group, The Maniacs, supported by many other smaller groups such as Joint Union, Blue Tigers, Vendetta and so on litterally lighted the capital on fire with an immense pyroshow; covering the whole area between the stadium and the city center with flares, fireworks and moving corteos. We’re pretty sure the city didn’t sleep for the whole night, and our artist Beppe was able to well represent their party, fitting them in our September’s Best from the Stands. Happy birthday FK Zeljeznicar!

FC COPENHAGEN vs MIDTJYLLAND – 19-09-2021, Parken, SEKTION 12 15th ANNIVERSARY

Copenhagen is one of the hottest cities when it comes to nordic Europe’s general ultras scene, and this set by Sektion 12 is nothing more than a well appreciated confirmation. The group leading FC Kobenhavn’s tifo turned 15 last month, and we can definitly say they’ve come a long way. Despite not having an ancient tradition in Danish football’s roots – the club borned in 1992 from the alliance of the older clubs B 1903 and KB – their fanscene had remarkably grown during the past years, becoming one of the biggest ones in Scandinavia. These results come from a constant development and interactions between the club and their ultrasgroup, and together they were able to connect all the fans under the same big logo of S12, a certainty for quality and quantity of the scenes since more than a decade. A famous Boca Juniors‘ motto says “La Bombonera no tiembla, late” (=”our home stadium doesn’t shake, it beats”), and with such scenes we think this stands could say the same (and be very proud of it!).

ST. GALLEN vs BASEL, 22-09-2021, Kybunpark, ALBUS SILENTE

Another reference to another very famous cinematic saga directly from St. Gallen, Switzerland! Following the similar idea coming from Prague which we talked about earlier, they decided to pick Harry Potter‘s character of Severus Pitos ahead of the classic match against Basel. Both sides are two of the most historical clubs in the country, and this fixture isn’t new to gift us with memorable moments, such as this last one. With the famous catchphrase “After all this time? Always!” coming from the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and a dialogue between Severus and Albus Silente, St. Gallen gave credit to their rivarly against Basel, being used to play in the first division against each other for several years now. We might also be tempted to wish for a new episode of the famous saga, if other choreos like this one will follow.

 

Best from the Stands” is the serie which shows you monthly all the finest moments happened in the global ultras scene. Ultrasbible believes that being an ultras is an art, and on art we decided to lean on for our project. With the partnership of the young illustrator Giuseppe Bonardi, we analyze one of his new artwork containing all of the best shots of last month, in our own style!

For lots of countries, August meant the return of fans in the stadiums, following the examples we’ve seen during the continental cups during the summer. Together with the start of the new clubs’ season, we decided to introduce our new series and accompany you within the best moments from the stands of the whole world, back to be packed full after the restrictions due to Covid-19 pandemic. Europe obviously mastered the scene, with highlights on both league matches, and European Cups qualification fixtures. We all know most of European ultras had to wait for more than a year before coming back to life, so let’s see what they have to tell us, analyzing our choices for Best from the Stands – August 2021!

DINAMO BUCHAREST vs FCSB, 15-08-2021, Arena Nationala – ERROR 404

Rapid Bucharest add themselves to the clubs from Romania capital city to mock the rests of the what was called Steaua Bucharest. Small premise, traditional Steaua Bucharest closed gates in 2014, and in Liga I (Romanian first division) remained a surrogate version of the historical club, re-called FCSB. The club kept most of the best players, but lost the company name, the historical brand and the whole palmarès, which all ended up in fourth division, in a club which splitting up kept the usual name “Steaua”. The oldest and biggest ultras groups followed the remains of old Steaua Bucharest in the low divisions, leaving FCSB without any hard core group inside the ultras world. For this reason the citizien rivals (Rapid and Dinamo) never lose a chance to make fun of their opponents. This time was Rapid’s round, and they created a choreo that goes back to the famous web error 404; “sorry, but we don’t find any interest in being rival with you!” Very often snobbing your rival is a great psychological tactic, and Rapid’s groups surely accomplished that in this first derby of the season.

TWENTE vs AJAX, 22-08-2021, De Grolsch Veste – VAK P CIRCUS

Twente recurs at home with the big match against Ajax, probably presenting the best choreo of the month, and an inspiration for Beppe, our illustrator. De Grolsch Veste stands saw themselves coloured by the historical group Vak-P, as a painting representing a circus of horrors. That’s how the fanbase wanted to contextualize their stadium, a strategy which looks effective looking at the nice 1-1 draw they’ve earned against the strongest club in the Netherlands. With a clear reference of the the clown within the horror imagery and fiction (made famous by the movie It), the Dutch fans set up a huge covering, creating a mega athmosphere for the entrance of the two teams on the pitch, precisely in this circus of horrors.

OGC NICE vs OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE, 23-08-2021, Allianz Riviera – ULTRAS GUERNICA

This Cote d’Azure derby surely left us with the most discussed episode of the month in the ultras world, the clash between players and ultras of Olympique Marseille and OGC Nice. As the Marseilles, as guests, were attacking towards the goal under the home curva, Nice ultras started throwing objects to them, leding Dimitri Payet to a reaction, throwing back the bottle to the home fans fiercest stands. His gesture was obviously saw as an insult by Nice fans, and within seconds, hundreds of them jumped into the pitch searching for the physical fight with OM players. Nice players and the guests fans apparently also agitated themselves, creating a collective chaos and some pictures of war and riot in a football stadium, comparable to Guernica by Pablo Picasso. This episode will surely leave a mark in the French ultras scene, with OGC Nice currently risking to lose the match at the table and incur penalties, while they already have a closed doors stadium until further notice.

BRONDBY IF vs RB SALZBURG, 25-08-2021, Brondby Stadion – PYROSHOW

Despite their team wasn’t able to win in the double fixture with RB Salzburg, Brondby fans gave their best at the return of an European playoff during their economical crisis era. While they’re struggling during these last years, Brondby traditionally represents an historical Danish club, and Sydsiden (their collective ultras group), didn’t loose the chance to protest against a modern club such as RB Salzburg, father of the most famous Leipzig-model, under the Red Bull brand. At the start of the match their hard core fans sector litterally took fire, with a pyroshow that for sure will remain in the memory of the fans of the genre. Nothing new, but once again the demonstration of how much boost Danish fans are always able to give their team, a feature which puts them on a high rank of the most warm fanbases.

