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Words and actions: Italian ultras and neo-fascism

[journal article]

Testa, Alberto; Armstrong, Gary

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-460614

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Abstract Over the past two decades the link - perceived and actual - between political extremism and football fans has been the subject of academic, political, and policing debate. It is not rare to witness manifestations of intolerance and ideological statements referring to regional, national and international issues at football stadia. In Italian football stadia, political representation has been evident for decades; politics has been integral to all realms of Italian society and culture since the origin of the nation. As one of the most significant Italian cultural practices, football has not been an exception. This combination of theory and action inspires thousands of young male football supporters. The football stadium might thus be interpreted as a twenty-first century social Agorá, where political opinions - otherwise ghettoized in society - can be freely expressed in pursuit of a wider consensus. This paper explores the under-researched milieu of neo-fascist ideology as displayed in contemporary Italian football stadia. Contributing original material and employing as conceptual frameworks the New Consensus Theory on fascism and the works of Julius Evola and Georges Sorel, this analysis hypothesizes that the neo-fascist tenets manifested by the ideologically-oriented ‘ultras’ fan groups, may be understood as both a consequence of, and a resistance against the dominant socio-cultural and political values of contemporary Italy. The research conducted between 2003-2007 sought to evaluate two internationally renowned ultras groups located in the Italian capital of Rome: the Boys of AS Roma and the Irriducibili of SS Lazio who enact their performances on their respective 'curve' (football terraces) of the city's Olympic stadium. Utilizing the ethnographic method, unique access was achieved in a notoriously difficult research milieu bringing the researcher into the social-cultural world of the participants and to the echelons of the extra-parliamentary Italian far right. Research sought to uncover the groups’ social interactions, values, and political beliefs, as a way of contributing to an understanding of both the Italian ultras of the twenty-first century and indeed the wider political milieu of the modern nation-state of Italy.
Keywords soccer; fan; propensity to violence; political ideology; neo-fascism; nationalism; right-wing radicalism; collective identity; collective behavior; Italy
Classification Leisure Research; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 473-490
Journal Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, 14 (2008) 4
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504630802211951
ISSN 1363-0296
Status Preprint; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution