Wednesday, 3 January 2007

More ultras shenanigans

So shortly before Christmas one of the more important Roma ultras groups of recent years disbanded: Tradizione Distinzione (I've mentioned this delightful bunch before, I expect you'll remember). Rumours began to circulate online on message boards and on Roma radio stations on 21 December 2006, and not long after came the confirmation: at the game against Cagliari on the 23rd their group banner was not displayed for the first time in 10 years. Instead, a banner read 'Per andare più avanti ancora' or, in order to keep on going forward. The group leaders, who had taken the decision, handed out printed notices to their members briefly explaining their action. Meanwhile a striscione signed by two other groups, both from the lower section of the curva, Brigata De Falchi and Giovinezza was displayed at half-time: "1996-2006 La vostra Mentalità Mai Morirà. Grazie T.D.R."

Officially, the group has announced that it has disbanded due to the consequences of banning orders which had removed key members and made it impossible for the group to carry on. But it also seems certain that internal tensions and disagreements had played a major role in the split – as ever, it would seem, with ultras groups. Reaction was mixed: in the words of one poster on a message-board 'I can't be sorry about anything that means one less swastika or Celtic cross in my Curva.' A number of people have lamented the end of the group, though, not on political grounds but because TDR made an important contribution in starting and sustaining songs; how is their disappearance going to affect the overall quality of the tifo?

More was yet to come. Rumours soon began to abound that not only Tradizione Distinzione but also Curva Sud 1973 had split up. CS1973 have displayed their banner in the central part of the Curva for the last year and half, ever since the demise of the ASRomaUltras group. They have been by no means a true leading group for the disunited curva, but they have run the central megaphones and been the focal point of the lower section of the stand in that period. And in fact, more than just a group, they were a 'project,' with the intention of increasing unity and coordination, and perhaps one day emulating the much-missed and never-replaced CUCS. But like TDR, their banner was not on display on the 23rd December. Was it just an expression of solidarity with their former neighbours, a kind of farewell, as suggested by some?

No, it appears. Curva Sud 1973 have also apparently disbanded. Given the scrapping which I saw down in their area during the Valencia game it's not really too much of a surprise, I guess. But it means there's now a void at the heart of the Curva. None of the big historic groups – Boys, Fedayn, the new but important Ultras Romani – are going to come down off their vetri (the glass barrier they stand on/behind) to occupy this space at the front. So as for what happens next…. I guess we just wait and see. Next home game is the Coppa Italia match v Parma, and cup games are always a bit quiet anyway… hmm.


Red said...

I am so awed that you are so entrenched in the crazy world of the ultras! Can your informer shed any further light on any of this?

Anonymous said...

What happens to the individuals when something like this occurs?

Do they split up and all stand in separate parts of the stadium or do they simply stop going to the games?

de vertalerin said...

red's right, there's a fine ethnography lurking in there, were the Spangly one to be an ethnographer.

I think you should talk to your friend the Londoner who's a published Italian footy writer, and compare notes.

Anonymous said...

That's like a different world to the sometimes staid atmosphere at games here. It's funny, but I guess the Ultras also 'retire' to the quiet seats eventually. I saw a guy who was a 'well-known face' at Sunderland with his toddler son against Preston. Still Stone Island to the eye-balls though!

SP - your undercover operations remind me of that film I.D. I find the Ultras culture (and hooligan culture in general) a fascinating thing, and your posts about the Italian angle are very intresting. It's a shame, I just wish I could go to football matches and have a drink with the other fans and stuff, but the idiots are a small, if not insignificant minority.

Can anyone recommend an English language book specifically about Ultra's culture, that isnt Calcio (Foot) or Season in Verona (Parks)?

Spangly Princess said...

Neil: there aren't really any, to the best of my knowledge. which is why I'm trying to write one.

Martino: they won't stop going, they will still consider themselves ultras. becuase you can be ultras without being part of a group (though fewer people are) provided you a) have the 'ultras mentality' and b) more crucially, are recognised by other people as such.

Some will go to other parts of the stand, some may join up with other established groups, or may try to set up new groups with those other former members they agree with, some may carry on standing in the same spot just without their ban. I shall keep an eye on it & let you know!