LEGIA WARSAW vs SLAVIA PRAGUE, 26-08-2021, Pepsi Arena, DUCK REBUS

For years Legia Warsaw fanbase incurs into problems and clashes with UEFA because of their violent attitude on the stands, between riots, clear social stances and some critics to the organizers of the biggest European football competitions. UEFA is not new to suspend or fine the Polish fanbase because of some deprecative choreos or banners, to be added to the usual violent and hard core support, typical for all the big Polish ultras groups. This time though, Legia fans came up with a smart way of teasing their hated UEFA, creating a sort of rebus on their stands. A duck, where the letter F replaces letter D, resulting in the new words “F-uck UEFA“, a messagge which is at the same time clear and clever, but un-impeachable and impossible to use in some court to accuse the ultras base for fines or punishments. Have your managed to solve this Polish rebus already?

Last week all the UEFA European Cups’ group stages have been drawn, let’s analyze which fixtures will bring us new contents for the ultras world, here, on @ultrasbible!

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Group D, Shakhtar Donetsk – Sheriff Tiraspol

The fixture between Shakhtar and Sheriff, in a group where most of fooball fans will mainly focalize on the presence of Inter and Real Madrid, represents without a doubt the match with the most ultras premises and possibilities for some troubles in the whole groups stage of this season UEFA Champions League. Ukraine, and even more Moldova (or Transnistria, but we’ll get to this point in a second), are not famous for their big numbers of fanbases and ultras, but as we all know the whole eastern Europe becomes a cauldron as soon as there are possibilities for a fight. Transnistria cited above is an indipendent and autoproclaimed territory, and Tiraspol, city where Sheriff has its site, is its capital city. We can find the reason why this land is separated from the traditional idea of Moldova through society and politics, and since 1990 this region on the border with Ukraine asks for annexation to the Russian Federation. Even nowadays the Transnitrians people regret Soviet Union times, differently to most of the other countries born after 1991’s dissolution. On the other side, Ukraine being protagonist of recent frictions woth Russia, among the most famous the one involving the Crimea region, which still brings these days to a real war between the two countries. Specifically Shakhtar, club from Donetsk, a city which in 2014 suffered a bombing coming from the Russian army, also damaging the Donbass Arena, their new home stadium at that time, bringing the club to an exodus which see them playing in Kharkiv, Lviv, and eventually Kyev. This will be the first fixture between the two teams, but if UEFA tryied on one side to avoid matches between Russian and Ukranian clubs, they didn’t think about this eventuality which could bring inconveniences, alongside new contents coming from the two fanbases, ready for the war.

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE

Group C, Legia Warsaw – Spartak Moscow

Legia, historically a club established by the Polish army, surely has one of the hottest and most violent fanbases in the whole Europe. Spartak is not far behind, vaunting friendships such as the one with Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade, as a testimony of their social and political side, easily intuitable, socialist. Despite Legia having a difficult fanbase to generalize and label, recent manifestations showed a nationalist identity, giving space also to neo-fascist symbols and logos in their fiercest stands of the stadium. A Russian club from the left wing, against a right winged Polish side. If this doesn’t ring a bell in your head, we suggest a quick history review. You’ll be soon as excited as we are for this mega ultras clash!

Group D, Fenerbahce – Olympiakos

Fenerbahce managed to be one of the very fee Turkish clubs still not labelled with an ideology, and it’s often saw as “the people’s club”, where in both the board and the stands, democracy tends to prevail. Olympiakos presents itself as the “working class’ club” in Athens, not a far concept from the one used by Fenernahce. If a clash with opposite ideologies clubs such as Galatasaray or Besiktas might have been more appealing for an ultras clash, it’s also true that we can’t underestimate whatever match between Turks and Greeks. A tasty chance for other fanbases from Athens and Istanbul to use this bridge to meet, but not for a coffee! Keep your eyes peeled on this one.

Group E madness, Lazio, Galatasaray, Lokomotiv Moscow, Olympique Marseille

For each of the ultras world, reading the clubs belonging to this Europa League group and thinking about every single match, means cast gold. Lazio, club from Rome, Lokomotiv from Moscow, Galatasaray from Istanbul and OM from Marseille. If ultras would be divided in pots depending on their level such as happens for all the UEFA cups, we’re pretty sure all of those fanbases would belong to pot one, at the very least pot 2. Each match will be a chance to shine for every fanbase, confronting themselves with very worthy opponents, even though we don’t remind of violent clashes directly between these fanbases. Friendship between Olympique Marseille and Napoli will motivate Lazio to be ready for the big occasion, against “some friends of the enemies”, while Galatasaray and Lokomotiv will represent Turkey and Russia, in an historical time which sees the two countries creating new social, economical and political balances between themselves. It’s also going to be Rome against Istanbul, Western Roman Empire against Eastern Roman Empire, alongside Marseille vs Moscow, two of the cities where ultras culture is saw as a religion since decades. So fasten your seatbelts and follow us on @ultrasbible to don’t miss out on this Europa League group E madness!

Group G, Ferencvaros – Celtic

Celtic fanbase has recently showed itself as one of the most left winged side of the social world we recently withness on the stands. You surely remember the fights against Lazio (once again cited on this article) at Celtic Park a couple of seasons ago. Ferencvaros on the other side, following the route of most Hungarian ultras groups, travels in the opposite way aiming to a very clear right winged ideologies, and sometimes ending up even in neo-fascism moments. The two clubs already met last season, where the Covid-19 pandemic prevented them from reaching each other in the hosting city, and ward off any clash. Faith has decided to put the two teams against once again, when, without further news, the two fanbases will have the chance to meet. We really can’t wait to hear what they’ve got to tell.

UEFA CONFERENCE LEAGUE

Group C, Roma – CSKA Sofia

For the third time in this article Lazio becomes the protagonist, slipping also in their city rivals affairs of AS Roma. You’d ask what’s the link between CSKA and Roma, which stands precisely in the friendship between the white and blue side of the Italian capital city with Levski Sofia, in turn rivals of CSKA Sofia, of course. Lazio and Levski are bonded by a sociopolitical relationship which puts both clubs on an extreme right wing idelolgy since decades, and this will be a great chance for them to meet again, causing troubles with each others rivals, in either Rome or Sofia, giving birth to colourful clashes and wars. A typical Mexican stall situation, with 4 very big guns in the ultras world ready to face each others, moving up also the stands of the Conference League.

