Football, a game that constantly mesmerises us for the good things, has had its fair share of troubles. The game that was once banned in England for being too violent a sport, has not only given us role models, it has also provided us lessons from the glorious lives of other individuals who rose to fame due to their abilities in football and faded just as quickly due to their off-field troubles.
No football club is complete without a team, there is no fun in any sport without the fans and these supporters across the globe play a major part in the success of the club, be it on the pitch or off the pitch.
With the game almost being considered a religion, it does not surprise us that factions are willing to do anything for the love of their club in the name of passion arise and distort the version of football for most fans across the globe. In this segment, we take a look at some of these notorious segments, or Ultras, as they are called, from across the globe.
1 Galatasaray (ultrAslan)
The Galatasaray Ultras, or Ultraslan, as they are better known are amongst the most fanatic Ultras in the world of football. Formed in 2001 when a number of smaller groups of fans decided that they should come together in support of one of the top Turkish clubs in order to act as a catalyst for success, the ultrAslan have established a notorious reputation for themselves.
Renowned for their choreography and use of flares, the ultrAslan have made life tough for the visitors, irrespective of their reputation. The visiting teams are often greeted with the slogan “Welcome to Hell” and the Ultraslan have ensured that they live up to their words, not merely for the players but also for the visiting fans.
The fan base, that holds the Guinness world record for being the loudest in the world, have been involved in a number of altercations with fans of Leeds United, Arsenal, Besiktas and arch rivals Fenerbahce over the years on as well as off the pitch. With emotions running high during the games, the ultrAslan have often disrupted games with their hooliganism and have caused numerous casualties over the years.
#2 Lazio (Irriducibles)
The club’s Ultras have been touted to be the most intimidating ones in the Italian football by Paulo Di Canio, a man who is himself remembered for his fascist celebrations. Formed in 1900’s the club is believed to have military connections with dictator Benito Mussolini being one of its infamous supporters.
The club’s fans, who have been embroiled in numerous physical battles with fans of the visiting clubs, are unafraid to display their Neo-Nazi affiliation, especially across their famous terrace Curva Nord to this date. With their crosstown rivals AS Roma sharing the notoriety for being violent, the Rome Derby has often drawn more attention for the action off the pitch rather than on it.
The fans have even been linked with terror activities against anti-nazi supporters and were involved in ambushing a set of Tottenham fans in 2012 when they carried out a well-planned attack against them in a bar which resulted in a bloodbath and at least a couple of Tottenham fans being hospitalised.
In recent years, the Ultras have been involved in racial abuse of visiting players and fans. Even some of their own players have not been spared from abuse, making the club one of the most hated ones in not Italy, but across the globe.
3 Red Star Belgrade (Delije)
Though the Delije (Brave) are the fans of all the teams that compete under the Red Star Belgrade Sports Society banner, they have gained a notorious reputation for their support of the football club.
The Ultra group was formed when a number of smaller groups came together in 1989 to establish a united fan base and have since gone on to ink themselves in the club’s legacy, with even a stand being named in their honour by the club.
The Delije were involved in one of the worst riots in footballing history on 13 May 1990, when they travelled to Zagreb to witness their club take on Dinamo Zagreb. With political agendas running high, especially with Croatian independence imminent, fans of both the club were involved in a long physical battle post the game.
The Delije even provided the base for the Serb Volunteer Guard, a paramilitary unit led by Arkan that participated in the Yugoslavian wars and were involved in numerous troubles and were even banned for five years in Europe.
Even today, the derby between Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade tends to a bloody affair with numerous instances of crowd violence being reported.
4 Millwall (Millwall Bushwackers)
The Millwall Bushwackers, who were earlier known as the F Troop, came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s for their hooliganism. The first instance of trouble came to the fore during a game against Brentford in November 1965 when a grenade was thrown onto the pitch from the Brentford end. While the grenade itself was harmless, the action led to a riot amongst the fans of the clubs involved.
The worst case of hooliganism reported with respect to the club, occurred post the side’s 1-0 loss to Luton Town in 1985 when the Ultras of the club were involved in an altercation that also involved fans from other London clubs such as Chelsea and West Ham. The Kenilworth Road Riot led to the arrest of at least 31 fans on account of violence.
However, the event was the mere beginning of what was to come and shake up the foundations of English football. What followed was a series of riots, physical battles with the opposition fans and numerous bans being imposed on the club by the Football Association and the club retains the notorious reputation of having one of the most violent fans in the world to date.
5 River Plate (Los Borrachos del Tablon)
Part of the Barra Brava group that rules the roost in Latin American Football, the Los Borrachos del Tablon (Drunks of Leaderboard) have become notorious for their antics off the pitch. The Ultras have been involved in numerous criminal acts including murders.
A match against rivals such as Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys tends to bring the worst out of the Ultras in the past. In 2002, River Plate’s game against Boca Juniors was suspended after one of the Boca fans was shot and in 2004, the Ultras ambushed a bus full of Newell’s Old Boys supporters and engaged in a physical altercation, which left two fans dead and numerous others injured.
All hell truly broke loose in 2011, when the club was relegated for the first time in 110 years and engaged in an altercation with the police, which left 65 of them injured.
While the opposition fans and fans were not provided any respite, the club’s Ultras have also engaged in an intra-Ultra war over the last 10 years, with two strong units fighting to take over the leadership of the notorious group and being involved in a bloody power struggle.
The hooliganism existing at the club came to the limelight in 1958 post the murder of fan remains true to this date and the Ultras do not seem keen to cede any power or their disruptive abilities.
