Founded in 1987, the Lazio Ultras – known as the Irriducibili (IRR) – quickly began to grow to become one of the strongest and most influential football supporter groups in Europe. However, since their birth, several scenarios have resulted in a negative image of the association. Today, The Laziali brings to you a post concerning the IRR and how they continue to influence the perception of S.S. Lazio as a whole.
Many have seen the images and videos that were all over the web before the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final against Milan. If you missed it, the content that went viral was of a group of ‘Lazio fans’ (and Inter fans) holding up a banner that stated: ‘Honour to Benito Mussolini,’ the former dictator of Italy and founder of fascism. At the end of the message, three letters were written: ‘IRR’. As reported by ANSA: “The banner was hung near Piazzale Loreto, the square in Milan where the Italian dictator’s dead body was hung upside down in 1945 after his execution, along with those of his mistress Claretta Petacci and other high-ranking fascists; the episode took place one day ahead of Liberation Day, a public holiday in which Italians celebrate the end of Nazi-fascism.”
Winning the match (and semi-final) on aggregate thanks to a goal from Joaquin Correa, calcio fans were outraged, especially the management of the Rossoneri side. This was not only because of the banner but a result of the racist chants and actions towards Tiemoue Bakayoko: throughout the entire match, blow-up banana’s were thrown around in the away sector in addition to a song related to the object and the Frenchman.
Despite the Biancocelesti releasing an official statement after the match, the world has continued to dishonor the entire Laziale community, based on the actions of a group of individuals. Many individuals demand that the rest of the Lazio fan base do what they can to silence and eradicate the Irriducibili’s power, however, they are unaware of the influence the IRR has and what they stand for; they have held – and continue to hold – a firm grip of Lazio.
One of the main issues that people tend to overlook is the difference in meaning between the words UltraS and ultras. While ‘UltraS’ place their personal group and beliefs (may they be social or political) ABOVE the level of importance of the team they support, ‘ultras‘ are just fans similar to that of English hooligans. Also, it is important to note that in Italy, the Curva is often used as a political platform to express and share right-wing views against the State. With this, comes the IRR in the Curva Nord, who fight against the State for not doing enough to put an end to corruption and problems related to immigration, along with the ongoing ‘decay’ to Italian society and culture.
While many of the IRR may sympathize and admire S.S. Lazio, much of what they do and have done is not for the benefit of the club and its fans; they have more to do with football-related activism than actual fandom. This was proven when former Lazio President Sergio Cragnotti was given (too much) power over shirt and ticket sales. However, one of the earliest actions that Lazio President Claudio Lotito took after he got in charge, was to reverse this spell of unwanted control and take back much of the Irriducibili’s benefits. This proves that criticism against the Italian and statements urging for boycotting from the IRR should also be viewed as bullets aimed at a competitor for the control over Lazio as a club and their lost power.
Just to point out that IRR is no ordinary football ultras group, on the night between 5 and 6 of May there was an explosion outside one of their headquarters. The Irriducibili claimed that this was caused by the witch hunt and tension created by media and politricks after the events in Milano. The head of Lazio’s Irriducibili was recently convicted of dealing hundreds of kilos of cocaine in the capital.
One of the few upsides with the IRR’s work is the well-known, beautiful choreography for matches such as the Derby della Capitale against Roma. They also lead most of the chants (in the often half-empty Stadio Olimpico) and organized the away supporter trips. Hard work, this effort has unfortunately been used to try and excuse unpleasant episodes, something that the club does not stand for it. As a result, statements are made by either one of the two parties, usually having an adverse effect on the team itself.
There are always two sides to the story, and Lazio and the IRR are no exception. But the thing is that whatever IRR does, in the view of others, it is taken as representative for Lazio fans in general. The media doesn’t even bother to tell anyone that the IRR is just a GROUP of Lazio fans. There is no difference, no objective explanation. That makes it difficult to even try to change the main view of Lazio fans when you have such a strong force like IRR fighting to withhold it. In so many ways they stand against every form of ‘political correctness’, that it makes it even harder to feel positive it will ever change now that Matteo Salvini and the right-wing party Lega moves forward in Italy.
Lazio fans are surely not perfect, but we are not racists, fascists or sexists as the political agenda of many in the political ultras group of IRR.