May opens up with the United Kingdom reaching 30k deaths, resulting one of the most hit countries in Europe. It seems clear that the number of contagions and victims is strictly connected with the hospital organisation in each countries; the nations which manage to assure prope cures to their patiences without previous pathologies can indeed keep their numbers under control. With the pharyngeal laryngeal swab getting much more accurate day after day, numbers raised in most of the countries, but Italy, already in lockdown since more than 50 days, starts creating a plan in order to open back the general activities in the whole nation: the general quarantine will finally end for Italians on the 18th of May. In the meantime, the USA starts accusing a big economical crisis, with more than 30mln citizens requesting for the national unemployment benefit, an astonishing number which in theory includes around 20% of the whole workforce in America. After a little time, a big social crisis will add to the already exsisting economical and hospital crisis, after many fierce demonstations in order to defend and ask for respect of black people lives. A very curious moment to enter such a heavy crisis, considering the WHO declarations about a study showing how black people are FOUR times more vulnerable to contract the virus, comparing to the Caucasian race. Alongside Italy, also France moves its first steps towards the new opening, while the government signs a deal with Germany to allocate 500mln for the rebirth of both countries. Also private industries such Google and Apple started accelerating the creation of apps in order to register a number of people positive to Coronavirus, while Pfizer finally finds a good track to prepare their vaccine. In the various ideas to limit the virus and challenge it, Colombia comes out with an idea as handy as macabre, which still gets you the idea of the gravity of the situation: hospital beds, convertible in coffins, after the death of the patience.

Below, our chosen five May actions, in chronological order.

AIK, tribute to former deceased GK, 02-05-2020, Stockholm

Ivan Turina is a former Croatian goalkeeper, deceased in May 2013 due to a congenital cardiovascular problem. Arrived in Sweden in 2009 after many experiences around Europe which brought him to also defend his national team goal once, he collected 65 total apps with AIK, always maintaining an wonderful relationship with both the club and the fanbase. His attitude brought him to be considered as one of the favourites of the fans and ultras, and his sudden death left a big scar on the hearts of all the fans of Stockholm’s suburb of Solna. During May 2020, in the occasion of the 7th anniversary since his death, and with the Allsveskans suspended due to Covid-19 outbreak, AIK ultras decided to gift to their favourite goalkeeper a big tribute, organizing a pyroshow oh huge dimensions. Since his death, the Swedish fans brought on a tradition of being completely silent during the 27th minute of each game, 27 as his former shirt number, followed by a long chant shouting his name. With no chances of respecting his memory during an actual game, we want to reward the Swedish ultras putting them into our shortlist for the big organization system and the spectacularity of their show!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_u-WuGA-Fe/

Torino FC, Grande Torino plane crash anniversary, 04-05-2020, Superga

Five Scudetti in a row during the ‘40s, as the first club to complete a winning cicle of such dimension in both the Italian and European scene. Alongside the Busby Babes and the more recent Chapecoense squad, also Grande Torino is unfortunately to be remembered as a club suffering from a plane creash. In italy, a veil of mysticism covers the men who lost their lifes on the mountain in which is located Superga santuary, in Piedmont region, on the 4th of May 1949; no one before them and as them was able to dominate the whole sport scene of a whole nation. Coming back from an away friendly match in Lisbona against Benfica, the faith put to an end the life of many players, giving birth to their legend. Since the birth of the ultras movement, Torino fans never missed a chance to remind their heroes, “only stopped by the sky”, as they like to say. In 2020, with Italy inside the biggest pandemic ever saw in recent history, the fans still managed to give homage to Grande Torino, without remarkable choreos or shows, but with gentleness and elegance.

 

de Graafschaap, graffiti art, 08-05-2020, Doetinchem

With the Dutch football federation passing through the hottest days of the season, deciding what to do with both Eredivisie and Eerstedivisie destiny, de Graafschaap fans had the nice thought of occuping their free time with useful activities for themselves and the whole club. Their stadium, de Vijverberg, was funded in 1954, but following a recent renovation at the start of the century, the installation still fits with Dutch standards, and doesn’t particularly need other innovations; however, why don’t give it a little bit of colour? And it was so that de Graafschaap ultras groups, strictly bonded with the Italian and South European ultras school, managed to show their consistency and raising money to buy materials for some graffiti art, ending up with covering many different areas outside the stadiums, creating a true white and blue stronghold. Remember, always live the life of an ultras, not only at some big games!

Banik Ostrava + GKS Katowice (CZ/PL), friendship renovation, 18-05-2020, CZ/PL border

Only less than 100kms divide the cities of Ostrava and Katowice, but they respectively belong to Czech Republic and Poland, both with two clubs which are often involved in the high tier of their national football. Their proximity, and few friendly matches during the past years, gave birth to a nice friendly relationship among the Czech and Polish fanbases, surely two breed to underlight and respect in the ultras world. Both clubs have big national rivarlies, even if they didn’t have a lot of success in the last decades and so during the start of this friendship; the decent palmares they have collected in the previous decades would make up for it. The brillant idea from the two ultrasbases to renew their friendship during Covid-19 outbreak, and with the border of the two countries strictly closed by law, was to meet each other precisely halfway, exactly on the border between the two European countries. Respecting the rules, but always following the brotherhood!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAVLhLpgz1F/

Turris, promotion in Serie C, 30-05-2020, Torre del Greco

The Italian Football Federation decision to suspend all the lower leagues brought a lot of fibrillation in many Italian places and towns: what would it be with promotions and relegations? Turris fans, supporting their club from the town of Torre del Greco may answer this question, being promoted for the first time from Serie D to Serie C, right after the decision of activating the movements of clubs between divisions, with the tables frozen as they were at the official stop of the leagus. A suggestive seafront, in a famous locality known in the whole country for the sweet summer life, litterally put it to flames by a massive pyroshow from the fans of the small club from Campania region. Sense of belonging and the willing of always be close to the team, those are the simple rules for such a big show, also in low divisions! Ah, and also just a bit of illegality for the various gatherings and abusive parties, but for how long have they waited this beautiful moment? Might aswell risk a bit!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAz6OFGA35E/

 

 

