ETERNAL SHAME – Real Madrid and the Ultras Sur

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Real Madrid are synonymous with footballing success and have become a truly universal club, followed by millions of fans around the globe.

Almost everything about today’s Real Madrid is modern and progressive; ranging from their fantastic stadium to their impressive TV channel (available to watch in both Spanish and English), and from the superstar players on the pitch to their superb training complex where their players are groomed.

However almost is the key word in the statement.

Even though the club is now arguably the greatest in the world,  there is something that still tarnishes their reputation (and I’m not talking Jose Mourinho here…).

It is an unfortunate part of Real Madrid CF that still links it to a  time when Spain was not the modern, cultural, forward-thinking, democratic country it is today.

I am referring to a nasty group of supporters who go by the name of ‘Ultras Sur’.

Organized Ultra groups (a phenomenon mainly consigned to latin countries) come in all shapes and sizes, with some having left-wing political leanings, some have right-wing tendencies, while some are completely apolitical.

The ‘Ultras Sur’ however are as far to the right of the political spectrum as you can get and take pride in what many consider to be Real Madrid’s weakness, their alleged links with fascism and the regime of the dictator Francisco Franco.

‘Ultras Sur’ were founded in 1980, when Spain was undergoing a transition from years in the wilderness under the authoritarian rule of a despot to becoming a full democracy.

This was a time when people, especially in regions such as Catalonia and the Basque Country, were shaking off the shackles of oppression and taking pride in in promoting their distinct regional cultures.

They were able to speak in their ancient, traditional languages again.

The ‘Ultras Sur’ saw this transition as the first steps in the break-up of a unified Spain and were intent that in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu at least, the ideology of the previous regime would remain.

The group took their name from the south end of the stadium where they would gather and quickly became popular with young Real Madrid supporters, who may have been attracted more by the flag-waving, the singing (at the time a rarity in Spanish stadiums) and the tough reputations of the skinhead founders of the group.

Within a few years the entire lower area of the southern terrace of the Santiago Bernabéu was occupied by supporters of the group and awash with political flags.

It was the norm to see the ‘fondo sur’ full of ‘swastikas‘, white supremacist symbols and the Spanish flag of Franco’s regime.

In the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s , the group was at it’s strongest and had developed notoriety, not just for their ideology, but for the violence their supporters would cause on away trips against opposition fans.

Supporters of other clubs were not the only victims, as black players would often suffer horrendous, sickening abuse from the end of the stadium where the ‘Ultras’ were congregated.

This abuse was not only directed at black players of other clubs, as Freddy Rincón was to find-out.

Rincón signed for Real Madrid in the mid 1990’s and was immediately signaled out for treatment by the group. It was not uncommon to hear the ‘Ultras Sur’ making ‘monkey noises’ at their own player and the player was even said to have received death threats.

Rincón was forced out of the club after playing just 14 games!

Roberto Carlos and Clarence Seedorf also received some abuse when they first signed for the club.

Jorge Valdano (a man known for his left-wing ideology) who was manager of the club for two seasons was also subjected to abuse from the group when results in his second season started to go wrong.

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5 Responses to “ETERNAL SHAME – Real Madrid and the Ultras Sur”

  1. marcos
    27 October, 2011 at 10:44 #

    Hi, I can see that this article has been written by a person who hasn’t live this by itself and that has read this from other websites or articles.
    Nowadays u can’t see that flags of hate in the stadium.
    The group was founded in 1980.
    Catalonia and basque country have no relation with the ultras activity. the people in that regions were never forced to speak only spanish. It is the nationalism of each region and the interests of the politicians there to make money the reason they promote their language and try to stop using the spanish in public fields.
    Good luck with ur article but…. U are wrong. A lot of things have changed here.

  2. Colin Jones
    27 October, 2011 at 11:09 #

    Hi

    I never said in the article that Catalonia and The Basque Country had a relation to activity by ultras – I stated that US were founded at a time when these regions were enjoying freedoms and autonomy again which were denied to them under Franco.

    As for saying that people were not forced to speak Spanish, you are wrong and are trying to rewrite history – therefore instead of accusing me of not having ‘lived’ the history of the US, I suggest you investigate more the history of Spain under Franco (especially up until the late 60′s early 1970′s, when some restrictions were lifted) and the intolerance of any languages that were not Castillian.

    Regarding the date the group was founded, yes my mistake, apologies.

  3. missingpage
    23 January, 2012 at 22:05 #

    Great article! Thorough and spot on… Big thanks :)

  4. Juan
    23 January, 2012 at 22:12 #

    Brave article. It’s a subject the mainstream correspondents in Madrid never really dig into.

    Yesterday there were again chants against the Basques, chants against Catalans are a classic, as are the “monkey” noises against black players of the other team.

    And they’re still getting support of the club, they get room in the stadium to store their flags and other things, they get early entry to the stadium to put everything ready, they have a package of tickets reserved for away games, etc. And Mourinho has praised them several times as an example – in terms of cheering the team on – for the other fans.

  5. RM1902
    26 January, 2012 at 18:17 #

    To Colin Jones.

    Clearly you dont know about football and the ultras culture!

    I am defending the Ultras Sur because they are the ones how support the club in every singel game, no matter if its a home game or a away game. Every club in Europe have a ultras group that are willing to die for the clubs color. So is not so nice and easy to just throw them out of the stadium because of what they have done for the club.

    I suggests that you learn much more not a little more about the Ultras culture and about football before you writte anything about football next time.

    ps my english is not so good.

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