Ultras (Latin word deriving from "beyond" in English, with the implication that their enthusiasm is 'beyond' the normal) are a sanctioned form of sports team supporters renowned for their violent conduct. They are predominantly European and South American followers of football teams. The behavioral tendency of ultras groups includes the use of flares—primarily in tifo choreography—, vocal support in large groups, defiance against police officers and the display of intimidating banners at football stadiums. Consistently rivals with opposing supporters, ultras groups are often identified with their respective team. The actions of ultra fan groups are influenced by racial violence, cross-town derbys between clubs from the same city, and even from poor performances by the teams.

This particular fan subgroup appeared strongly in Italy during the late 1960s when football teams reduced ticket prices in certain areas of the stadiums. [ [http://www.supertifo.it/storia_tifo/INGLESE/storia_del_tifo.htm Untitled Document ] ] Since the early 1990s, the ultras subculture has increasingly become similar in style to the hooligan firm and casual cultures. [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,6903,1123137,00.html Football, blood and war | Sport | The Observer ] ] Violent acts of hooliganism by groups of ultras have led to some deaths, [ [http://www.newstatesman.com/200111260043 New Statesman - The sound and the fury. The white working-class British male football fan has no defenders in our culture. John King on why the liberal left is wrong about the so-called hooligan abroad ] ] as have police reprisals. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7089485.stm BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Italian police kill football fan ] ]

The existence of ultras groups originates from the initial firm formed in the former state of Yugoslavia in 1950. During the tensional period of the Yugoslav wars, patriotic supporters of Hajduk Split—now playing football in Croatia—formed a group known as Torcida Split; this name still recognises the same firm. [http://www.ultrasspirit.com/links/torcida.htm] The second longest standing ultra group is said to be Milan's Fossa dei Leoni (the Lion's Den) which was founded in 1968, which takes the name of the black-and-red's old ground and finds home in the stadium's cheaper sectors at ramp 17.Fact|date=May 2008 The "Fedelissimi Granata" were founded in Turin in 1951, and still present in the ultra line-up on the Maratona curve.Fact|date=May 2008 The Sampdoria Ultras appeared in 1969 (the first to call themselves "Ultras"), followed by "The Boys" from Inter." [ [http://www.supertifo.it/storia_tifo/INGLESE/storia_del_tifo.htm Untitled Document ] ]

Ultra groups are usually based around a core group (who tend to have executive control over the whole group), with smaller subgroups organized by location, friendship or political stance. Ultras tend to use various styles and sizes of banners and flags with the name and symbols of the group. Some ultra groups sell their own merchandise such as scarves, hats and jackets. The ultra culture is a mix of several supporting styles, such as scarf-waving and chanting. An ultra group can number from a handful of fans to hundreds, and often claim entire sections of a stadium for themselves.

The four core points of the ultra mentality are:
* never stop singing or chanting during a match, no matter what the result
* never sit down during a match
* attend as many games as possible (home and away), regardless of cost or distance
* loyalty to the stand in which the group is located (also known as the "Curva" or "Kop").

Ultra groups usually have a representative who liaises with the club owners on a regular basis, mostly regarding tickets, seat allocations and storage facilities. Some clubs provide the groups cheaper tickets, storage rooms for flags and banners, and early access to the stadium before matches in order to prepare the displays. Some non-ultras have criticized these types of favoured relationship. Some spectators criticize ultras for never sitting during matches and for displaying banners and flags, which hinder the view of those sitting behind. Others criticize ultras for physical assaults or intimidation of non-ultra fans.

Match Day

Before big matches, most ultra groups choreograph a large display, (sometimes known as "Tifo") for when the teams enter. Ranging in size, based on financial capabilities of the group, the tifo has been displayed just in the section of the stadium where the group is located or the entire stadium. Sometimes small sheets of plastic or paper are held aloft to form a pattern or to colour the stadium. Other materials used include balloons, streamers, huge banners, flares, smoke bombs, and more recently, giant dolls (as used by Sampdoria's ultras in 2002). Pop culture icons are often used on banners, such as Alex DeLarge (from the movie A Clockwork Orange), bulldogs, or Che Guevara. Galatasaray SK's "ultrAslan" use large lion figures around the stadium in reference to them considering the club to be the king of Turkish football teams with the team name coming from the word saray, meaning "the palace of Galata". Corporate brand logos and catchphrases are also often used. The displays, which can be expensive to make, often take months to prepare.

