Beyond this shared passion lies an intriguing rivalry between rival ultras from different cities in Italy. The competition is so fierce that it sometimes manifests itself as “twinning” – a phenomenon where two groups of fans merge together into one entity despite both supporting different teams.
Through understanding twinning and how it creates links between competing clubs, we can better explore why Italian fan culture stands out from others across Europe.
The Heyday of Italian Ultras
The heyday of Italian ultras began in the early 1980s, when passionate fan groups of rival clubs first emerged. These fan groups, known as Ultras, are often seen as expressing the intensity and dedication to their teams that is so evident within Italian football.
In their heyday, they brought a combustible atmosphere to the terraces of Italy’s Serie A stadia, with flags, banners, pyrotechnics and choreography all on display.
The legend of Italian ultras has been passed down through generations, with each passing decade adding its own chapter. While initially their activities were focused on providing support for their team on the pitch, as the years passed the scope of their activities began to broaden. Increasingly militant tactics were adopted in an attempt to intimidate opposing fans and players.
The atmosphere within Italian stadiums during this period was one of excitement, but also trepidation. The rise of Italian ultra groups in the 1990s saw their expressive nature at its peak.
Clubs such as Juventus and Inter Milan had passionate fan bases of tens of thousands strong. Even clubs from the smallest cities had their own Ultra group, and these fans would even travel to away games to support their teams in their rival’s yards.
Ultras have a reputation for violence, but during this decade there was also a strong communal spirit among rival ultra groups. They would often come together to stand unified against common enemies like match-fixing, racism and bad refereeing decisions.
By the end of the decade, however, there had been a shift away from such unified action, as instances of hooliganism had started to emerge among some sections of Italian ultras. This was a sad development that led to increased security measures at stadia across Italy and government-led crackdowns on Ultra activities. Since then, Italian ultras have faced several high-profile bans and restrictions in an effort to curb violence and maintain public order at football matches.
Today, while Ultras still exist in many parts of Italy, they are no longer as prominent as they once were. While they still bring an incredible passion to games in their hometowns, meet-ups between clubs have become much rarer as security around stadiums has tightened. The heyday of Italian ultras may have passed us by – but it certainly left indelible marks on the history of Italian football.
Violence and Racism Among Ultras
Violence and racism among Italian ultras has been an important topic of discussion in recent years. It is widely acknowledged that there are extremist elements within the ultras culture which can lead to violent conflicts between rival groups.
This is an issue which has particularly been highlighted in Southern Italy, where there is a long-standing history of organised crime and racism. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile incidents involving ultras groups and rivalries between fans have sometimes resulted in violence and even fatalities.
The ultras are a highly visible presence at the stadiums, often taking up large sections of the stands and actively supporting their team with coordinated chants and flags. While this can be a force for good, it can also get out of hand and lead to violence between rival ultras groups.
This is particularly true in matches involving teams from different cities or regions, which have traditionally been more intense due to the rivalry between fans.
In some cases, the violence has spilled over into the streets and even public areas, resulting in injuries and fatalities. Racism is also an issue which has plagued Italian ultras culture. There have been several documented cases of fans making chants and signs with racist undertones during matches, often targeting players of other ethnic backgrounds.
The Italian government has attempted to clamp down on this behavior by introducing stricter penalties for those found guilty of racism. Despite this, it remains a problem in some corners of Italian football.
Italian ultras are a unique breed of fan culture which can bring both positive and negative aspects to the game. While they often offer intense support for their teams, their presence can also lead to violence and racism if not managed correctly.
It is important for authorities to take steps to ensure that tensions between rival fan groups are kept under control and that racism remains unacceptable. With the right approach, Italian ultras can remain a source of passionate support for their teams without resorting to violence or racism.
Tensions Between Inter Milan and AC Milan Fans
The tensions between Inter Milan and AC Milan fans are well documented, stretching back to the very beginnings of their rivalry. The two sides have been major rivals for over a century and have a long history of intense animosity between them. Although the passions usually remain within the stadium, clashes have occurred on many occasions outside the stadium.
The intensity of the rivalry between these two sides has been described as akin to that of a “civil war” by some, due to the fact that they are based in the same city. Many Italians consider these two teams to be “brothers,” but their intense rivalry often leads supporters to take sides in clashes and violence.
In fact, many have compared it to the traditional derby games between Roma and Lazio. The fact that both clubs are located in close proximity to one another only serves to fuel the passion of their fan base. Fans of each side are known to try and out do each other in terms of noise, colour, and passion. This has become an integral part of the match day atmosphere for all derby games between these two teams.
One of the main catalysts for tension between Inter and AC Milan fans was the years of dominance enjoyed by Inter Milan during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The success enjoyed by Inter Milan during this period only served to further enrage AC Milan fans. However, tensions between Inter and AC Milan fans were also fueled by more than just sporting rivalry.
This ideological divide has caused further tension amongst their rival fan bases, with both sides looking down on one another due to their political beliefs. This has been especially evident at derby matches between these two teams, with supporters of each side often taking sides in what is effectively a political conflict as well as a passionate football rivalry.
Overall, tensions between Inter Milan and AC Milan fans have been around for a long time but have become increasingly more intense in recent years due to a number of factors. The two sides have a long-standing rivalry fuelled by sport, politics, and ideology that results in a very charged atmosphere whenever they face off against each other.
Recent Developments in Italian Ultra Culture
Ultras now are much more involved in creating an atmosphere of unity and solidarity within the group by engaging in activities such as banner displays, choreographies, and chants which are intended to show love and appreciation for the team being supported.
As a result of this shift in attitude, Italian ultras have become increasingly active in social movements and campaigns focused on issues such as racism and sexism in football stadiums. This is demonstrated by the anti-racism protest which was organized by A.C. Milan’s ultras in October of 2018 after two fans of Inter Milan were heard making racist chants during a match between the two teams.
This event was just one example of how Italian ultra fans are using their influence to fight against prejudice in football stadiums and create an inclusive atmosphere for all fans.
Furthermore, Italian ultra fans are becoming more creative in their displays of support for their teams, with choreographies and banners often designed to show a sense of pride and admiration for their team’s players and history.
Ultras may also use these displays to express their feelings towards other teams, such as rivalry between local clubs or teams from different regions within Italy. The displays have become an integral part of Italian ultra culture, with teams often displaying banners expressing their desire to “win or die” or “follow the team until death” during matches or other events.
Lastly, there has been a significant increase in the number of Ultras-related publications produced in recent years, including books, magazines, and websites dedicated to ultras culture both in Italy and internationally.
Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of conferences dedicated to discussing topics related to ultra culture held around the world, showing that this growing cultural phenomenon is becoming a significant topic of discussion both inside and outside of Italy.
Overall, recent developments in the Italian Ultra culture have seen the movement move away from its more militant roots and become more focused on creating fanatical atmospheres of unity within stadiums while also becoming more active in social issues such as racism and sexism. With more publications and events related to Ultra culture being held each year, it is clear that Italian Ultra culture is continuing to grow stronger each year as it gains more attention both domestically and internationally.