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.
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.
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.
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!
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.