Some ultra groups, particularly in Italy, have animosity toward so-called "modern football", which refers to all-seater stadiums, more expensive tickets, matches being played at non-traditional times (particularly evening matches), players being bought and sold like merchandise, and the excessive commercialization of football in general. Banners stating "No al Calcio Moderno" (Against modern football) are commonly seen in Italian stadiums, and have also appeared in other parts of Europe.

Ultra groups tend to be highly vocal at matches, with each group having several football chants. The melodies are mostly taken from popular songs, such as "Guantanamera" and "7 Nation Army". Other popular songs, sung in their entirety include "Bella Ciao", "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards)." In most cases, a group leader, often using a megaphone, coordinates the various activities of the entire group, including chants, songs, and banner drops. Fanzines and websites play a big part in the ultra movement. As printing costs decrease and publishing software improves, fanzines have become increasingly more professional-looking.


Although ultra groups can become violent, the vast majority of matches go ahead with no violent incidents. Unlike hooligan firms, whose main aim is to fight fans of other clubs, the main focus of ultras is to support their own team. Hooligans usually try to be inconspicuous when they travel; usually not wearing team colours, in order to avoid detection by the police. Ultras tend to be more conspicuous when they travel and like to arrive "en masse", which allows the police to keep a close eye on their movements. When trouble involving ultras does break out, it usually takes the form of a political riot similar to the ones in Italy in the 1970s when the Carabinieri used the same tactics with the ultras as they did with the political activists.

However, there does appear to be a crossover in some countries between ultras and hooligans. In Italy, when English club Middlesbrough F.C. played a match against AS Roma in March 2006, three Middlesbrough fans were stabbed in an attack that was blamed on Roma-supporting ultras. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/tees/4808246.stm BBC NEWS | England | Tees | English fans are stabbed in Rome ] ] Roma-supporting ultras were also blamed for an incident related to the club's match against English club Manchester United in Rome in April 2007, which resulted in 11 Manchester fans and two Italian fans being taken to hospital. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6528049.stm BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Fans in hospital after violence ] ] Spanish authorities have been concerned about ultra-related violence against supporters of other clubs, such as the murder of a Real Sociedad fan.


Some ultra groups are associated with specific political factions, which results in rivalries and alliances based on political allegiances. Some extremist groups distribute propaganda to members of ultra groups, to various degrees of success. Some ultra groups reject political symbols and national flags and forbid their members to display them within the context of the group.

Ultra groups that are politically leftist, antiracist or antifascist are referred to as Antifa Ultras. They often take an active and aggressive stance against discrimination inside and outside football stadiums, which they perceive as being deliberately ignored by club management, the police and the state. The annual [http://www.mondialiantirazzisti.org Mondiali Antirazzisti (Anti-Racist World Cup)] held in Northern Italy is the largest gathering of Antifa Ultras in the world.

Ultra groups such as Livornos "Brigate Autonome Livornesi", Carrarese, A.C. Arezzo's "Fossa", Pisa Calcio's "Ultras", Olympique de Marseilles "Curva-Massilia",Galatasarays ultra group turk hooligans Ultraslan , St.Pauli's "Ultrà Sankt Pauli" , Hapoel Tel-Aviv's "Ultras Hapoel", AEK Athens's "Gate 21" and Celtic's "Green Brigade" are known for displaying flags with red stars, hammer and sickles, the anarchy symbol or images of Che Guevara. Fans of Ajax Amsterdam often display the Star of David and Israeli flags, and regularly chant "Joden! Joden!" (Dutch for "Jews! Jews!") in reference to the club's Jewish roots. In Turkey, Beşiktaş JK's ultra group Çarşı has an "A" in its logo that is similar to the anarchy symbol and have taken up a political left wing view.

Lazio's "Irriducibili", Roma's "Boys Roma" and "TDR", Inter's "Boys San", Real Madrids "Ultras Sur", Hellas Verona's "Brigate Gialloblu" Espanyol's "blanguizula", Hajduk Split's "Torcida", Dinamo Zagreb's "Bad Blue Boys", and Sporting's "Juventude Leonina" are known for displaying Celtic crosses and Swastikas. In Spain the term "ultra" is understood primarily as "ultraderechista" (far rightist), and some Spanish ultra groups use Nazi symbols such as the runic SS logo.


Fierce rivalries between ultra groups can be found all over the world, although most of the larger rivalries are found in Europe and South America. The rivalries are often based around a basic animosity toward the rival team, mostly in derbies (e.g. Sampdoria vs. Genoa, Roma vs. Lazio, Torino vs. Juventus, Inter vs. Milan, Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray, Ajax Amsterdam vs. Feyenoord Rotterdam, Vitesse Arnhem vs. NEC Nijmegen, Palmeiras vs. Corinthians, Grêmio vs. Internacional, Boca Juniors vs. River Plate, Ahly vs. Zamalek, Panathinaikos vs. Olympiakos, CFR 1907 Cluj vs. "U" Cluj) and some rivalries are based on politics in addition to team difference (e.g. Livorno vs. Lazio). There have also been rivalries between ultra groups that support the same team; based on personal and/or leadership disputes. Sometimes ultra groups try to capture banners and flags of a rival groups; losing a banner or flag to a rival group is considered a big humiliation and the faction losing the banner is required to disband.

