Words and Actions: Italian Ultras and Neo-Fascism

Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, July 1, 2008

28 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2016

See all articles by Alberto Testa

Alberto Testa

University of West London - Ealing Law School

Gary Armstrong

Brunel University London

Date Written: July 2, 2008


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 21st century social Agorá, where political opinions- otherwise ghettoized in societycan be freely expressed in pursuit of a wider consensus. This paper explores the under-researched milieu of neo-fascist ideology as displayed in the 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’s 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 21st century and indeed the wider political milieu of the modern nation-state of Italy.

Keywords: Nationalism; Fascism; Soccer fandom; Evola; Sorel

Suggested Citation

Testa, Alberto and Armstrong, Gary, Words and Actions: Italian Ultras and Neo-Fascism (July 2, 2008). Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, July 1, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2728462 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2728462

Alberto Testa (Contact Author)

University of West London - Ealing Law School ( email )

St Mary's Road
London, W5 5RF
United Kingdom

Gary Armstrong

Brunel University London ( email )

Kingston Lane
Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH
United Kingdom

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