The ultras or hooligans are groups of fans of a football team who behave aggressively wherever a match of the team they support is held.
Since the 1980s, when the phenomenon began to spread, football hooligans have been involved in fights that have led to real pitched battles, some of which have ended in tragedy.
But, what do we know about the hooligans
Next we will try to review to a large extent the particularities of these groups.
- You can also read: 20 famous photos and the story they hide.
Hooligan: origin of the term and evolution
It is considered that the word hooligan comes from a famous Irish criminal of the 19th century, named Patrick Hooligan, a habitual hooligan who felt a special devotion to mounting brawls. So much so, that the owners of pubs and restaurants hired him as a doorman to kick out unwanted customers. It is said that Patrick led a gang of young people that the police had dubbed “Patrick and the hooleys” (“Patrick and the wild”).
Group psychologists and sociologists who are experts in the analysis of hooliganism consider that in the 1920s they began to be detected in some sectors of fans of Argentine soccer teams, characteristic traits of what would later be called “barras bravas”, a name they receive soccer fans in Latin America. However, it is in the 80s when the ‘ultras’ acquired the fame for which they are currently known.
6 Characteristic features of the ultras
The ultras are organized in penalties, group meetings where they celebrate the triumphs of their team or on the occasion of some important match. They may even have premises that are used as meeting centers, where they prepare before going to the stadium to watch a match, when it takes place in the local stadium. If not, hordes of fans move towards the city that hosts the event in question, making their presence known among the natives of the place thanks to their cave forms.
Some of the characteristics shared by soccer hooligans are the following:
1. Signs of identity
Certain clothing items or symbols are used by the members of a group to increase their feeling of belonging to it and to distinguish them from the rest.
In the case of hooligans, any garment that contains the colorsor the emblem of the team they support: flags, shirts, hats, caps and quirky hats; as well as insignia of the penalty of which they are a part.
2. Use of chants to intimidate the opponent
Discretion does not go with hooligans. For this reason, it is not uncommon to see them sing the official anthem of their soccer team , as well as slogans at full volume aimed at intimidating the opposing fans.
Little by little, the violence escalates in intensity until aggression breaks out, which is the logical consequence of this whole process and is what the hooligans are ultimately looking for; making it clear that sport is the least of it.
3. The ultras use violence
The hooligans’ fame as brawlers precedes them. The fights in which they get involved usually end with several injuries and damage to street furniture. Unfortunately, there are not a few cases of fights carried out by these soccer fans that have caused deaths. In this sense, nobody forgets the tragedy at the Heysel stadium in Brussels: a balance of 39 deaths during the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus.
For those who were not born yet, the images leave no room for imagination:
The rivalry between hobbies whose followers are unable to disassociate football from violence has skewed lives like those of Aitor Zabaleta. This Real Sociedad fan, without being part of any penalty, was stabbed by a fan of the Bastion del Frente Atletico for wearing a hat and shirts of his favorite team, in 1998. Also in 2014, a meaningless fight ended with his death of the fan “Jimmy” , belonging to the Riazor Blues.
4. Hooligans related to politics
This section is not common in all these groups, that is, there are not always dyes of some ideology behind.
For example, the penalties of soccer hooligans in Spain and Italy are both from ideologies related to the extreme left, as well as to the right. Now, with no more pretensions than the display of its symbols, since there is no will to seek social change with its actions.
Having said that, politics is not exactly one of the motivations that we find in the DNA of ultra soccer groups, since if we look at the Birmingham Zulus, without going any further, we see that it is a motley group in which there is room for people of different ethnic groups; so it is not something per se typical of the fans.
6. Bad image for the club
Due to their bad reputation, hooligans give a terrible image of the clubs they “represent”. However,when altercations and incidents like the ones we have mentioned happen , in addition to those others that do not leave victims but a great chaos in the streets where they take place; public opinion is unanimous in taking a stand against the actions of these brutes.
However, many football clubs do nothing about it in order to stop the activity of hooligans, who usually have their own reserved section in the stands of the stadiums so as not to mix with the rest of the fans. The passivity of UEFA and those responsible for the clubs makes us wonder to what extent it benefits them , and how, to do nothing against this gang of thugs who leave a trail of chaos wherever they go.