6 Universitario Lima (Trinchera Norte)
The Peruvian club’s Ultras faction, properly known as the Trinchera Norte has gained wide recognition for being one of the most violent fan groups in Latin America. However, that did not stop the club from celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2013, with even players of the club joining in to express their love for the faction.
Part of the Barra Bravas group, the passionate yet brutal Trinchera Norte have been involved in causing numerous match day troubles, since their inception close to three decades ago and make life miserable for the visiting fans as well as players with their antics.
Due to numerous violent events in the early 1990s a number of fans believed to be the leaders of the Ultras were arrested by police. However, that did not deter the group and they have since gone on to establish themselves as one of the most notorious fan bases in not only Latin America but across the globe.
Like the aforementioned Barra Bravas group, this Ultras segment too has been plagued by an interior struggle for power between two smaller groups, La Turba and Troop, which has caused numerous match day altercations and even led to the death of an Ultra during a fight.
7 Metalist Kharkiv
Though the Ukranian club has ceased to operate, there is no denying the fact that it boasted of one of the most passionate fans in the world of football. However, with passion often getting confused with violence, it comes as no surprise that the club had its share of troubles due to the existence of an Ultras group.
The Ultras were involved in numerous battles with their arch-rivals Dynamo Kyiv, whom they were touted to replace as one of the top teams in Ukraine, until they were disbanded and fights breaking out over the stadium was not a sight one would be surprised when the two sides met.
However, the fans of the two clubs came together in support of Kharkiv during their last meeting in the Ukranian league, with 20 minutes of a vocal and visual exhibition of their frustration with the club’s management to hold on to their status as a football club. While the club might no longer exist, two separate Kharkiv clubs have now been registered in the country and we believe it is not long before the notoriety of their supporters begins to resurface.
8 Ferencvaros (Green Monsters)
Though the club might not be one of the biggest in Europe, their Ultra segment, the Green Monsters, ensure that they give their best in support of their side every time they walk out on the pitch.
The fans of the Hungarian club have now built a reputation for themselves as one of the most violent ones in Europe and a game against arch rivals Ujpest is believed to bring out their monstrous best with the usage of baseball bats, chains and even tasers deemed normal in the build-up, during and after their match against their fiercest rivals.
Since its inception more than 21 years ago, the Ultra segment has been involved in physical brawls with Millwall, Dinamo Kyiv and Hajduk Split and seems to have no regrets with regards to the mayhem caused by them in the name of the glorious game of football. The unapologetic group does not hesitate from claiming glory for their hideous deeds and believes its actions are in the best interest of Ferencvaros, irrespective of the consequences.
Hungarian football has recognised the dangers associated with hooliganism and has adopted policies which would help neutralise them. However, it remains to be seen if the Green Monsters will succumb to the threats.
9 Barcelona (Boixos Nois)
Though the club has become synonymous with class over the last few decades, there is nothing classy about their Ultras Boixos Nois, which literally translates into “The Crazy Boys”. Believed to be politically aligned with Far-right Catalan separatism, the group was founded in 1981 and even enjoyed a special relationship with the club, until former president Joan Laporta decided to ban them from the stadium in 2003.
Vocal in their support of violence, the Ultra group was involved in a horrible display of their intentions when they unruffled a banner at the Camp Nou hailing Liverpool post the Heysel disaster. In 1991, one of the members of the Ultras group was sentenced to 26 years in prison for murdering a fan of cross-town rivals Espanyol creating fear amongst football fans across the nation.
Although they later agreed to behave inside the stadium, the club could not hold them responsible for any acts outside the Camp Nou and the Boixos Nois did not hesitate from creating trouble.
They were in the news for the wrong reasons in 2002, when former player Luis Figo returned to the club, albeit with a different club and the Ultras made sure their feelings were known by throwing the head of a pig at Figo.
The group does have its elements of racist troubles and was vehemently opposed to the idea of Laporta taking over as the president of the club in 2003 since he was a Jew. Post their ban by Laporta, the Ultras issued death threats to the president and even attacked him near his home.
Though they remain banned from the stadium, the Ultras have not entirely been contained and it remains to be seen how the legendary club will hold on to its reputation despite the presence of such a disruptive force.
10 Real Madrid (Ultras Sur)
Formed in 1980, the Ultras Sur has been led by Jose Luis Ochaeta, a man who has been arrested several times and has also been banned across a number of sporting facilities. It was their love for Real Madrid and the Ultras believed they were the face of the club at the ground level, dealing with the taunts towards the opposition fans in their own ways and as a result of this, have gained a reputation for being the most violent set of fans in Spain.
Believed to be an Ultra group that operates similarly to the Lazio Ultra group Irreducibli, this group is believed to be aligned to right-wing politics and have gained notorious mentions for their racist activities. The group has been at the forefront of footballing violence on numerous occasions in the past, rioting and entering into a brawl with the Ultras of their arch rivals Barcelona in 1983 and then following it up with fights with Inter Milan fans in 1985 and 1986.
Their activities did not go unnoticed and soon reports began to emerge about the unrest amongst other fans. However, the Ultras Sur went about their business of disrupting the normal course of action in and around the matches and were subsequently even arrested. In recent years, they have been involved in racially abusing a number of players, leading to an investigation being launched against the club by UEFA.
After being banned by the current president Florentino Perez, the segment now regularly engages in protest outside the club stadium demanding their reinstatement. With the atmosphere at their great stadium almost dull, it remains to be seen if Perez will be keen to negotiate with the devil. @3ndrithoxhaj