The Serie A Ultras guide is back. All these articles are being published on my colleague Richard Hall’s fantastic website The Gentleman Ultra (an absolute must for Calcio fans) and they are also being featured as part of Richard’s alternative Serie A club guide on the Guardian Sport Network.
Having already posted Atalanta here is Bologna – hope you enjoy.
A guide to the Ultra groups in Serie A: BOLOGNA
Key Ultra Groups: Forever Ultras, Mods, Molle Cariche, Via Genova, Vecchia Guardia, Freak Boys, Supporters, Beata Gioventù, Bologna 1982
Other Ultra/Other Groups: S.G.P 1999, U.R.B Girls, Deragliati, Narab Group, Socmel, Capotatti, 051, Fuedo, Lungimiranti, Infoiati, Brigata 1992, All the Bancon, Le Rane, Pascutti Group, Colonna Romana, Freak Tonici Imola, Noi di Bologna 1997, Official Smokers, Gruppo Croci, Turist Group.
The match is Roma vs. Bologna during the season of 2002/03. The Roma fans have choreographed a special display to welcome their rivals from Emilia Romagna – BOLOGNESE AMICO DELLA QUESTURA: SPIA SPIA SPIA (the Curva Sud is littered with these placards) – BOLOGNA FAN FRIEND OF THE POLICE: SPY SPY SPY. Of course the Bolognesi have their view of the Romanisti. “SE IL MONDO FOSSE UNA TORTA DI MERDA VOI SARESTE LA FETTA PIÙ GRANDE!” – IF THE WORLD WAS A CAKE OF SHIT YOU WOULD BE THE BIGGEST SLICE!
Believe it or not Roma and Bologna used to be Gemellati (twinned). Friendly ties existed between two Ultra groups, The Mods of Bologna and The Boys of Roma. This was a friendship forged by Calcio as well as politics with both groups holding far-right ideologies. In the 1995/96 season Bologna were on the brink of promotion to Serie A. The Mods decided to invite their Roman allies to their decisive game against Chievo. Bologna won, but the joyous atmosphere was about to turn sour. Some of the Bologna and Roma Ultras took advantage of the chaotic celebrations and launched a racist attack on a group of North-African drug dealers. One man was allegedly stabbed. It is thought that to save their own skin a number of Bologna Ultras gave the police the names of the Roman perpetrators who were consequently arrested. The Bologna fans reputation was besmirched. For the Romanisti the Bolognesi were no longer friends but the worst type of enemies– Infami, a term used in the criminal world for police informers.
It beggars belief that since the birth of Forever Ultras Bologna (URB) in 1974 the club has spawned 29 Ultra groups (that I know of). It has at times been a story of factional infighting, a swirling morass of competing cliques vying for pre-eminence on the Curva Bulgarelli or Curva Nord. Both URB and the Mods (founded in 1982) have been two of the Rossoblu’s more famous groups. Occupying central positions of the Curva Bulgarelli (a sign of influence) they have been friendly neighbours, choreographing impressive match day spectacles. This does not mean they have always seen eye to eye.
Following the racially aggravated assault URB condemned the Mods and all involved. This coupled with pre-existent political divisions made the relationship a fragile one. Despite the Mods and their extant sub-groups Molle Cariche (Loaded Springs) and Via Genova(Genoa Road) holding right-wing inclinations, Bologna’s Ultras are traditionally associated with leftist politics. This is historical. During the post war years the city of Bologna became a stronghold for the Italian Communist Party. Groups like URB and Freak Boys, the latter whose symbol is a marijuana leaf and motto is “ovunque fattanza” – always stoned became affiliated with the left. Indeed the URB emblem of two crossed hammers has strong resemblance to that of Westham Utd, though one of their leaders states it symbolizes the left and the workers fight. It is also worth noting that there is a heavy smoking and drinking culture in the Curva, especially among some of the Bologna Ultras.
A scrupulous explanation of all the groups that remain would be laborious. Nevertheless it is worth mentioning other Ultras who have been prominent on the Curva. These include Supporters (apolitical and formed in 1979), Bologna 1982, Vecchia Guardia (Old Guard) formed in 2001 whose philosophy upholds the Ultra values of the older generation and the recently formed Beata Gioventù (carefree youth) who replaced the Mods after they disbanded in 2012. Bologna also has a women only Ultras group known as URB Girls. The various groups, factions and alliances can be perplexing however this phenomenon reflects wider Italian culture. Much like Bolognas’ Ultras, political parties in Italy form and disband, quarrel and mould friendships with dizzying frequency and rapidity. It is simply a way of living.
This is not to say the Ultras of Bologna are not unified when fighting a common cause and they have at times been known to showcase their more violent tendencies. In 2005 following their Serie A relegation play-off defeat to Romagna rivals Parma, Bologna Ultras hurled metal bars and weights at police while they smashed through security barriers and tried to invade the pitch. The Curva Bulgarelli is also united in the fight against Calcio Moderno (the corruption of Il Calcio by corporate interests) and against Calciopoli (the scandal which involved the rigging of games by selecting favourable referees in 2006 which implicated many of Italy’s big clubs).
An incident involving clashes between Bologna and Fiorentina Ultras in 1989 saw a 14 year old Bologna fan suffer 3rd degree burns after Viola Ultras launched a petrol bomb onto a train full of Bolognesi. This combined with the geographical proximity of the two makes Fiorentina public enemy number one. Roma, Modena, Parma and many others don’t lag far behind. Bologna Ultras are said to have ties with Ravenna and German club Vfl Bochum which are thought to be political.
Bologna is renowned for its medieval architecture, ancient university and fine cuisine. On match days the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara only adds to the flavour with the Curva Bulgarelli awash with red and blue accompanied by the colourful effects of various pyrotechnics reminiscent of the red rooftops of Bologna.