Football is the sport with perhaps the biggest fan base in the world – and this can sometimes be a bad thing. You know, the term ‘fan’ comes from the word ‘fanatic’, and this is exactly how some fan bases can behave. Football fans are known to take their antagonism to the extreme, getting into fights with fans of the opponents, clashing in the streets, wrecking cars, breaking shop windows, and wreaking havoc. This aggressive behaviour is, of course, unacceptable, but this doesn’t stop us from wondering which country has the craziest football fans of them all.
Boixos Nois means “Crazy Boys” – and it’s a good name for the ultras of Catalan club Barcelona. It is a fan base with a political agenda: at its formation in 1981, the club was formed mostly of left-leaning Catalan nationalists but later deviated towards the far-right. The Boixos Nois was in a close relationship with the club until former Barcelona president Joan Laporta banned their presence at games in 2003. They still attend the games, but they now gather behind the northern goal rather than their traditional point at the south.
The behaviour of the club is a perfect reflection of its name: the Boixos Nois is notorious for its violence, its frequent clashes with the authorities, and some of its members have been arrested for death threats, murder and drug trafficking.
Barra bravas in Latin America
The barra bravas are organised groups of supporters in Latin America, similar to the ultras in Europe. The phenomenon first appeared in Argentina in the 1950s from where it spread throughout the Americas. Supporter groups were present at matches as early as the 1920s, but since the mid-1950s they started to receive financing from the clubs to attend away matches and provoke rival fans and players. Today, each team has its own barra – and things often escalate beyond belief.
Argentine has the most dangerous barra bravas – by August 2012, the country had seen over 300 deaths related to these groups.
UltrAslan was born in 2001 when several smaller groups of Galatasaray fans decided to join forces and offer the team the support it deserves. Unlike many other fan groups in Europe, ultrAslan is mostly apolitical and strictly declines any type of financial support from the team itself. It is most famous for its use of flares – at one time in 2001, a Galatasaray derby match against Fenerbahçe was interrupted due to the more than 3,000 flares lit in the stands.
UltrAslan went down in history as a crazy and violent fan group due to the events of the 2000 UEFA Cup. The supporters of the visiting team Leeds United were subjected to violence – chairs and tables were thrown all around, and two Leeds fans were stabbed to death.
When the fans went to Copenhagen for the final, the city was turned into a war zone – English ultras went to avenge the deaths of their countrymen. The event turned into a riot, with the Turkish side erecting their flag on Copenhagen’s City Hall square, four stabbings, and over a dozen other injuries.