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Title: Opposing the 'system': ideology and action in the Italian football terraces
Authors: Testa, Alberto
Advisors: Armstrong, G
Keywords: Neo-fascism;Football
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Brunel University
Abstract: Over the past two decades, the relationship between political extremism and football fans has been the subject of academic, political and policing debates throughout Europe. At football stadiums, in Italy in particular, it is common to witness manifestations of racist intolerance and ideological statements referring to regional, national and international issues. Concurrently, there has been a rise in conflict between Italian police forces and hardcore football fans. The fan-protagonists of such episodes are often groups known as the UltraS; the capital S is a neologism of this study to define neo-fascist oriented supporters. The nomenclature differentiates them from the wider hardcore football supporters who are instead referred in this research as ultrá. Despite their presence among the Italian curve (football terraces), the UltraS have been the subject of very limited methodical ethnographic study. The present study seeks to correct this lacuna and is the result of ethnographic research conducted from 2003 to 2006 and updated from 2007 to 2009. This thesis seeks to evaluate the UltraS phenomenon via an examination of two nationally renowned groups located in the Italian capital of Rome. The groups, the Boys of AS Roma and the Irriducibili of SS Lazio, enact their performances on the respective curve of the city’s Olympic Stadium. This research considers the UltraS gatherings as a form of ‘ideological communitas’. In doing so, analysis introduces and explains the four essential elements of the UltraS logic: the principle of non omologazione (non-conformism), the concept of the ‘true’ UltraS; the opposition of Tradition versus Modernity in the UltraS condition, and finally the attempt by them to live up to the ‘Warrior Spirit’. Analysis further identifies the ideological and anti-system based alliance between the UltraS of Lazio and Roma and other similar gatherings throughout Italy. This phenomenon, together with an increase ideologisation of the Italian curve, incidents such as the death at the hands of the police gun of the SS Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri in 2007 (and the concomitant violent UltraS reactions against a variety of institutions) and the appearance in 2008 of the UltraS Italia, may signify the beginning of an UltraS collective identity, and a concomitant emergent status of the UltraS as a social movement, which stands in opposition to the perceived repressive Italian State and its media allies.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Sport
Dept of Life Sciences Theses

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