In his book, "How Soccer Explains the World", Franklin Foer describes the rivalry between Serb and Croat teams as,"The new, or rather old, enmity could be seen visibly at the soccer stadium... fans sang about their respective slaughters." ["How Soccer Explains the World" by Franklin Foer"] The Ultra Bad Boys of FC Red Star Belgrade, the "Delije" or heroes, and the "Grobari" or Gravediggers from FK Partizan Belgrade formed the base of Arkan's "Tigers", a Serbian paramilitary force who were later implicated in multiple acts of genocide during the Wars in Yugoslavia. The "Tigers" made a dramatic appearance during the Belgrade derby game of 22 March 1992, played between Red Star and Partizan, where they held up road signs saying: '20 miles to Vukovar'; '10 miles to Vukovar'; 'Welcome to Vukovar'. More signs followed, each named for a Croatian town that had fallen to the Serbian army. Arkan was then director of the Red Star supporters' association. [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,6903,1123137,00.html Football, blood and war | Sport | The Observer ] ] When Bosnia-Herzegovina played a friendly game against Croatia in August of 2007, "Croatian fans formed a human U symbol representing the fascist Ustase movement responsible for mass killings of Serbs, Jews and the Roma during World War II". Although in this instance, the Croats used the fascist symbol U as a sign of nationalism, amid new rising of ethnic tensions in Bosnia between the Croats and the Bosnian muslims. [Football Against Racism in Europe, FAREnet.org]


See also

*List of ultra groups
*List of hooligan firms
*Major football rivalries

External links

* [http://www.culturetribunes.fr French magazine about the ultras movement]
* [http://www.supertifo.it/storia_tifo/INGLESE/storia_del_tifo.htm Supertifo.it article on the origins of the movement] en icon
* [http://www.ultras.ws Ultras the way of Life]
* [http://www.mondialiantirazzisti.org/ Mondiali Antirazzisti (Anti-Racist World Cup) website] en icon it icon German

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  • ultraš — ùltrāš m <G ultráša> DEFINICIJA 1. onaj koji je pretjeran u zahtjevima, onaj koji zahtijeva krajnja rješenja (ob. u politici); ekstremist 2. pov. pol. onaj koji se o. 1950 1965. žestoko protivio politici napuštanja francuskih kolonija… …   Hrvatski jezični portal

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  • ùltrāš — m (ultràšica ž) 〈G ultráša〉 1. {{001f}}onaj koji je pretjeran u zahtjevima, onaj koji zahtijeva krajnja rješenja (ob. u politici); ekstremist 2. {{001f}}pov. pol. onaj koji se o. 1950–1965. žestoko protivio politici napuštanja francuskih kolonija …   Veliki rječnik hrvatskoga jezika

  • ultras — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 8}}rz. mos I, Mc. ultrassie; lm M. i {{/stl 8}}{{stl 7}} wyznawca skrajnych poglądów politycznych i skrajnych metod działania <fr> {{/stl 7}} …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

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  • ultras — ul·tràs, ùl·tras s.m. e f.inv. CO TS sport tifoso di una squadra di calcio, spec. inserito in un gruppo organizzato, che l eccessivo fanatismo può portare ad atti di violenza e vandalismo nei confronti dei sostenitori della squadra avversaria… …   Dizionario italiano

  • ultras — m IV, DB. a, Ms. ultrassie; lm M. ultrassi, DB. ów 1. «osoba wyznająca skrajne poglądy polityczne, uznająca skrajne środki polityczne; zwolennik ekstremizmu» 2. polit. ultrasi «po II wojnie światowej: ekstremistyczne francuskie grupy polityczne,… …   Słownik języka polskiego

  • ultráš — a m (á) pripadnik ekstremistične skupine, stranke; skrajnež: levi in desni ultraši v stranki …   Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika

  • Ultras White Knights — UWK 07 (Arabic: ألتراس وايت نايتس) are the leading ultras group in Egypt and are so far El Zamalek s only ultras group; they made their first action on :12 4 2007 on [Fisaly] match.Their first banner was unhurled on 17 3 2007 against Al Helal… …   Wikipedia

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