April sees plenty of countries down on their knees, in front of the biggest hospital and social crisis since World War II, as declared by the United Nations. The new rule of lockdown though appears efficient, with Italy recording their first new contagions decrease for the first time in the 4th of April, and Germany declaring low numbers statistically, so low to arouse suspicion from some international journalists. At the start of the month some studies show a clear improvement about the general air quality, as consequence of the reduction of any kind of traffic, either via see, land or air: the whole society is basically always relegated at home, an a lot of activities are completely stopped and closed, a situation which also bring nature to take back some of its spaces. A big political ferment anticipates the half of the month, with the EuroGroup which manages to sign a general deal for the allocation of 500.000.000.000€ (500 mlds) for the economical reprise after the quarantine months and the general suspension of many industries. Those are numbers never seen before, in such a delicate moment, all to highlight the big effort by many leaders of the European countries in the same direction. At the half of April, Spain and Italy register a clear decrease of new contagions, while unfortunately USA and UK are pretty much at the top of thee epidemic curve. France in the meantime formalize another whole month of lockdown: the citizens, agreeing with the idea that quarantine still is the best solution, are a bit resentful, thinking that the government should have waited some more days to take such a singular and quick decision, and some social tension arises. Other two nations get our attention in this month, being two very influent countries ultraswise; the first one is Austria, which is the first European country to loosen the measures a bit, getting out of lockdown and starting over some industrial activities. The secondo ne is Brazil, living two awful weeks which see them going on top of the ranking of the most hit countries in the world, due to a very permissive government under the leader Bolsonaro, a list of decisions which will appear to be crazy after few days. Describing the gravity of the situation, Angela Merkel, German leader since 2005 spoke for the first time in TV. In the German measures, also the cancellation of Oktoberfest 2020, the famous event which attracts millions of tourists coming from all around the world each year. In the meantime in the USA, for the first time in history petrol cost goes below the limit of 0$ per barrel: storages are completely full, and in order to keep on extracting petrol from the land, people are payed to empty the various stores around the country. The month ends with declarations from China about their return to normality, with the city of Wuhan still with new contagions, but without an hospital crisis, and well organized to cure each patience. In Europe the situation is much worse, and it looks to keep on getting more serious both statistically and socially speaking.

Below, our chosen five April actions, in chronological order.

Lokomotive Leipzig, online ticket selling sell out, 07-04-2020, World

Lokomotive Leipzig is the oldest and most influent, talking about ultras, club in the German city of Leipzig. Nowadays they find themselves in the German 4th division, after a downhill ended with a bankrupt some ages ago, and an interest which kept on turning towards the new Red Bull project, which is bringing the new city club towards the top of national and continental football, but with very harsh method and philosophy towards the loyal fans. However, some years ago the yellow-blue club (Lokomotive) used to always be in the 1st division, and also conquered 3 German Leagues and one DFB Pokal. Their big success brought the club to have a massive fanbase, in a hugely populated city and area as the Leipzig one. Recently the club reviewed all their most famous games played in Zentralstadion, a structure able to contain more than 100000 fans, in appropriate or unappropriated manner. Until late 80’s, the stadium was considered the second biggest in Europe, paired up with Camp Nou in Barcelona, and only behind Velky Strahovsky Stadium in Prague, a notion which maybe  makes more sense knowing that Leipzig was one of the most important city in the whole DDR Eastern Germany until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Coming back to our days however, and particularly to the start of April, the club which can still vaunt the bigger part of the ultrascene in the city despite the lower divisions, decided to sell at the price of 1€ some virtual tickets for their matches played behind closed doors. All the obtain has been used for the survival of the club, and fans from alla round the world followed the idea, managing to collect 1.100.000€ (1.1mln) in total, and in a singular match selling more than 110.000 tickets, establishing a new record, and surpassing the total capacity of the legendary Zentralstadion in the golden years of the club.

French ultras say no to a premature football restart, 13-04-2020, France

A big manifestation of cohesion from all the French ultrascene, in order to stop the farce of football without fans. Ligue 1 restarted regularly this year adopting the same measures as the rest of all the rest of European football, but suspended the previous season mainly due to the effort and contribution from all those ultras groups. Forty-five different groups, hundreds of rivarlies in this collective, but the same desire to avoid as much as they could to play football without them supporting their colors. France and its football federation listened to the call from the ultras, still proclaiming PSG as national champions, being the first club in the raking at the moment of the stop. A similar decision was also taken by the Dutch federation, so a big round of applause to all the fanbases in Holland, managing to stop both Eredivisie and Eerstedivisie, even avoiding the proclamation of Ajax as national champion.

White Angels Vitoria SC ghost choreo, 17-04-2020, Guimaraes

A very hot topic in the last months for the whole tifo world is the one of ghost choreos, that is the idea of organized tifo scenarios even without the physical presence of fans inside the stadium. In order to not unbalance ourselves too much on the argument, we chose White Angels from Vitoria Guimaraes in our shortlist for two main reasons. The first one lies in the fact that the Portuguese were the first one to propose this new concept, up to date: a real choreo, adapted to the stadium  structure and functional even without anyone animating it live. The second reason is that during the choreo, precisely in those few minutes, a very ironical fact, there wasn’t even any live match going on! With the suspension of every sporting events in Portugal, the fans didn’t even have to chose a weekend with a home match to celebrate their birthday, 25 years ago, they just respected the actual date of their fundation. A very original way of showing their passion and support to the club, with or without actual football!

Ultrasbible stickers fundraise, 18-04-2020, Ultrasbible

Not an autocelebration, but a proof of how unity of intent and organization could always bring us to big targets and making us all achieving big projects. Those are the rules which stand at the base of the ultras world, and us from Ultrasbible tried to apply them towards the half of the month of April, in order to help with our little contribution the big societies fighting the virus on the front row. Without never selling merch before, we organized a set of stickers with different ultras graphics and pics, which you could see here. Thanks to your help we managed to sell everything we’ve produced, so we decided to devolve 100% of money spent by you for the purchase of the stickers to World Health Organization. You can find the details about our money transfers here, but for us this is yet another chance to remember the beauty of the gesture we managed to make during such hard times, due to your effort trying to fight Covid-19. So, a big and warm THANK YOU!

Ruch Chorzow 100th birthday, 20-04-2020, Chorzow

Poland is not a country which suffered the hospital crisis like the most hit countries by Covid-19 in Europe, at least reading the gouvernement declared stats during last spring. Rather, Polish people are living hard times during this month of December, and the typical cold Eastern Europe winter surely influenced and got the new stats to be worse. The country, during the spring, yet decided to move in advance due to avoid big crisis during the following months, applying strict measures and following most of the rest of Europe. Those measures worked in the first place, and will be used again in those weeks in order to save as many people as possible to be hospitalized. Ignoring the prohibition of gathering, and basing their decision much more on the low contagions number rather than the government rules, Ruch Chorzow ultras and fans organized a big party in the street of their city for the 100th birthday of their club, a very historical and big one in Polish football. In a country which loves pyroshow so much, it was easy and quick to see the whole center of Chorzow completely on fire in only few minutes!

