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.theguardian - 8 days ago

1312 by James Montague review – inside the world of football s ultras

The hardest edge of football’s soft power – a daring insider’s guide to the violent but complex world of ultra fans Ultras are notoriously difficult to define. They are the most hardcore and extremist of football fans, but while many groups have become criminal gangs, morphing into semi-secretive, paramilitary organisations that accumulate great power and wealth, others are idealistic crusaders against injustice and tyranny. Plenty of ultras are neo-fascist, but there are many far-left groups, too. The ultra mentality is all about the local – your street, suburb or city – but it’s also a globalised subculture in which fans thousands of miles apart influence each others’ songs, protests, politics and philosophies.James Montague has spent many years with them (his subtitle – “among the ultras” – seems a conscious nod to Bill Buford’s acclaimed if flawed book on British hooligans, Among the Thugs). The “1312” of the title refers to the alphabet code for ACAB, an ubiquitous acronym which stands for “all cops are bastards”. It’s that which unites the movement: there is, Montague writes, a “mistrust in any type of authority”. There’s a bloody-minded contrariness to the ultras. It is typified by the word dišpet used by its members from Hadjuk Split: “a term of defiance that roughly means to oppose something no matter the consequences … Dišpet means to be anti-everything.” Continue reading...

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