Michael Gabriel on fan violence

It’s escalating in the fan scene: Pyroexcesses and acts of violence in the stadiums have been happening with unusual frequency and severity over the past few weeks. Why now?

We definitely have an accumulation of incidents and also an accumulation of high-intensity incidents. But I’m keen not to mix things up. For example, pyrotechnics should not be equated with violence. Handling pyrotechnics is usually a misdemeanor that is a widely accepted stylistic device in the fan scene, while violence is sought or even accepted by far fewer fans and usually constitutes a criminal offence. Nevertheless, when it comes to the use of pyrotechnics, it can be seen that there has been a tightening of regulations. Unspoken agreements between clubs and the organized fan scenes, for example, that one only lights a cigarette for away games so that the club, as the organizer of the home games, is not damaged, no longer apply or are no longer observed.

There are differences in the use of pyrotechnics: On the one hand, to create an atmosphere that is tolerated by many clubs, but more and more often, extremely in the Champions League game between Eintracht and Eintracht Marseillesthe enemy fan blocks shoot each other with pyrotechnics.

That’s true, unfortunately. What happened in Marseille was really frightening. But even if “only” one or two missiles are fired in a targeted manner, as happened recently in the Eintracht cup game in Magdeburg, it is highly dangerous.

The organized fan scene is diverse: Do the perpetrators belong to a specific group, are they always the usual suspects, or is there fluctuation?

The determination is quite difficult. What is clear is that the actors do not come from the organized fan clubs and do not come from the members of the fan and promotion departments of the club. It is the hard core of the organized, active fan scene, which comes largely from the environment of the ultras. But this environment is very broad.

How are the Ultras and their environment made up, what differences and similarities do the various groups have, and how constant are their compositions?

The range of ultraculture is immense. The ultras as a youth culture have a huge meaning in the lives of their members, especially for the young people, who find a field in which they can have learning experiences that are not possible for them in other areas of society.



Image: KOS

What do you mean by that?

While many youngsters are judged by what they can do in most walks of life, maybe where they come from, at school, at work, at Ultras everyone is welcome, you just have to show commitment and bring it to the group. This can be designing, producing and rehearsing choreographies, organizing trips away from home or other activities and events. Young people find a place where they experience self-efficacy, which is a positive impetus for their personal development. The high level of consistency in relationships and the solidarity that you experience there are also valuable experiences for personality development. But it is also a place where there are dangers when political instrumentalization takes place, right-wing ideologies are propagated and racism is propagated. But contrary to their bad reputation, the Ultras stand for democratic values ​​in most groups. You have contributed a great deal to the fact that racist calls are heard far less in the stadiums and that right-wing extremist tendencies in the German fan scene have decreased.

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