 

 

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March will result to be the month where a new era for the whole Europe was started, with many countries fighting against an invisible enemy, inside a society where physical relationships and crowd activities are fundamental. Italy is the most hit country of the European ones, with a quick impact by the virus, bringing the government to introduce a general lockdown in the Lombardy region, involving more than 15 milions people, exactly on the 8th of March. Nobody could exit their houses, unless for working reasons or groceries. Only two days later, the whole nation will use the same restrictions, bringing to 65 millions the number of people relegated at home. In the meantime, in the Middle East, Iran is the country choosing the hardest way: a choice which shows how the whole moment was really serious surely is the release from prison of 70.000 prisoners, sent back home in order to avoid the spread of Covid-19 in the overcrowded jails. During the second weekend of the month also Spain starts taking measures trying to limit their famous movida, but only two days later the restrictions become much harder, with the total lockdown also in the Iberic country. United Kingdom, with a very high number of contagions, adopts a lighter politic with their leader Boris Johnson contemplating the idea of the herd immunity, a concept which will be soon defined as crazy and senseless, bringing the stats to read more than 40 millions of serious contagions only in England. Following decisions will contain the number to be in line to many other European countries, but the time lost will be heavy in the final report. France starts its lockdown alongside the metropolitan area of San Francisco, around the half of the month. USA starts facing an hospital crisis only a couple of weeks later, while China reports a drop of new contagions. 24th of March will become an emblematic moment, sportwise: 4 months before the start of the competitions, Tokyo 2020 Olimpic Games are delayed by a whole year. A loud decision, considering the level of organization required for such an event, and shows how long the crisis will be. Before the end of March, USA become statistically the most hit country in the world, by new contagions and death by Covid-19, while many newspaper are attacking the USA secret service, unable to justify the origin of the virus with proofs. A simultaneous hospital crisis with the governative one, put down on knees the whole USA society.

Below, our chosen five March actions, in chronological order

Crvena Zvezda vs Partizan Belgrade, Prva Liga Srbija, 01-03-2020, Belgrade

First day of the month, and March always presents us with a true classic of the whole ultras scene globally. The biggest derby in Eastern Europe, between Crvena Zvezda and Partizan Belgrade, doesn’t fail to impress even in this case, and this time we were able to witness the spectacle by ourselves. (Check our story archive on Instagram for some images and videos). A wholesome choreo just before the starting whistle, all framed by a pyroshow both in and outside the stadiums, with stands put on fire by ultras close to the pitch, and real fireworks just outside the Marakana, to colour the dark sky. The rivalry between fanbases causes clashes outside the stadium, with police forced to use violence in order to calm the hot moment: no surprise in this particular case though, being the Belgrade derby always between the most fierce and violent ones. Also notable, the continue division between Grobari, the main group for Partizan: Covid-19 right now appears like a far thought, and the priority are well different at the moment for all the Serbian ultras, obviously not thinking about a sanitary crisis in the close future.

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delije partizan 12

delije partizan 12

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Hajduk Split vs Dinamo Zagreb, 1. HNL, 04-03-2020, Split

We climb North by some kilometers, and we find another great classic of Balkan football. As usual Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb gives life to the most interesting match on both the pitch and the stands in the whole Croatian system. Also in this case, we could assist to a choreo AND a pyroshow by the homefans: up to today, this match between the two most famous Croatian clubs, is the last one taking part with fans and ultras inside the stadium.

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hajduk dinamo 1

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AS Saint-Etienne vs Rennes, Coupe de France, 05-03-2020, Saint Etienne

As said previously, France is the first country to be hit by the first contagions of Covid-19 in Europe, and stats are already looking bad at the very start of March. However, like many other governments in the same situation, the country is displaced, and the first restrictions are slightly slower than required. Those few week of waiting before the actions will result to be crucial for the future spread of the virus. The Coupe de France fixture between ASSE and Rennes is then one of the last big tifo event for the country, and conquers a spot in our shortlist due to its extraordinariness. Both clubs are in the history of French football, and their clash is a true classic. Added to that, the Saint Etienne tifo scene was living a great moment, with positive relationships and actions in the previous months and years. In its best dress for the big occasion of the semifinal, the curva managed to propose multiple choreos during the match in a fantastic scenario, in a completely full stadium. Saint-Etienne victory sent back the club in a final after more than 35 years, bringing big celebrations with it. Indeed, right after the final whistle, thousands of fans ran into the pitch for an invasion which looks utopian in the actual moment, after Covid-19. This may be the last highlight in the French ultras scene, but for sure it was very noteworthy.

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ES de Tunis vs Zamalek, CAF Champions League, 06-03-2020, Tunis

This CAF Champions League semifinal surely is one of the most significant matches of the month. We must consider that ES de Tunis and Zamalek come from different countries, and this is an important international match. True, in Northern Africa we don’t find a lot of tradition between fans for away games, but such a big occasion brought Zamalek fans to travel all the way from Egypt to Tunisia. In the stadium, more than 50000 fans for the last step before the final of the biggest African cup. Also in this case, with Tunisia not being a particularly hit country even nowadays, this will be one of the last remarkable ultras actions in the whole Arab area of Africa, like the rest of the world. We’re now very close to the end of the normal life, and the start of an unavoidable crisis of the whole ultras scene!

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Universitario vs Alianza Lima, Liga 1, 08-03-2020, Lima

Different match, different geographical area, a clear example of how at the start of March the virus was still only in some countries, and it wasn’t affecting the whole world. A massive classic for South American football, the derby of Lima, which shows the best of the whole Peruvian fan scene. Hosting the show, the biggest stadium in the whole continent, El Monumental  de Lima, a factor with makes the images we receive even more epic. Classic latin hinchada support during the whole match, colorful and very loud, by both the fanbases. We chose this fixture in our monthly top 5, and we noticed how we’re already at the end of our list, only at the 8th day of the month. Going through March we could find some other noteworthy actions, but the progressive drop brings the very best of the month in the first eight days: from then on, a clear downfall. Covid-19 hit the ultras world like a tsunami, like all the rest of society, and without even noticing we were already watching the last blazes of the whole global ultrascene.

