Atletico Madrid and Liga Clubs Overshadowed by Hooligans off the Pitch

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2014

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 11:  Frente Atletico, the Atletico de Madrid ultras, cheer their team with black and white cards prior to the start the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

On the weekend that American shopping trend "Black Friday" caused chaos across the UK, those involved in Spanish football witnessed far more disturbing scenes.

Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna Ultras clashed outside the Vicente Calderon on Sunday, which resulted in the death of a 43-year-old male, via AS.

The man had to be pulled out of the Manzanares River by divers from the Madrid fire and rescue service.

That was part of a street battle which took place between the two sets of rival Ultras at around three hours before kick-off time.

The match went ahead, despite the seriousness of the incident, as RFEF general secretary Jorge Perez explained a postponement could have led to an escalation of trouble.

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 05: The Fernte Atletico Ultras, fanatic fans of Atletico de Madrid, insult Real Madrid fans at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu outdoors prior to start the Copa del Rey semifinal first leg match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico M
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

"Eleven minutes before the start of Atletico Madrid-Deportivo, Victoriano Sanchez Arminio (president of the referee's committee) received a call from the LFP and another from the match referee," Perez told Marca, per BT.

"He spoke with a member of the RFEF and, with the stadium full and little time left, for reasons of security and public order it was decided that it could be counter-productive to suspend it."

The death of the supporter wasn't confirmed until after the match, which is why there was no minute silence prior to the game.

It's important that the term "Ultra" is separated from just supporter, whilst it's also of equal importance that to be an "Ultra" doesn't necessarily mean to be a hooligan, although there is a correlation.

They are renowned for their fanatical support and elaborate displays, which often include the use of flares.

This is done in order to create an atmosphere that they claim encourages their team and intimidates opposing players and supporters.

However, there are times when some Ultra groups are politically motivated, violent or even racist.

For most, the simple solution would be to rid the stadiums of such congregations, as Joan Laporta did when he was president of Barcelona.

"Football has wanted to look the other way for a long time now when faced with the cancer of the ultras," wrote Jose Samano in El Pais, via Eurosport.

"Their violence does not have its roots in football but it is in football where they have found refuge and approval."

The reason that these sections have been indulged for far too long is that it's far from simple to just eradicate them from the grounds.

Some of these Ultras hold significant power within clubs, and to remove them could make the matter worse before it gets better.

"The presence of violent groups in stadiums has a Freudian element that explains a lot of things in Spain," Manuel Jabois wrote in El Mundo, via Eurosport.

"It has to do with a generalised cowardice when it comes to ridding yourself of something undesirable who loves you or wants the same as you."

The Atletico Madrid executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin has stated: "I am not in a position to dissolve the Frente Atletico," when asked about the section of radical Ultras, via AS.

"There is always one son of a bitch among those 4,000," he continued, which is slightly missing the point as this wasn't about one dangerous individual.

Potential presidents know that if they can call on the support of their club's Ultras, then they have a strong chance of winning any election.

Both Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo and his Deportivo equivalent Tino Fernandez condemned the occurrence.

"I would like to say that this has nothing to do with football. These are radical groups that meet up and start these kinds of situations," said Cerezo in a joint press conference, via AS.

The weekend was then marred further by a bottle thrown from the stands, hitting Lionel Messi on the head as he celebrated Barcelona's late winner against Valencia at the Mestalla, via ESPN.

To add insult to injury, the Argentine was then booked for complaining about the situation to the referee.

A meeting will take place between the relevant governing bodies to see what can be done to prevent further horrific episodes.

Then, there must be significant action taken with the full support of all teams within Spain.

The biggest problem comes from the lack of strength in unity, as everyone has their own hidden agendas.

Spanish football has a tremendous product on the field that will be undermined, if they can't control events off the pitch.


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