The Soccer World Cup has arrived. The ball already rolls in the steppes of Russia. Beyond the emotion of the goals and the heat of the stands, an alternative World Cup is played. The most violent ultras on the planet are dated in Russia with messages of hate, revenge and a lot of blood. The threat puts FIFA and the Russian government into a hardspot. Terror ultra takes Europe and we have investigated the most dangerous fans. We hope you do not to cross with them.
Major Firms: Fratria (Spartak Moscow) / Gladiators Firm’96 (Zenit St. Petersburg) / Flint’s Firm (CSKA Moscow) / Orel Butchers (FC Orel)
Ideology: Extreme Right. Homophobia, Anti-Semitism
Rivals: England, Poland.
Allies: Argentina, Serbia, Estonia.
The World Cup is the moment chosen to find glory by all Russian ultras. They have been preparing themselves conscientiously and establishing strategic alliances for years. It’s their moment. They were able to create a terror atmosphere at Marseille during Euro 2016 and now no one can stop them.
Their main rival is England, legendary pioneers of this curious movement that unites violence, football (soccer), and political extremism. The Vandal Dream Team of this World Cup is made up of almost mythical names anointed in a thousand fights and hard paramilitary training.
The most feared are the Orel Butchers. Former Russian military with combat experience in the Chechen War and young experts in urban warfare techniques. They are commanded by the radical Alexandre Chpryguine. The cities tremble before these fans of a modest team that disputes the Russian second division, the Orel.
All ultra organizations mutate during the World Cup time. The fists are allied for a common benefit. The Russian front created by the ultras of the Spartak Moscow, Zenit and Dynamo, is a proof of this. Members of its most prominent factions met in March with prominent representatives of the Argentine barras.
Fratria is one of the leaders of this alliance. Created in 2005, its organized violence has traveled throughout Europe. This season they stained Bilbao blood before a European League match. To reach that level of organization they train in the Russian forests where they prepare their urban guerrilla warfares and become experts in mixed martial arts.
They do not drink alcohol or take drugs. Their only addiction is Spartak and violence and they are ready to hit Russia 2018. These paramilitaries were one of the most active groups in the fights against the British in Marseille during Euro 2016.
An important part of the Russian infrastructure in the World Cup depends on the fearsome Gladiators Firm ’96 of Zenit. In Saint Petersburg, the English national team is staying during the first phase of the tournament. A deadly trap awaits them. The Gladiators emerged in the 90s in response to the fall of communism and like the rest of the Russian ultra factions, they have a radical nationalism ideology and have a murderous urge to dethrone the English.
Its leader Dimitri Troxia publishes in its magazine Testosterone, anti-Semitic and racist proclamations. Notice that the only hierarchy that exists in your group is action. However, his paramilitaries respond in unison to any directive.
Other groups that will form the ultra Russian army, will be the Dynamo Moscow, an enemy of their Moscow neighbors and of Zenit. Members of this hooligans were part of the expedition to Argentina. Neither should we disregard the dangerous Flint’s Firm of CSKA Moscow or its rivals of the Lokomotiv Moscow.
All of them formed an alliance that will shake the security of the World Cup. Something that seems to worry the Russian government. However, ultra bands are used by politicians to interrrupt marches in favor of homosexual groups or opposing parties. Interestingly, hundreds of those involved in the battle of Marseille have been acquitted by a judicial error.
Major Barras: La 12 (Boca Juniors) / La Gloriosa Butteler (San Lorenzo) / La Banda de Liniers (Velez Sarsfield) / Los Pibes de Chicago (New Chicago) / Los borrachos del Tablón (River Plate)
Allies: Russia, Estonia, Serbia
Barras Bravas are the power in the shadow of Argentine soccer. Their arrivals on the stadium are broadcasted on television, extort, and decide coaches, players and presidents. Everyone pays their bribe to keep their fans calm. This had happened for decades. Currently, they have been institutionalized in such a way that they act like a mafia. They manage merchandising and ticket sales. Their members are professionals who approach football (soccer) mas a business or a conventional job.