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Universitario Lima 1

Universitario Lima 1

Thanks for reading again and make sure to check out the overview of January and February

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.

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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.

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bvb psg 1

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.

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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.

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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!

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UltrasBible takes you back through the last twelve months of ultrascene, in a time which has been heavily marked by the Covid-19 outbreak. Some countries have been hit more than others, but the unity in the hottest ultras cities managed to overcome also this severe situation, with still some noteworthy ultras actions which become even more significant if related to their own time.

Despite the first little evidences of the virus later renamed as Covid-19 in both China and Europe date back to november 2019, we could point January 2020 ad the true starting point of the pandemic. China gets hit on its very bowels, mainly in the Hubei region, which has the city of Wuhan as its chief town.

Both the Chinese government and the WHO (World Health Organization) live a very busy first 10 days of the month, truing to collaborate in order to limit as much as possible the spreading of the virus, which was already confirmed to be transmissible from a person to another, and divided in few stumps. The first official hospitalization happens on the 10th of January, and in less than five days more than ten countries confirm Covid-19 cases.

In the ultras world the only relevant nation involved is France, where we could find the first infected Europeans. 23th of January becomes a significant date, as China formalizes a total lockdown in the Hubei region, after some cases involving the metropolis of Beijin and Shangai; we’re talking about the first official lockdown in history, a decision which puts to an end the preparations for the Chinese new year, a very felt and sensed celebration in the whole country. The decision causes dissent and disagreement between people, but later on it will be confirmed as the best solution to contain the virus. In few days the Chinese government enlarges the lockdown to a stunning number of 60 milions people; Hong Kong quickly becomes the second country to chose to quarantine their citizens. Before the end of the month new cases are official in USA and Germany, among many other smaller countries.

France register its first few number of hospitalizations, while WHO advise every single country to prepare an action plan to limit Covid-19 spread. The epidemic still seems to be under control, but it already has the full attention from the main health associations, confirming the big and imminent risk. New cases in Europe are still a very small number, but many videos and scattered news coming from China, from which is always very hard to have precise infos, start to advise all the citizens of what it looks to be a surreal situation, far from the western world, but still on our own planet. For what concerns the ultras world, China was the only country badly hit by the virus in January, and beyond having a narrow ultrascene, the Chinese Superleague always starts by the end of February; no actions were therefore limited by the spread of Covid-19 up to this time.

Below, our chosen five January actions, in chronological order.

Aris Salonicco vs PAOK Salonicco, Souper Ligka Ellada, 04-01-2020, Salonicco.

A true and real classic of the Greece ultrascene, a derby with many cultural, religious and traditional sides, other than the football side. Every year the city of Thessaloniki prepares itself for the clash between its factions, Aris and PAOK, in what became a globally famous match for the insane atmosphere on the stands. Few years ago some pictures of the derby were used in a number of social pages about football, attracting the attention of many passionates. This derby really has a long tradition, and during the years the main habit has become to litterally set on fire the stadium, with every kind of pyro known to mankind, creating a true hellish cauldron. As every other high-risk match in Greece, away fans are not allowed in any case, a decision which makes it easier for the home fans to create inflamed and unique scenarios. Coronavirus reached Greece only at the start of March, and in the European carnage, the Mediterrean country always appeared to be one of the less hit ones, at least with their declared numbers; this is also the result of a hard politic, which reduced to the bone their typical summer tourism, putting down to knees many activities, but yet limiting as much as possible the arrival of the virus from external people. At the start of January though, these only were far thoughts in a country suffering of a massive economical crisis since decades, and which often takes refuge in football passion in order to stay away for few hours from the daily problems. The alight stands of Stadium Kleanthis Vikelidis in this occasion, are the clear demonstration.

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CE Europa vs Sant’Andreu, Tercera Division, 11-01-2020, Barcellona

For demonstrations of the calm situation characterizing Europe circa one year ago, we decided to put in our January shortlist this Barcelona derby, played in the Spanish four division. In a country in which the ultrascene doesn’t really have solid traditions as in many others, and which finds their best presenation in some urban fights before their many derbies, a match able to give such images surely is suggestive and significant. Passion and mentality in these clubs are certainly better and more intense in factions such as CE Europa and Sant’Andreu, the ones involved in this derby, than in many others top clubs in Spanish football. However, its significant how a match played in the fourth division in a Barcelona suburb, a city mainly owned by FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol, could call to the arms such a big number of people, and with such fervor! Numbers talk about 5000 attendance, with choreos and a lot of support from both fanbases. Such scenes are being deleted by Covid-19 limitations, and will hardly come back in the near future. Action plans for the next few months are planning a gradual return of fans in the main matches of each countries, a shereable decision mainly for the easier way of controls and match visibility, but at the same time a decision which hurts football belonging to the lower divisions, where in many countries we often witness the best ultras actions at national level.

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Lazio vs Napoli, Serie A, 12-01-2020, Roma

Even in a month that didn’t see this nations in a big hospital crisis, we couldn’t exclude Italy from the first shortlist of this series of twelve articles, as the number of the months, pronouncing the best ultras actions of 2020. Italy has been the first European country to face this hard war against the virus, and numbers of new contagions and deaths rarely went down during all these months. Scoring the first point for Italy, Lazio ultras brings us a magnificent scenario at the half of the month. Having many groups close to influent tattoo artists of Rome, an influence also coming from the abdication of the historical group Irriducibili, with a more traditional model, Lazio ultras managed to offer a number of great choreos in their last big matches; this game against Napoli happened to be also in the weekend of SS Lazio 120th birthday. Double the reasons, double the fan, double the show! Codiv-19 and all the misery with it was only a far immagination, and mastering the scene at Olimpico during that night it wasn’t concern and desperation, but instead a glorious choreo referring to love. Various faces of Lazio history passed through the display of the capital city stadium, all framed by a massive work from all the curva boys, colouring and painting the whole sector with cardstocks and banners. Between the faces on the display, our favourite one was the one of Gabriele Sandri, ultras killed by the police violence, and quickly become an emblem of the ultras movement in Italy and in the whole world.

