Ultras - History

History

The origin of the ultras movement is disputed, with many supporters groups from various countries making claims solely on the basis of their dates of foundation. The level of dispute and confusion is aided by a contemporary tendency (mainly in Europe) to categorize all groups of overtly fanatical supporters as ultras. Supporters groups of a nature comparable to the ultras have been present in Brazil since 1939, when the first torcida organizada was formed. Inspired by the torcidas and the colorful scenes of the 1950 World Cup, supporters of Hajduk Split formed Torcida Split on 28 October 1950. The group is often cited as the oldest ultras/torcida style group in Europe.

The country most associated with the ultras movement is Italy. The first Italian ultras groups were formed in 1951, including the Fedelissimi Granata of Torino. The 1960s saw the continuing spread and development of the culture with the formation of the Fossa dei Leoni and Boys San groups, the former often regarded in Italy as the first full-fledged ultras group. The term Ultras was used as a name for the first time in 1969 when supporters of Sampdoria formed the Ultras Tito Cucchiaroni and fans of Torino formed the Ultras Granata. The style of support that would become synonymous with Italian football developed most during the 1970s as more groups formed and the active support of the ultras became more apparent, in contrast with the "traditional" culture. Choreographic displays, signature banners and symbols, giant flags, drums and fireworks became the norm as groups aimed to take their support to higher levels. The decade also saw the violence and unrest of Italian society at the time overlap with the ultras movement, adding a dimension that has plagued it ever since.

The ultras movement spread across Europe during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, starting with the countries geographically closest to Italy. The effects on the footballing cultures of the countries involved were more profound in some and less in others, as a certain level of organization amongst fans and/or a tradition of colorful support would have long been present in many countries. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, three countries whose footballing cultures were more influenced by British football in the past, experienced significant change. English football is a rare example of a footballing culture in Europe which hasn't been heavily influenced by the ultras movement.

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