Definition of Ultras

When one thinks of football fans, they might picture flares, giant tifos (visual displays or choreography) or loud vocal chants. What they are picturing are groups that are commonly referred to as "ultras".

Who are the Ultras in the world of football?  Illustration.  What is the origin of the term?The term "ultra" originated in Italy, though has spread throughout the world to describe groups of supporters that are fanatical in their support for a particular team. Where the first group of ultras appeared is disputed, though some of the first groups appeared in Brazil as early as 1939 with the first torcida organizada being formed.

One country that is particularly associated with ultras is Italy. While groups such as the Fossa dei Leoni and Boys San formed to support the Milan clubs in the 60s, the term ultra really started appearing with the formation of the Sampdoria organization Ultras Tito Cucchiaroni and Torino formed the Ultras Granata.

Many of the ultra groups formed have been influenced by strong political influences and reflect this in their support. The S.S. Lazio Ultras are famous for their use of fascist slogans and signs. On the flip side, the ultras of A.S. Livorno Calcio regularly unfurl tifos celebrating Joseph Stalin's birthday or Hugo Chavez's death. A common target of modern ultras is the commercialization of the sport of football.

These organizations are active in other countries. Germany's St Pauli ultras are famous for their left-wing political displays. Red Star Belgrade also has a devoted group of nationalistic ultras. In Argentina, River Plate's fans often make the headlines more than their club does due to their wild devotion to the club.

At the end of the day, one cannot question how loyal an ultra is to their club of choice. They might regret it.