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Lazio Napoli 1

Rapperswil-Jona Lakers vs ZSC Lions, Swiss National Hockey League, 17-01-2020, Rapperswil-Jona

As a reminder of the fact that each sport is suffering from Covid-19 pandemic, and the fact that each sport have its own ultras, the example brought by the guys from Rapperswil-Jona really fits. Celebrating the 75th birthday of their hockey club, all the fans organized a great choreo able to involve all the 6000 people inside the Diners Club Arena, in a medium sized town close to the chief town St. Gallen. Hockey is and will be one of the most hardly hit sports, being played exclusively in indoor stadiums, where it’s more difficult to assure social distancing and body scanners. May these scenes of celebrations become a big reminder of how each sport can give emotions, always through fans and ultras!

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Rapperswil Jona 1

Olympiakos vs Panathinaikos, Souper Ligka Ellada, 11-01-2020, Atene

Greece finds its way twice in our January choices, with another legendary match. This time we’re talking about the Athens derby, taking the scende only seven days about the Thessaloniki’s one. We’re used to see fierce derbies in Athens, always violent and suggestive in the last years, but this match enters our shortlist for another reason. Other than the away fans, always prohibited in rival stadiums, also Olympiakos fans weren’t allowed to assist to this winter derby. The reasons of their absence comes from a fine received by the club after the riotting behaviour of their supporter in their match against PAOK, once again involed, and not to Covid-19 limitation, only happened since the half of March. However, it’s very rare to see a big derby taking part behind closed doors, or at least it was before Coronavirus. The Athens derby without fans was a close anticipation of many other worthy ultras clashes, which never existed due to all the limitations we’re living in now. Greece was already living what in few time became normality, without anyone aware of it. No scenes on the stands, but violent clashes and many people outside the stadium ready to fight for their colours: still, a valid alternative in the Athens derby time in January.

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olympiakos pao 1

olympiakos pao 1

Thanks for reading again and stay tuned for more!

Fellow ultras friends, this article opens up with a question. Have you ever watched a football match, before starting turning your sight towards your stand? If the answer is yes, then you’ll easily understand the dimension of what happened, and what we’ve just lost. If not, just put in mind that all the tangible passion you feel from your ultras mates, surrounded by all the socio-political reason you wish and thousands of other reasons, comes from one common thing: the poetry of football.
On November 25th 2020, we’ve lost who many consider to be the greatest poet of all time, Diego Armando Maradona.

Other websites or newspapers will give you the chance to read millions of lines about his football skills, his career and his famous yet controversial life outside the football pitch. In this article we’d like to explain and give an identity to his role and size in the life of all of you, individual fans, living inside the wide football system.

Imagine to being given the task of make an imaginary index of the must-have-features of an ultras. You may be listing all of your main traits, if you have an high consideration of yourself, or more vaguely the ones that defines a person you look up to in the ultras life, your capo for instance. We easily could decree that Maradona owned and showed a large number of this features, more than you could imagine by only thinking of his figure on a yacht, in a debatable psychophysics condition, with a cigar hanging out his lips. Everywhere he played, his memory will last forever as a legendary thought, an entity, an institution. Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, Newell’s OB and Boca again, because as everybody know, we always go back where we had a good time. Six different clubs, places, passions, one common thought: Maradona represents us! Don’t we all work on our own stands to represent the feel of our club, our people, our beliefs? With his unbridled celebrations, armed with blunt and outspoken way of doing, a great social commitment and fidelity, impeccable and faultless whatever are your political thoughts, Diego could have easily figured in a hypothetical rank of the best ultras of the century. Luckily he decided to live football also inside the pitch, gifting us with memorable performances and moments, and gifting the chance to fall in love with it. Someone has to do the hard job, right?

Diego singing Dale Boca together with 60.000 Boca fans

Diego educating his son the Neapolitan way 

Only a well rated scriptwriter could imagine Maradona’s career to explode in a city like Naples, Southern capital city of a passional country such Italy, in the crisp and fizzy late ‘80s. The whole globe, and in particular the “Southern world” was watching a 165cms tall man making his way through the biggest and most important social figures, only helped by two very gifted feet, and an immediate and plainspoken way of life. Billions of hungry mouths finally felt represented by someone, so close to them with both his early life and lately his social ideologies fitting in a perfect wedding. Diego was the sweetest revolution! Who better than the best footballer in the world, born and raised in an extremely poor neighborhood of Lanus, and close to the South American leftist parties (ed, Peronism in Argentina, Castro and Guevara in Cuba, Sanchez in Venezuela) could have given voice to them?

Diego widely loved and respected Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban revolution. Fidel love Maradona, symbol of an allegorical revolution, voice of many “forgotten” people around the whole world, through his football art

An indirect freekick from inside the box; lately, Juventus wall was discovered to be put around 4.5m. Who would be able to still bend it under the bar?

Roughly pointing out some reasons why we think Maradona could do a better job than most of us, ultras, as an ultra, we’re pretty sure to have the support of the ones with those beliefs. To the ones still lulling a doubt, here’s something that could smooth your heavy judgment over his rock ‘n roll life, between drugs and controversial behavior. Would you throw away a redemption opportunity to save a legendary career, only to cover our hated FIFA with mud? Diego did it, in 1994, inside one of the darkest and gloomiest pages of modern football, catching an opportunity, and putting his reputation on the line.
Clearly close to the cocaine and drugs “world” for at least ten years, Maradona had some troubles participating in the 1994 World Cup, held in the USA. His drug problems, alongside some doping controversies, forced him out a number of countries which made it difficult for him to be a stable component of Argentina national team. Despite not being reported in any book to dates, his participation to 1994 WC only happened through a tacit agreement between his agents and FIFA, willing to hide his doping results at the cost of having him in the biggest football competition. His absence in fact would have been too big, and FIFA was already attacked by millions of fans saying the federation wasn’t defending the show and beauty of football.
A long and silent procedure allowed Maradona to the World Cup, joining a really strong Argentina, looking forward to the final. However, Diego hot temper and nature didn’t slow him during the competition. Knowing the risk he was running, he made a big voice complaining about the crazy FIFA decisions of playing in the maximum heat, and in the hottest time slots, only to allow televisions to transmit the competition in westerners countries. A futile controversy that brought FIFA to reveal the positive results of his doping tests, right before the second Argentina match, giving birth to the memorable picture of D10S, calmly brought outside the pitch by a nurse. His attitude and posture really seem to say: “I’m guilty, but you’re guiltier”; the sacrifice of a son that could have still brought joys to football, in particular to Argentinian people. Would you put yourself in line, your identity, only to screw up one of the federation that we regularly insult in our ultras chants, stickers, arguments? Diego did, and without even wearing specific colors, but only to defend an idea, and attack an already rotten system, twenty-five years ago.

