S.S. Lazio fans
The history of organized fan groups of S.S. Lazio, known in Italian as the Tifoseria Laziale. It began in the late 1960s when small groups of supporters filled the steps of Stadio Olimpico in Rome. They belonged to different groups which were Tuparamos, Eagles, Ultras, Vigilantes, NAB, CAST and Marines, the latter consisting mostly of younger fans.
The foundation of Eagles Supporters
The early groups were not united and so in 1971, the first major ultras group was formed: Commandos Monteverde Lazio, also known as C.M.L. '74. In 1976, the G.A.B.A. (Gruppi Associati Bianco Azzurri) was formed. They renamed themselves the Eagles Supporters the following year. The name was of British influence[clarification needed] and for over a decade, the Eagles Supporters led the Lazio terrace, Curva Nord.
From 1978 to 1987
In 1978, a group called VIKING Lazio was formed, and took their place in the Curva Sud. In this same year, the Eagles Supporters, who originally began in the south stands, made their way to Curva Nord, which became the main Lazio terrace. Other small groups followed the Eagles besides Viking.
During the 1980s, the Curva Nord was admired and imitated by the rest of Italy because of their passion and originality which set them apart from the rest. During this time, Lazio's fans created what is known in Italy as a gemellaggio, or twinning, with fans of Bari, Torino and especially Triestina.[clarification needed]
Despite this decade being one of Lazio's worst in history, avoiding a Third division relegation on a play-out match, the Curva became a major expression of passion, with several travelling groups filling opposition grounds around the country. The club maintained a significant number of supporters despite the fact that Lazio was playing in Serie B at the time. Approximately 20,000 fans followed the team to Pisa and Arezzo, 4,000 travelled to Udine, 80,000 attended a home match against Catania. Up to 35,000 travelled south to Napoli for Lazio's clash with Campobasso and Taranto, two matches which became etched in the club's history and meant that the club avoided relegation to Serie C.
The arrival of the Irriducibili
During a Lazio-Padova match in 1987, a 10 meter long banner announced the arrival of a new Ultra group on the scene, Irriducibili Lazio formed by Antonio Grinta. Irriducibili rose to power in the Curva Nord and revolutionized the way Lazio fans supported their side. No more drums were used but English chanting styles were adopted. This contrasted boldly with the Italian style of the Eagles Supporters, and by 1992, Irriducibili were by far Lazio's most powerful group as the Eagles Supporters disbanded.
With the arrival of the new club president, Sergio Cragnotti, Lazio qualified for European competition becoming one of the world's strongest teams.[vague] During this period, Lazio ultras formed close ties with both Interisti and Veronesi. In addition to these, relationships with supporters of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain developed.
The number of traveling Lazio fans did not drop from the "old days" though, as approximately 4,000 travelled to Dortmund and Vienna, 20,000 to Paris, 15,000 to Birmingham for the 1999 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final and 10,000 to Monaco for the UEFA Supercup despite only being allocated 3,500 tickets.
The new millennium
The Serie A 2002-03 season was an important year for the Irriducibili as they achieved their fifteenth anniversary and in that same year, Lazio opted to retire the jersey number 12, permanently dedicated to Curva Nord.
Currently, the Curva Nord is led by the Banda Noantri; a group which existed from 2000 until 2005 but then disappeared due to some of the members getting banned from the stadium or sentenced to prison. They took over the Curva Nord from the Irriducibili during the season 2009/10, when the leaders of Irriducibili decided to invite politician Polverini on to the Curva Nord, which was not accepted by the vast majority of the ultras on the Curva Nord and on Tribuna Tevere. The Irriducibili now exist on the background and don't display any banners anymore. The current leaders are members from the group Banda Noantri and from In Basso a Destra. Apart from those there are the CML '74. Groups such as Viking and Veterani disappeared since many years now. The Legione Mr.Enrich are based in the old Curva Sud-Maestrelli together with Ardite Schiere. In 2006, Sodalizio was born, allowing fans all over Italy to follow Lazio more actively, home and away matches either.
Lazio ultras' strongest friendship is certainly with the ultras of Inter. This friendship was born around the mid-1980s and has grown stronger in recent years with the 1997–98 UEFA Cup final in Paris and the infamous 2001–02 Serie A season decider on 5 May 2002 at the Stadio Olimpico, when many fans of Lazio supported Inter, their opposition, hoping they would claim the Scudetto instead of hated rival Juventus. The match ended 4–2 to Lazio, a result which saw Inter lose their title on the last day and many Lazio ultras called for manager Alberto Zaccheroni to be sacked.
Another twinning of Lazio was born during the 80s, with Triestina. It was formed when the two sides were both playing in Serie B. On a match against Lazio, the Triestina ultras unfurled a banner, stating in Italian: Welcome Eagles, together we return. The twinning only got stronger recently when, during a Coppa Italia match at the Stadio Olimpico, between Triestina and Lazio's hated rivals AS Roma, the Triestina fans displayed Lazio banners in their terrace.
A friendship is held between the Lazio ultras and those of Hellas Verona. This is based on the two groups both being on the right-wing politically, and sharing the same ultras principles. However, Verona fans are twinned with those of Fiorentina, historically a rival of Lazio, which means there is only an amicizia, or friendship, instead of a true twinning. Another similar friendship is shared with the ultras of Chieti.
Since they first played in Europe, Lazio began to develop friendships at an international level. The most important are those with the Real Madrid ultras known as Ultras Sur, Espanyol Brigadas, Levski Sofia, and West Ham.
The first, with Real Madrid, was born in 2001 during a UEFA Champions League match between the two teams, while that with West Ham grew from the two teams mutual love for Paolo Di Canio, who started his career at Lazio before moving to West Ham in the late 1990s.
During the 1970s, Lazio developed a strong hate for Pescara Calcio, who in return consider Lazio their greatest rival. In the 2012-13 season Lazio played at Pescara and won with 0-3. However the two sets of fans did clash at a Primavera match in neutral Ancona.
The ultras consider both Livorno and Atalanta to be among their greatest enemies. Both of these rivalries were born due to political ideologies, with both Livorno and Atalanta having predominately left-wing fans, while Lazio's hardcore is far-right. Lazio icon Paolo Di Canio and Livorno icon Cristiano Lucarelli have both performed controversial ideological salutes to fans during some of their matches.
- Testa, A. and Armstrong, G. (2008). “Words and actions: Italian ultras and neo-fascism” Social Identities, vol. 14 (4), pp. 473 – 490
- Testa, A. (2009) “UltraS: an Emerging Social Movement”, Review of European Studies, vol. 1 (2), 54-63
- Testa, A. (2010). Contested Meanings: the Italian Media and the UltraS. Review of European Studies, vol 2(1), 15-24
- Testa, A. and Armstrong, G. (in press; November 2010). Football, Fascism and Fandom: The UltraS of Italian Football, A&C (Bloomsbury), London, Black Publishers.