The ecosystem of the barras is complex. Flags stolen from the enemy and diverse conflicts have forged alliances and confrontations entrenched for decades. Once Argentina plays, the differences are forgotten and they join the flags around the national team. Nowhere in the world, this alliance has a bureaucratization and promotion as in Argentina. The administrations veto and promote the barras according to dark interests.
In Russia, the official Barra will be La 12 from Boca Juniors, with everything that comes with power and money. However, 3000 barras are banned in the World Cup. In spite of it, Argentine journalists have denounced free access of the ultras to the tickets. Instead of buying official FIFA tickets, where a passport is required, they access the tickets of the AFA (Argentinian Football Federation) and sponsors. These include the possibility of having four different beneficiaries without identification.
The barras will be in Russia. There, they will meet the Russians and a common enemy: England. In the World Cup 86, it began a rivalry with blood. The day of Hand of God, the famous goal of Maradona, few noticed the violence between Argentines and English on the outskirts of the Aztec Stadium. The war for the Falklands was recent and the political differences managed to cement an immortal hatred.
In March, Russian, Estonian and Serbian Red Star fans met with Rafa Di Zeo, leader of La 12, in a crowded Buenos Aires restaurant. At the table, they discussed with the leaders of Nueva Chicago, Vélez and San Lorenzo the details of their disembarkation. In Moscow, they will be guarded by Amir Khuslyutdinov, called the Professor, leader of the Spartak ultras.
In St. Petersburg, protected by the ultras of Zenit, more than 200 barras will be ready to face England. In the Baltic city they will have accommodation, food and training. A walk through the allied stadiums of Buenos Aires aired a dangerous relationship.
In Russia, dozens of fans will be represented by their most famous barras. Many of them belong to tiny teams but with an important political power. Among them is Los Borrachos del Tablón. The barra of River Plate has been consumed in internecine wars since 2006. Its weight has diminished in the Argentine soccer.
Currently, two factions dispute the barra with shots, literally. Christian Surgery Szyrko maintains a weak power. He started as the driver of the ex-leader’s wife. Violence is constant among the factions, although in the World Cup they will have a representation among the Argentine barras. Also, Independiente, Racing, Estudiantes, Claypole or Morón.
Main firms: Headhunters (Chelsea) / Country Road Cutters (Everton) / Bushwrackers (Millwall) / Inter City Firm (West Ham) / Runcorn Riot Squad (Liverpool) / Yam Yam Army (Wolves) / Blazing Squad (Manchester City) / The MIGs (Lutton Town)
Ideology: Mostly nationalist and racist
Enemies: Russia, Argentina, Serbia, France, Poland, Estonia
The inventors of football (soccer) and hooliganism face a severe test in Russia. During the 70s and 80s they caused fear throughout Europe and that long road of fury has had its consequences. All the European ultra factions have copied their organization.
Although, the liturgy of the old drunken hooligans to meet them before the game to kick rival heads has passed to a better life. The new ultras factions coexist with their companions and their hatred day by day. They are paramilitaries more addicted to the gym than to the pints of beers.
The British Navy seemed like shy schoolgirls in Marseille in 2016. A new ultra generation had passed them by. Their pride has led them to threaten the Russians with an epic revenge but it seems unlikely. The Russians play at home and have found powerful allies. The English are disorganized and base their strength on a crushing numerical force. In principle there will be 10,000 in Russian lands, although more than 1000 have been stopped at the borders and in principle they will not be able to accompany their companions to the Russian front.
Far behind are the images of Heysel in 1985. Drunken altered people with Liverpool shirts causing a deadly avalanche of Juventus fans. That televised death in the middle of the final of the Champions European Cup stopped its impunity and cost five years without European competitions to their clubs. However, on big occasions they grow.
In the World Cup 1998 and Euro 2016, they were protagonists. Despite the apparent anarchy that reigns in their ranks, the ultras of Chelsea and West Ham have carved a bloody legend. The workers’ club of London was portrayed in The Firm, a great film about the Inter City Firm. Around them, dozens of factions are crowded corresponding to a host of teams. The English finally have the great challenge they were looking for and have promised to avenge Marseille.