Maradona leaves USA 1994, holding hands with a nurse after the antidoping results were revealed

Someone says that we only discover the dimension of someone, when we don’t have him anymore. Will anyone miss the pub version of Maradona? Probably not, unless we’re looking for a goliardic laugh.
Will someone miss Maradona as in idea, as a conviction, as an entity? We’d better ask the ones crying his memory on the streets, in a moment where human contact is our worst enemy. We’d better ask Argentines, a country which went through dozens of economic collapses and social crisis, but always had faith in fùtbol. We’d better ask the ones renouncing to a historical saint, in order to rename a stadium after his figure (ed, Stadio San Paolo, which will newly become Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples).

 

A chapel inside the city centre of Naples. Warm, loud and faithful, Neapolitan people easily fell in love with the legendary figure of Maradona, in and off the pitch. Nowadays he’s compared to various saints, and will overtake San Paolo for the new name of Napoli stadium!

On November 25th 2020, a man died. Still, a myth was born, and an identity finally found his space, intangible.

Diego Maradona, D10S, louder than us, as ultras as us.

Champions League groups draws have coupled again Inter and Borussia Monchengladbach, after 41 years since the last meet up, happened to be in UEFA CUP 1979/80. Though both clubs have attended European cups regularly during their long and victorious history, they only had a clash between each others twice, in both occasions in a double leg match, bringing the balance to four total games before tonight’s one. However, the reason why we talk about this fixture on Ultras Bible hides in the first match between Italians and Germans, in 1971. The most passionate and informed about old school football could already know this topic, La Partita della Lattina, or Büchsenwurspiel (=The Match of the soda can), to all the others, sit back and enjoy this incredible story!

Champions League 1971/72, an Inter full of international stars and holder of the previous Scudetto (Italian Serie A), travels in the small city of Monchengladbach for the last of sixteen fixture. Borussia, a new face in European football, won the previous Bundesliga edition, but still has the typical “provincial team” look; waiting to rise completely from the average level of German football system, and still little used to the international stages during these years. These reasons, as we can read from newspapers articles from those days, give Inter very good chances of easily pass the round; the team appeared particularly relaxed in the few days before the first leg, in the old Bökelbergstadion.

Bökelbergstadion, former Borussia stadium, theater of the night

The very start of the match though, took the Neroazzurri out of place, and put them down twice, with the score being 2-1 before the 20th minute. Ten minutes later, around the 30th minute, we find the main episode that gives title to this match, and this article. Roberto Boninsegna, striker able to score 300 goals during his career, is hit on his head by a Coca Cola can during a throw in. Fallen to the ground and brought away on a stretcher, the Italian striker will eventually suffer from a parietal contusion to the delicate areas of the head, for demonstration of the legitness of the injury. In the meantime, on the pitch of the Bökelbergstadion the situation has become crazy and wild. The Germans managed to hide the blunt object, but without noticing Sandro Mazzola, legendary Inter winger, picking up an empty one from the away sector through the help of some fans, and explaining the truth to the Dutch referee Jef Dorpmans in a wavering English. After more than ten minutes the match starts over, with Inter refusing to play, and conceding seven goals in total, making the final result a blistering 7-1 for the Germans. In the last spell of the match, two more key Inter players find their way out of the pitch: Jair picks up a muscular injury, while Mario Corso is sent off after fighting with the ref, still thinking about the first half episode.

Inter players trying to convince the referee so suspend the match. We can spot an old Giacinto Facchetti walking away from the group, at his last year in Inter after 17 years

Right at the end of the match, the whole Inter board in Germany for the match was positive about winning the match at the table through the referee relationship, the main reason why the players refused to equally face BMG. Various and long complications needed the participation of Giuseppe Prisco, lawyer and vice-president of Inter during the ‘70s; nowadays he still his name in the lyrics of the club’s official anthem, twenty years after his death. His ability convinced the UEFA court to cancel the first leg, setting the new match to be played in Bern, after a few weeks, and adding a hefty fine to Borussia. This decision unleashed the public opinion on both sides, with a sport news reaching for the first time ever the radio news in the newly reborned Germany, which was only used to politics news. In Italy various journalists wrote about a “diplomatic masterpiece”, while waiting for the San Siro game, where then Inter was called to win.

“Inter-Borussia, we start back from zero”: a famous Italian newspaper widely talks about the match and its legal consequences

So it was: the Neroazzurri won 4-2, with Bellugi, Ghio and the recovered Boninsegna and Jair on the scoresheet; Le Fevre and Wittkamp for die Fohlen. The second discussed match didn’t take place in Bern, but at the Olimpic Stadium in Berlin, through a UEFA concession to still play in West Germany, after various Borussia’s board bigger appeals. The choice wasn’t appreciated by the club, which saw it as an offence and accused UEFA, already based in Switzerland at that time, to be xenophobic against Germans. To the records, the match was still repeated, deleting first leg’s 7-1, and giving Inter the overall victory, ending in a goalless draw. German newspapers and medias weren’t able to deny the accuses with real proofs. Various Italian witnesses, with many big journalist of that time, instead confirmed the Italian version, also bringing to the judges few stained coats, apparently ruined by the famous Coca Cola. Besides, German police confirmed to have blocked a fan at the stadium during that night, without revealing his identity, but in a way confirming the truth behind the infamous match.

Giuseppe Prisco, the key lawyer for the Inter appeal to the UEFA court

Net of the chronicles and aftermaths that this clash brings with itself after fifty years, let’s quickly analyze what happened under a ultras point of view; with both Italian and German fan scene being at their very start at the beginning of the ‘70s, football still wasn’t followed by organized tifo. Instead, it used to have a more free and various audience. This is probably the reason why we don’t report big rivalries between Inter and Borussia Monchengladbach ultras groups, after what we can easily call a cold war between the two clubs’ boards, and general fans opinion during the days. Both scenes can now vaunt an influent presence in recent European football scene, but having different area of interest and action. Time indeed, stole this strange episode from the memory of a large part of the support of both clubs. La Partita della Lattina would have had a completely different effect if played only ten years later, and would have consequences still nowadays, with fierce rivarly between the Italian and German sides.

La Partita della Lattina, Büchsenwurspiel, The Match of the Can, or if you’d rather, the night when an ancient drunk ultras ancestor gave life to an international episode of legislative justice!

Curva Nord of Inter with a dedicated choreo to their former vice-presidente Giuseppe Prisco