In 2001, A.S Roma’s ¨giallorossi¨ prepared a colossal banner for the derby against their city rival, S.S Lazio. Roma was the [Serie A] champion, and the occasion called for something poetic. When the Roma squad came onto the pitch, the Curva unveiled its’ enormous homage, ¨Look up, the Sky’s the Limit¨ read the text. Seconds later, the Lazio Curva unravelled another banner, equal in size,
¨You’re right. And it’s white and blue¨
[cit.] Enric Gonzalez, ¨Historias del Calcio¨
The Irriducibili are a division of erratic Lazio supporters that provide a face to the name ¨UltraS¨. The UltraS are not to be confused with some ¨ultras¨, which are comparable to English hooligans. UltraS place their personal group and beliefs (may they be social or political) ABOVE the level of importance of the team they support.
The Irriducibili, which has been translated as ¨The Immovables¨ and ¨The Unshakables¨, made their debut during a Lazio-Padova match in 1987. Their birth was proclaimed through an 11-meter long banner that was draped across the Curva Nord. From this day on, this section of the Stadio Olimpico has been under their control, ¨outsiders¨ being accepted on an invite-only basis. Something particularly interesting about the Unshakables is the pecking-order of the groups’ hierarchy. Alberto Testa, in his book ¨Football, Facism, and Fandom¨ comments,
¨Though [the leader] comes from a working-class background, he is in charge of a group with many members from middle-class backgrounds. This social dynamic is also present in the Boys Roma. This cross-class element has been characteristic of Italian hardcore tifosi since they first existed.¨
What placed the Irriducibili in the international spotlight was their violent brawls and fascist ideology. The headlines speak for themselves, ¨Fan stabbed in Roman Derby¨, ¨Tottenham Supporters in Critical Condition¨, to name a couple on a fairly extensive list. Although these events are not specifically connected to the Immovables, the ¨biancocelesti¨ UltraS are not to be messed with.
In 2011, another controversy came about when German international and current Lazio man Miroslav Klose was glorified in the Curva with a banner that wrote ¨KLOSE MIT UNS¨ meaning ¨Klose is with us¨. The slogan comes from a Nazi military slogan ¨GOTT MIT US¨ meaning ¨God with us¨ used during the Second World War. Polish-born Klose was quick to separate himself from the event, stating ¨football cannot be mixed with politics.¨
BBC News dedicated a documentary to the Irriducibili, where we witness several examples of physical confrontations between the UltraS and other supporters, police, and even with their own players. The documentary follows one of the leaders of the Unshakables, a tattoo-clad man called Massimo. The surprising detail uncovered in the documentary is the level of power that these UltraS hold. After a disappointing performance by Lazio, the group storms a training session outside of Rome. The filmmakers are shocked to see that Massimo and his men are able to arrange a post-training meeting with then captain Alessandro Nesta in order to vent their furies.
¨You mean you can’t do this in England?¨ asks Massimo nonchalantly.
The groups power has even gone as far as influencing potential transfers. Lillian Thuram, who refused to join Lazio due to their racist ideology was pressured to change his mind. ¨We wanted to show him that everything’s fine. We’ve got a black guy on the youth team and we all get on fine with him¨ explained Massimo
Thuram, however, wasn’t so optimistic.
¨I don’t even know how they managed to get in and talk to me.¨
Above all, the Irriducibili have a special place in their hearts for one man – Paolo Di Canio. The former West Ham player, now Sunderland manager and Lazio fan was a bit like Dr. Jekyl and Mr.Hyde when you summarise his actions on the pitch. After attacking a referee, he was banned for 11 matches. Contrastingly, he also won the FIFA Fair Play Award after stopping his attack on goal when the opposing teams’ goalkeeper injured himself.
Paolo Di Canio and the Irriducibili were a match made in heaven, not to mention, he used to be one of them as a teenager. Di Canio defines himself as a ¨sympathiser with facism¨ and if this statement isn’t clear enough, you can zoom-in on his arm, where you can see a ¨DUX¨ tattoo.
DUX, Latin for ¨leader¨stands for Duce, a reference to former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Therefore, it was love at first sight when Di Canio’s post-goal celebration consisted of running toward the Curva and giving them a fascist salute.
Di Canio doesn’t find the Irriducibili’s violence irrational, like the rest of the country. Although he re-affirms that he ¨doesn’t support¨ their actions, he can identify with the frustration of seeing a team play below its potential. In the BBC interview, Massimo confirms the groups ambitions.
¨They [footballers] are paid millions, and we want to make sure [future players] think twice before signing that contract. We will show them the videos from the stadium, and the confrontations at the training grounds.¨