Saturday, June 15, 2024

The 10 Biggest Ultras Groups in the World

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Throughout world football, there are often groups of people that feel so attached to the clubs they support that it exceeds normal fandom or support. These individuals form together, over many years, creating fan groups dedicated to the club and their beliefs – these are more commonly known as ‘Ultra Groups’.

Ultra groups date back to the 1930s, where there were evident groups of individuals who associated themselves strongly with football teams in Brazil – these then grew across the world with the first known ‘Ultra Group’ being that of Hajduk Split in 1950, where the Torcida Split was formed by the fans of the club.

The ideology of the ultra movement has developed world over, and hundreds, if not thousands, of fan groups, have been formed from them until the present – with a strong presence in Europe and especially Italy. Here, we at Football FanCast have taken a look at the Top 10 Ultra Groups world over…

Hajduk Split – Torcida Split

It would make sense to start with the original ultra group of Europe. Torcida Split was formed by a group of students in Zagreb, after witnessing the passionate crowds from Brazil during the 1950 World Cup.

They are regarded as the oldest organised supporter group in Europe, and they are extremely dominant across Dalmatia – with strong relationships with the ultra groups of Benfica, Saint Etienne, the Polish club Gornik Zabrze, and fellow Dalmatian ultra group Tornado Zadar.

The group has branches in countries across the globe, primarily in places with strong Croat communities.

Dinamo Zagreb – Bad Blue Boys

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Another addition from Croatia, the ‘Bad Blue Boys’ or BBB for short, are the ultra group of Dinamo Zagreb and was founded in 1986 in Zagreb itself, and the name for the group was inspired by the 1983 Sean Penn film ‘Bad Boys’.

The BBB had offered great support to the first Croatian president Franjo Tudman during 1990 after the countries independence from Yugoslavia – but that relationship broke down after Tudman tried to change the name of the club to NK Croatia, forcing the BBB to turn against him. The group has a strong relationship with Panathinaikos FC ultra group Gate 13, Dynamo Kyiv, Dinamo Tbilisi, and AS Roma (Fedayn).

In August 2023, the group were implicated in a mass brawl that led to the death of a 29 year old fan when 120 members travelled to AEK Athens for a Champions League playoff game against the Greek side despite being told not to. The ensuing fight injured eight fans, leading to 104 fans being arrested by the Greek authorities.

Ferencvaros – Green Monsters

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Hungarian club Ferencvaros has a ferocious amount of support from their ultra group ‘the Green Monsters’, or B-közép in Hungarian. Formed in 1995, the group is known for there fanatic support of the club and have a strong rivalry with fellow Budapest club Újpest’s ultra group.

The group boycotted Ferencvaros games back in 2015 after the Hungarian FA deployed a palm print system to identify fans going into the stadium to try and put a stamp on the ultra group’s support, but these decisions were later overturned and the Green Monsters got their way over the FA. Despite being a smaller club, the support from the Green Monsters is some of the best in Europe, and are one of the most violent ultra groups around.

River Plate – Los Borrachos Del Tablón

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The fans of the Argentinian side River Plate are one of the most fierce in Argentina and all of South America. Known as Los Borrachos del Tablón, the group is more commonly referred to as a barra brava rather than an ultra group, which are Argentinian supporter groups that provoke violence from other fan groups.

The club’s explosive rivalry with Boca Juniors is known across the world, as is the rivalry of the fan groups – with games between the pair often resulting in bloodbaths, with one Boca Juniors fan being shot in 2002, causing the ‘superclasico’ to be suspended.

St Pauli

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An ultra group that differs from the rest – the fans of German Bundesliga 2 club St Pauli – are known for their left-wing ideology. The fans model themselves as anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-sexist, and often come into conflict with neo-nazi groups and hooligans of away teams at away games.

The group is very inclusive and progressive with their political views, something that has earned them their fame in the footballing world. The fans have great relationships with the fan of Ternana, Rayo Vallecano, SV Babelsberg 03, Partizan Minsk, Hapoel Tel Aviv, AEK Athens, and Celtic.

Their rare political stance in the world of football has also earned them a significant following outside their native Hamburg as well, including a supporters group in India called the ‘Raj Pauli.’

S.S. Lazio – Irriducibili

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The ultra group of SS Lazio, known as the Irriducibili, is one of the most hated and violent in all of world football. In stark contrast to the ultra’s of St Pauli, the group has never shied away from expressing their neo-nazi affiliation and have often posted banners in support of Arkan, a Serbian war criminal, and ones of Nazi affiliation.

There strong rivalry with AS Roma is also well documented, with the Derby Della Capitale being one of the biggest derbies in not just Italian, but world football. The group are well known for their fascist behaviour, with rival and even their own players being subject to racial abuse from the Curva Nord – all of which is why many fans world over have such hatred towards the group, and rightly so.

Red Star Belgrade – Delije

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The ultra group of Serbian side Red Star Belgrade refers to themselves as Delije, which is loosely translated to “Heroes, “Braves, or “Studs”. The group has links all the way back to the 1940s but were formally named and created in 1989 – and are known for their proud Serbian nationalism, and enjoy strong friendships with the supporters of Olympiacos and Spartak Moscow due to their shared Orthodox faith.

One of the darkest and most violent moments in the group’s history came during a 1990 game against rivals Dinamo Zagreb, in which the Delije and the Bad Blue Boys violently clashed in and around the stadium following heightened tensions in the region. Whilst obviously not a leading cause for the Yugoslav wars, the event captured the sentiment of the time and has since been dubbed the ‘match which started a war.’

Galatasaray S.K – ultrAslan

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Often seen as the largest organised fan group in the world, with an estimated 100,000 members, the ultrAslan was born in 2001 after Galatasaray were starting to become a successful and well regarded European club – this led fan Alparslan Dikmen to create the group, and was the leader until his untimely death in 2008.

The group is renowned for their creativity in displays, and even brought 3000 flares to a game against Fenerbahçe in 2001 which interrupted the game – this led to the Turkish FA banning the use of pyrotechnics at games with tough fines for the club’s if used. Unlike many other ultra groups across Europe, the group are apolitical, but still very patriotic towards the club and are considered to be one of the more dangerous ultras groups in Europe.

S.S.C. Napoli

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Napoli is the fourth most supported club in all of Italy – behind only Juventus and the two Milan clubs – and their fans make it known. The club has many different ultra groups, but the most notable being Commando Ultras Curva B, ultras Napoli, and Fedayn – all of which are very proud and supportive Neapolitans and Napoli fans.

The club was one of the first to gain ultra group support in Italy and was also the first club to use firecrackers in the stadium, which later became flares and pyrotechnics. Recent events of violence have put a damper on their name, with gangs inciting violence and carrying weapons have attacked fans of visiting teams.

Olympique de Marseille – Commando Ultra 84

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French club Marseille are known for having some of, if not the most, passionate support in world football – and the ultra group Commando Ultras 84 epitomise that support. The group was founded in 1984 – making them the oldest ultras group in France – and are well known for their use of banners and tifo’s to create mesmerising displays at the Velodrome in support of their club.

Their rivalry with PSG – especially their ultras the Bologne Boys – is one of the fiercest in Europe, and games often can get quite hostile. This ferocity is only further enflamed due to CU84’s generally left-wing persuasion – something the Bologne Boys certainly don’t share.

If you ever go to Marseille, it becomes very evident very quickly that OM is more than just a football team to the people of the city; something made all the more apparent by groups such as Commando Ultra 84.

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