Main firms: Teddy Boys (Legia Warsaw) / Wisla Skawina (Wisla Crackovia) / Jude Gang (KS Crackovia) / Brygada Banici and Young Freaks’98 (Lech Poznan) / Torcida (Gornik Zabrze)
Ideology: Neonazi and anti-Semitic in its majority, except the Sede group Jude Gang.
Rivals: Sweden, England and Russia.
The hooligan polish scene is one of the most unknown and dangerous in the world. Their teams are not among the most prominent in the major continental competitions, fortunately. Tanned in fist battles in Polish forests, they know the rules of urban guerrilla warfare. They are well trained. They have no vices other than violence and their extreme ideas. Which leads them to pulverize the enemy without mercy. On the streets and in the stadiums they are an uncontrollable force for any police in the world.
In the middle of a snow-covered forest you can hear some beatings. It is the Ustawka, a hellish rite that serves to measure the brave: punching, martial arts and in the city of Krakow, daggers. Everything you need to knock down your partner or rival depending on whether you are training or fighting to the death.
These fights resolve internal and external tensions. They harden the members of these fearsome factions. The ultra throne in Poland is for Teddy Boys. This neo-Nazi, homophobic and radical formation populates the stands of Legia Warsaw. In Madrid, they met the giant Staruch, their leader, two seasons ago. Together with this man, they form chaos wherever he goes. These anti-Semites convinced and have thousands of trained followers.
The rest of the Polish ultra groups have to live with them and have shown that they are not intimidated. Years ago the main leaders met to settle some basic rules in the Ustawka: No knives. The Krakow groups refused and since then it is known as The City of Knives.
The stadiums of Wisla and KS are separated by a park and barely 100 meters. They are destined to hate each other. The ultras of the Wilsa are anti-Semitic, racist and worshipers of Hitler, their neighbors are Radicals and Semites. Twice a year, when the derby of the city is played, the city is dyed with blood.
Most of these groups were formed in the 70s and 80s. Many of them were fronts of opposition to communism in Poland. Once the Iron Curtain disintegrated, the old formations were integrated into the club’s structures. At present they have immense power and are a key player at the sports and political level in their clubs.
In 2014, it was the ultras of Lech Poznan who triumphed in the Ustawka of Riga in Latvia, gaining much international prestige. However, Teddy Boys and Wisla Skawina have lead the riots between Polish and Russians in the Euros of 2012 and 2016. The Russians have always looked at them with suspicion. The Polish will go to Russia to demonstrate their power before the two titans of the ultra world like England and Russia.
Main firms: Delije (Red Star) / Grabari (Partizan)
Ideology: Extreme nationalist right
Rivals: Croatia, England
Allies: Russia, Argentina, Estonia
The Serbian ultras have transcended their disputes on the stadiums to the battlefield. In the 1980s, they emerged as violent nationalists who used the football to spread ideas that dynamited the Balkans, after the death of Tito. In the stands, a visceral hatred was being cooked towards the different ethnic groups of the former Yugoslavia. For the first time in history, football (soccer) was the prelude to ethnic cleansing.
The Red Star was the embryo of the fearsome Tigers of Arkan. This group began as an ultra group affine to the team. Their violent acts were growing and with the outbreak of the war of Yugoslavia they were enrolled in the Serbian army of Milosevic. Bloody paramilitaries participated in the Srebenica massacre in 1995, where they murdered hundreds of Muslims under the orders of Ratko Mladic and Arkan himself.
Both were convicted of crimes against humanity. Their legacy continues in the leader of the Delije, hero in Serbian language. Ivan the Terrible scares only with his name. His trail of violence spreads through the stadiums without brake.
He accompanies his former military to his team and the Serbian team. Fame of violence precedes him. He has 10,000 warriors, among them several Pink Panthers, members of the famous group of jewel thieves.
