With almost a million likes on Facebook, they post videos and photos of the better aspects of football fan culture - choreographies on the stands, for example - but also the darker side. The Molotov attack in Athen was not news to anyone who reads Ultras-Tifo - they had ten pages of comments on a similar incident between the two fans the night before, so anyone reading it could have foreseen the trouble at the game.
This is a forum orientated around a fundamentally illegal activity and on which ten-second blurry videos are the proof of achievement, so words are often minced and actions heavily implied. Photos are posted with banners from matches as proof of famous victories, trophies taken and foes vanquished, but with little explanation. The rules of the game are debated ad infinitum: are weapons allowed?
Does wearing a Stone Island jacket, a brand popular with hooligans, make one a hooligan? What constitutes a victory in a fight, and does it even matter? Is just showing up and not running away a victory in itself? As the majority of users are commenting in their second or third languages, while also attempting to use slang that they have parsed from English working class culture as a result of movies such as The Football Factory and Green Street , comments have to be pieced together.
One needs an in-depth understanding of European history, as beefs between nations are constantly brought up: a solid knowledge of the Treaty of Trianon , the Yugoslav Wars and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire are required and, of course, the myriad neo-Nazi and Antifa teams are in constant battle. Racism, sexism and homophobia are the rule rather than the exception.
But the discussion is clearly taking place. This is no online-only message board either: there are videos and photos to prove that this subculture is still very real in the streets. It may seem trivial, but come every European week, the forum is alive with planned meetings, reports of fights and videos from traveling supporters crisscrossing the continent. It is there if only one seeks it out. That nobody does, and that it barely gets mentioned, is collective unknowing on behalf of the mainstream media, conscious that football hooliganism is bad news in a game that sells papers better than anything else.
Anyone who casually looked at Ultras-Tifo could have told you well in advance what was going to happen when the Russians met the English at Euro It is true that, by and large, major hooligan incidents are a thing of the past in European football. The dark days were the s, when 36 people were killed as a results of hooliganism at the European Cup Final, 96 were killed in a crush at Hillsborough and 56 people killed in the Bradford stadium fire. Thereafter, most major European leagues instigated minimum standards for stadia to replace crumbling terraces and, more crucially, made conscious efforts to remove hooligans from the grounds.
Arguably, the most effective way of doing this has been economic. The social group that provided the majority of supporters for the entire history of the sport has been working-class men, and one does not need a degree in sociology to know that this demographic has been at the root of most major social disturbances in history. When the Premier League and the Champions League were founded in , they instigated a break between the clubs and their traditional supporters that has, year on year, seen ticket prices rise and the traditional owners of the game, the industrial working class, priced out.
One of the consequences of this break has been making the clubs financially independent of their fans.
Matchday revenue - that is, the amount of money provided to the clubs by their supporters buying tickets and spending money in the stadium - is regularly less than a quarter of the income of large clubs. Outside of the Big 5 leagues, however, the fans are still very much necessary. These are the countries where the hooligans still wield the most power: clubs need them, because if they stopped going to the games, then the stadium would be empty.
The irony being, of course, that it is because of the hooligans that many regular fans stopped going to the stadium. Dinamo Zagreb are a good example of this. Their Maksimir stadium is the largest in Croatia, with a capacity of 35,, but their average attendance is a shade over 4, Their hooligans, the Bad Blue Boys, occupy three tiers of one stand behind a goal, but the rest of the ground is empty.
Their dedication has driven everyone else away. The average fan might not have anything to do with hooliganism, but their matchday experience is defined by it: from buying a ticket to getting to the stadium to what happens when they are inside.
Incidentally, this was sold to the public as an ID card for fans, intended to limit hooliganism but is considered by fans to be a naked marketing ploy designed to rinse fans for more cash. This makes buying tickets incredibly hard, especially for casual supporters who do not attend every game, and lead to empty stadiums. Italy also operates a similar system. VICE: When did you first decide you wanted to be a hooligan? Derek "Diablo" Alvarez: The skinhead scene was a big influence. American skinheads were the equivalent to the UK hooligan scene.
We used to fight the Hammerskins [a white supremacist skinhead group] and would go mobbed-out deep to shows in their cities, which was like hooligans going to away games. I was also exposed to oi [a sub-genre of punk], and the bands were constantly talking about football violence. I went through a few different lifestyles before I arrived at being a casual.
I got in deep with anti-racist skinhead gangs. I was in a hardcore crew called FSU.
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I was in the anti-Trump movement and took part in the Women's March. Then neo-feminists took command and I was betrayed over the fact that I said "bitches".
- Football hooligans.
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I wasn't talking about my comrades; I was talking about bitches on the street. This was after I'd fought the Nazis, took territory and won wars. That means you don't want any Latino or black gangsters involved because all gangsters talk that way. Then you go fight the Nazis without us. I'd taken being a skinhead as far as I could take it, and the politics hadn't gone anywhere, so I decided I needed another lifestyle to move on to.
Hooliganism had always been in the back of my mind, and I ended up deciding to be a casual.
I thought, 'Wow, I'd be the first to represent that in the US. America is better known for gangs that fight with guns than those that fight at sports events. Don't football hooligans seem a bit tame in comparison to your homegrown gangs? Yes, which is precisely the point.
Back To The 1980s? Inside Europe's Biggest Football Hooliganism Forum
I don't agree with using weapons, and don't like the old-school style of hooliganism involving attacking pubs. I'm more into the forest-fighting model [a form of hooliganism involving pre-arranged fights in forests, which is popular among hooligans in other European countries]. What's the deal with the Miami Casuals? Have they actually taken on any other firms? I've got access to a pool of several hundred people who've been in the skinhead and gang scene, and a lot more from the martial arts scene. From that pool, I could put together a ten-on-ten fight without a problem.
- 10 Questions You Always Wanted to Ask a Football Hooligan.
- Grinnell College.
- The America Play by Susan Lori-Parks: An Analysis.
I put out a challenge of a ten-on-ten forest fight and nobody expressed any interest in wanting to fight us. Are there any other firms in the US for you to go up against?
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The US actually has an active hooligan scene. People have been jumping each other and have been stabbed before. Can you say a bit about your plans to transform hooliganism into a combat sport?