Definition of Tifo

What is the meaning of the term 'tifo' when it comes to the sport of football / soccer?

Pictured is the famous Borussia Dortmund tifo of their at the time departing manager Jurgen Klopp.When one thinks of the club Borussia Dortmund, one of the first images that come to mind is the giant yellow wall with an image raising up. Whether that be a picture of the city of Dortmund, a skull, or the famous man with binoculars, these large displays have garnered admirers all over the world. These designs and demonstrations are what's known as 'tifos'.

Both the name and culture around the tifos originate in Italy and Southern Europe in combination with the rise of ultras. The designs of these banners, flags signs or banners are made by groups of supporters known as 'tifosi'. Tifos are generally brought out before important matches or local derbies. The more important or fierce the history is to the fans, the more likely a large or impressive tifo will be unveiled.

While the tradition originated in Southern Europe, it has spread throughout the world. Clubs in America have particularly embraced the tradition, with FC Cincinnati, Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers all regularly displaying these large displays before their games.

The tradition is not without controversy. There was some debate when Legia Warsaw in Poland unveiled a (quite impressive) tifo honouring the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 back in 2017. It showed a German soldier holding a gun to a Polish child's head, with the phrase 'During the Warsaw uprising Germans killed 160,000 people. Thousands of them were children.' Not all tifos are simply to celebrate the rivalry of sport.

The spread of the tradition has created some of the most stunning sights in football. Fortunately, looks set to continue for a while yet.