In 2012, he made his mark in a qualifying match for the Eurocup by facing the Italian fans with a defiant Roman salute. Last December he clashed with his men against the Grabari of Partizan, an appetizer of what they reserve for the World Cup. The Grabari are their rival.
Its history of violent confrontations goes back to the 80s. Both groups will be in Russia.
Representatives of Delije were in Buenos Aires to join the Russians and Argentines against the English. It did not extend if there was presence of the ultras of Partizan, although it is more probable that they participate in this bloody alliance.
Main firms; La Torcida (Hadjuk Split) / Bad Blue Boys (Dinamo of Zagreb)
Ideology: Croatian nationalism, extreme right.
In Croatia, political tension also unleashed war in the Balkans on a football stadium. The Croatian bleachers roared with such intensity as in the neighboring Little Maracana at Belgrade. Racial hatred and unbridled nationalism rode in Croatian stadiums.
In the early 90’s, a game became the kick-off of the war. A Red Star – Dinamo Zagreb was played in 1990 in a pre-war atmosphere in the stands. The bullets were not that far away. The atmosphere grew hotter and the ultras started a battle that reached the turf. The police tried to expel the violent spontaneous ones who jumped from the stands.
One of them found himself with a policeman’s truncheon. Zvonimir Boban, who was the myth of the Milan of the 90s, spotted the scene. With such anger, he hit the Serbian police with a spectacular flying kick. The image was captured by a legendary photo that turned him into a myth. A few hours later the war broke out. Boban is still one of the icons of the Bad Blue Boys.
They have no declared enemies beyond their hatred for Serbia because they stick with everyone. Veterans of the Yugoslav War do not need many excuses to achieve a dose of violence. Currently, they are faced with the Croatian federation to understand that they favor the Hadjuk, their great rival.
Their fights are so fierce that they turn that match into one of the most dangerous in the world. They are loyal to the first Croatian, ultra-nationalist president, Franjo Tudjman.
La Torcida from Hadjuk is the other big ultra group of the country. Military training and a passion for blood. Few brave people dare with them. Their soccer players fear them too much to leave a game when the authorities forbid the entry of their ultras. At the European level, they are remembered for stopping a Euro 2012 game between Spain and the Croatian national team.
Due to his devotion to flares and violence, his team has had to play games behind closed doors. Does not matter. They have institutional support that is the envy of the hooligan world. They have VIP boxes in the stadium and the Croatian federation does not tremble when it comes to paying a million euros in fines to calm down UEFA and FIFA. La Torcida responds with full support to Zdravko Mamic, the soccer boss of the country. Both will be making noise in Russia.
Main firms: Boulogne Boys and Auteil (PSG) / Marseille Top Puissant and Commando Ultra 84 (Olympique de Marseille) / Mezza Lyon (Olympique de Lyon) Ultramarines (Girondins de Bordeaux)
Ideology: Boulogne Boys and Mezza Lyon: Extreme right, neo-Nazi. / Ultras Olymmpique: Extreme left, antifascist.
Rivals: England, Russia
Football (soccer) in France is a peculiar phenomenon. Their big clubs have a short history compared to other big leagues but they have lived fast. Around them, a powerful ultra phenomenon has developed. French ultras emerged in the 1980s with a clear confrontation between Marseille and Paris.
Periphery and capital have fought the biggest battles, but there are other main players grouped around Olympique de Lyon and the Girondins de Bordeaux, among others. Ideologies contribute to a visceral hatred that unites politics, race and social class. Right-wing and left-wing are back on the French streets.
PSG has historically fought against its ultras. For years they had stayed away from the Parc des Princes, supporting teams such as second-tier Paris FC. But Nasser Al-Khelaifi committed the folly of letting them in to get a boiler in his stadium. Big mistake. The stands of his stadium live a curious war that began in 1990.
The French Federation and Canal + tv decided to eliminate from view the most radical ultras of Paris by removing their presence from television. The Boulogne Boys remained in their background with their fascist ideas and galloping racism. Their model was the stand, The Kop, in Anfield. Their admired fans from Liverpool inherited the taste for blood.
On the opposite curve and away from the cameras emerged Auteil, who developed leftist ideas. Both have been at war since the 90s. Blood, murders, theft of icons and a hatred that will never cease. In Marseille, they hate everything that smells like capital. It is common to see placards that say: Marseille is not France. Their PSG rivals remember them in theirs: Welcome to France. The Marseilles stand is a sample of the multiculturalism of the city.
They do not wave French flags. On the other hand, they are a majority of Maghrebi. They boast of being the ultra group with the most affiliates, more than 30,000. In their stadium they have reserved 27,000 seats. The ultras of Marseille are anti-fascist and anti-racist. Its historical allies are Ultramarines from Girondins and Herri Norte from Athletic, also leftist.
Patrice Peretti is their iconic leader. He went from being one ultra at South Winners in 1994 to founding his own faction: Marseille Trop Pusisant. Another of the icons of the fans is Santos Mirasierra, who was in a Spanish prison during a controversial trial. Mirasierra belongs to the powerful and violent Commando Ultra 84.
Their rivals on the sidelines of Paris are the fascists Mezza Lyon of Olympique de Lyon. Precisely, the Mezza have been accused of participating in the riots of 2016 in Marseille against the English.
Despite this, we do not know what the French side will be. Maybe they will try to avenge France of the Russian terror of 2016, although they always want to face the English. Perhaps, it is the World Cup in which all leave aside their differences to adjust old British accounts.
Main firms: Norstside 0231 Riot (Borussia Dortmund) / Hooligans Elbflorenz (Dynamo Dresden) / Adlerfront (Eintrach Frankfurt) / Gelsen Sene (Schalke 04) / Cologne Boys (Cologne)
Ideology: Predominantly neo-Nazi, with exceptions such as St. Pauli.
Rivals: England, Russia
The ultras at Germany maintain public attention by frightening the stadiums with their messages full of hatred, racism and nostalgia for the Third Reich. However, there is such an amalgam of ultra formations that it would be well worth an article to analyze the German hooligan phenomenon. Recently, the Daily Express warned that the danger is not the Russian ultras but the Germans.
The most outstanding formations of Germany were born after the reunification of the country in 1989. As it happens, politics and history make theirs creating a very marked East-West rivalry. No matter which side of the wall they have been on, the predominant ideology is the far right, racism and radical opposition to immigration.
In cases such as the Hertha BSC radicals in Berlin, the clubs have stood their ground and tried to eliminate their ultras from their stadium. In other cases, like the St. Pauli antifascists, they are part of the essence of the club and the working class neighborhood they represent.
For decades, German firms have matured a visceral hatred of each other by creating deep alliances and rivalries. The Eintrach is one of the most violent that is curiously twinned with the Curve Nord de Atalanta, whose icon is Che Guevara. In German territory Dortmund and Schalke share anti-Semitic ideas and a rivalry stained with blood even on their holidays in Majorca, as happened a few years ago on the island.
Although, the most feared are the Dynamo Dresden radicals, with some violence rates that make them stand out even though their team is not in the Bundesliga. Myths of the stands as the ultras of Cologne were spun off in 2010 due to theft of his flag, something that marks dishonor to a hooligan around the world.
In the midst of all this violence and politics, different factions have come together to follow the German national team. Since the 90s, there has been swastikas and Nazi chants as well as homophobia and much racism. The ultras of the national team have come to embarrass Joachim Low during a game in September last year when they sang Nazi chants.
Recently, in the spectacular Sudtribune of Dortmund, an ultra interrupted a minute of silence to the rhythm of Seig Heil. Nothing that is not heard in the stadiums that visit the Mannschaft. Something we will see in Russia. We do not know which of his classic rivalries will keep the Germans busy. They may assault the challenge of attacking the Russian front or join to chastise the British or go free. The solution to the enigma has not yet transcended.
The Ultras’ World Cup has already arrived. Hopefully it serves as a warning of what happens when the authorities are participants or negligent with football.