realsoccer: Ultras #1

     |    Thursday, der 22. July 2010

Confession to make: One of the company’s co-owner’s is a soccer nut. That’s me. Die hard fan (and member) of soccer’s finest Eintracht Braunschweig, supporting soccer dad of nine-year-old daughter playing the Philipp-Lahm-position at Berlin club Türkiyemspor’s E-girl-team.

Confession #2: I like to mingle with the ultras in the stadium. Ultras – for those few readers unaware – are committed fans rejecting soccer’s general move into commercialism and transforming fans into customers. Ultras can be easily spotted in each stadium forming a tightly knitted mass of chanting, jumping, flag-waving bodies, mostly male&young. And that’s 90 min. plus half-time-break plus before and after the game (especially ‘after’ as we’re often the last ones being allowed to leave the cage designated for us and monitored by uniformed authority).

Now some dear readers of this might find the whole thing hair-raising as ultras are (often) unjustly confused with the hooligan-scene or right-wing-racists. I’ll leave the whole history of ‘ultra’ to a later post as well as German/international specifics. I’d rather at this point like to point interest to a great film documenting the ultra-scene that premiered at DOK Leipzig last year.

It’s Alexander Schimpke’s 48 min. doc ‘THE PACK‘ (DAS RUDEL) on then 3rd league Berlin team Union Berlin, yet another great production from what I see as the most creative doc school in Germany, the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Something that’s definetely on the list for making an appearance on www.realeyz.tv. Schimpke’s camera exclusively – and hauntingly – zeros in on the ultras ‘at work’ with close-up being the preferred perspective. With this esthetic approach he’s able to develop a pull that takes the audience to the core of what it is to be an ultra, and he does so devoid of commentary and judgmental statements.

Yes, being an ultra is testosteron overdose, but more it’s being committed to a cause, it’s about reclaiming soccer back from corporate interest and degrading entertainment. It’s about taking soccer serious and its traditional roots in working-class culture, a mirror of the dedication and team spirit on the field. Soccer – on and off the field – is after all about cooperating and working for a common ‘goal’ (unlike the heralded ‘individualism’ of upper-class-sports such as tennis or golf).

You’ll never walk alone‘ – the ever-so-popular tune of soccer fans across the world points in the same direction, a direction that links soccer to the general ‘conditon humaine’ where unison is the successful – and only – key to overcoming obstacles, social, political, economical ones, and by thus, there are actually a lot of ‘ultras’ depicted on realeyz.tv called NGOs, artists&activists.

So, don’t you want to be an ultra too?

Yes, being an ultra is testosteron overdose, but more it’s being committed to a cause, it’s about reclaiming soccer back from corporate interest and degrading entertainment. It’s about taking soccer serious and its traditional roots in working-class culture, a mirror of the dedication and team spirit on the field. Soccer – on and off the field – is after all about cooperating and working for a common ‘goal’ (unlike the heralded ‘individualism’ of upper-class-sports such as tennis or golf).

You’ll never walk alone‘ – the ever-so-popular tune of soccer fans across the world points in the same direction, a direction that links soccer to the general ‘conditon humaine’ where unison is the successful – and only – key to overcoming obstacles, social, political, economical ones, and by thus, there are actually a lot of ‘ultras’ depicted on realeyz.tv called NGOs, artists&activists.

So, don’t you want to be an ultra too?