Football terraces and stadiums have long been contested spaces politically for working class youth, with the far-right often coming out on top. But still, anti-fascists/Antifa rule many football grounds. Here is Freedom’s Top Ten Antifa Football Ultras!
1. FC St Pauli — St Pauli’s ground the Millerntor is almost in the middle of Hamburg, minutes away from the (in)famous Reeperbahn and close to the famous squatter bastion of the Hafenstrasse. St Pauli, the area, became a massive squatter neighbourhood in the 1980s and at some point some of the squatters started going to watch St Pauli; the team which had for decades been Hamburg’s second team. With them, they brought the punk Antifa mentality and the Skull and Crossbones flags that St Pauli are now famous for and within a decade they had created Europe’s most recognisable Antifa ultras.
2. Clapton FC — Clapton FC was set up in 1878 and is one of the oldest teams in the UK. They only lasted in Clapton E5, for 10 years, before moving east to Forest Gate E7, (bizarrely never changing their name) and occupied the soon-to-be famous Old Spotted Dog ground. Until the end of the Amateur era (the 1960s) the Tons were one of the biggest amateur teams in the UK, winning the Amateur Cup five times, though the last of those was in the 1920s. With virtually no fans since the 1970s, a few intrepid local lefties, anarchists and anti-fascists started to reclaim the club in the early 2010s and now Clapton’s indomitable Scaffold Ultras are arguably England’s most Antifa.
3. Marseille FC — the massive port city of Marseille, France’s second city, is a melting pot of peoples and cultures, French and Provencal, Italian and Spanish refugees from Franco’s fascism, Algerian and Comoran, Muslim and Jewish — and so, perhaps not surprisingly, has long been an anti-fascist city. Its Velodrome Ultras are all antifascists, like here the South Winners!
4. Besiktas — Besiktas Ultras are called [email protected] While the circled A is sadly not an indicator that the fans are all anarchists, they are mainly antifascists. During the Gezi Park anti-Erdogan protests of 2013 the Besiktas fans were not just at the forefront of supporting the protestors, they also played the key role in bringing together Istanbul’s other warring Ultras from Fenerbahce and Galatasaray to support the protests. In the Besiktas area of European Istanbul, numerous barricades were built by supporters to keep police out of the neighbourhood for weeks.
5. Rayo Vallecano — Rayo [lightning] are Madrid’s third team and solidly working class; Madrid’s West Ham or Millwall. And being from a traditionally left-wing working class suburb of Madrid, Vallecas, Rayo supporters and their Bukaneros ultras are overwhelmingly left wing, anarchist and anti-fascist.
6. Omonia Nicosia — The Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus regarded themselves more as Cypriots than Greek or Turkish. They were, and still often are, communists. And so, when the Greek community’s biggest club Apoel came out in 1948 against the communist partisans who had helped free Greece from Nazism and fascism, the left-wing players and club members and supporters split off to create Omonia. The club is, to this day, fervently communist and antifascist, in particular the notorious Gate 9 Ultras.
7. Hapoel Tel Aviv — Jewish sports clubs in Palestine were almost all set up by trade unions or political movements: Maccabi for ordinary Zionists, Beitar clubs are far/Right Zionists and Hapoel [The Worker] clubs were created by the Histradut, the Israeli trade union federation. Hapoel Tel Aviv have been the most successful of the worker clubs, maintaining a bitter rivalry with their right-wing Maccabi Tel Aviv neighbours and Beitar Jerusalem, the biggest racist and fascist club in Israel. While overtly anti-fascist within the context of Israeli society the Hapoel Ultras steer away from criticism of Zionism in Palestine.
8. Standard Liege — Standard Leige’s Ultras Inferno are one of the lesser-known Antifa groups (That could be because Liege is not as “cool” as Hamburg), but in fact are one of the strongest in Europe. They were set up in 1996 and are members of ALERTA, the European anti-fascist network, puttig some of the biggest and best tifo / choreo displays in Europe!
9. Bordeaux — The UltraMarines of FC Girondins de Bordeaux are not one of the biggest ultras in Europe but they do great Antifa and tifo choreos, such as the above!
10. Deportivo La Coruna — In the city of A Coruna, in Galicia on the north west coast of Spain, the Deportivo Ultras, the Riazor Blues, are militantly anti-fascist. There must be something about port cities! Check their choreo.
This is the first article in Freedom News football column. Next one to come: Women and football.
Have any suggestions on what Freedom should write about? Drop us an email to editor(at)freedompress.org.uk