A Bosnian football story (English version)

Hi there, my good friend Iván from the Spanish casual brand Izquierda Casual asked me to do a little research and to tell you guys something more about the Bosnian football scene.

First of all, Bosnia is a small country in Southeast Europe, with approximately 4 million people living there. The country gained its independence in 1991, after that the bloody war in former Yugoslavia started, with all of its parts broken down. This was soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union. This was the end of communism in Europe.

The bloody war in Bosnia was long, the Siege of Sarajevo was the longest in modern warfare history, longer than the Siege of Stalingrad and Leningrad. May the lord open up the gates of heaven for all my fellow Bosnians, relatives, family members and others who gave their lives for our beloved country. Enough said about Bosnia.

BHFanaticos

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The real reason why I wrote this article is to bring you the Bosnian football scene as close as you can imagine and close as possible. The biggest and most popular firm is called BHFanaticos, the group was founded in late December 2000 in Malmö, Sweden.

Seven guys, who never met before in life, started an idea spreading across the Internet to unite all Bosnian ultra groups and fight and support their country. This happened all on trust, can you imagine that nowadays? One of the first away games was the one in Oviedo, if I remember well it was on the 2nd June 2001, qualifiers for the World Cup campaign in Japan & South Korea. We lost that game 4-1 to Spain, but this was the beginning of a never-ending story. You can say a never-ending love story. I don’t think Bosnia got any supporters before, people always loved our national team and supported it before the group was founded. I remember my first game, in 2001 against Austria, still 17 years after that I remember it very well. I was a little child, my father took my hands and said: “no matter where you grow up, never forget the country where you from!” But let’s talk more about the main topic, I am not the important part of this story, hence my goosebumps and my emotions.

With the growing social media and the many platforms across the Internet, the group got bigger and bigger, surprisingly to the success of the Bosnian national team. We always had more than an average team, that’s not only my opinion, that’s everyone’s. We had many good players, for example Elvir Bolic, he was my childhood idol. This guy scored a fantastic goal for Fenerbahce of Istanbul against Manchester United and ended an unbeaten 40 year home run in Europe for the Red Devils!

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I could go on about many legends who played for Bosnia, Sergej Barbarez, Mirsad Hibic, Elvir Baljic, Hasan Salihamidzic and many others.

BHFanaticos are now everywhere around the globe, the group has about 1,300 members worldwide, based in the United States, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

You might be wondering, why there are so many Bosnian people living across so many different countries. You will find your answer at the beginning of the text. Most of them are refugees from the bloody war in our country, but the most members still live in Bosnia.

Trips

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The next topic, is about trips, Iván asked me to tell you something about the trips and incidents. Well, first of all, we are not a hooligan group, I would say, we are more an ultra patriotic group.

People who are proud of what they are, where they are from and always supporting Bosnia in the best way, sure, sometimes incidents happen, especially against big rivals, in this case, our neighbours, Serbia and Croatia. There have been several attacks and fights, whenever we play one of those teams, football, basketball, handball, always something will happen.

The biggest riot was against Serbia, it was the game for the World Cup Qualifying Campaign in 2005, the Serbs started provoking the Bosnian fans by singing “Bosnia will be the heart of Serbia“, also they somehow managed to bring a banner into the stadium, which the police somehow missed. It said “Serbian Sarajevo“. After that, Bosnian fans tried to attack the away sector, which was surrounded and better protected than the visit of the US president in Bosnia. They managed to steal the banner days after, and burnt it!

They also burned the bus from the Serbian national team. There were big riots in the returning game, Bosnian fans were attacked at Marakana Stadium, of nearly 50,000 people of capacity. Bosnia took only about 700-1,000 there, very brave, those people are nowadays heroes in our country. Serbian fans attacked them with pyro, knives, bricks and a lot of other things. I am still wondering, how can you bring all that into the stadium? Well, we should ask the Serbian police I reckon.

Through the years, several incidents happened, against Croatia, Albania, Romania, Greece, but let’s talk about this the next time, I don’t want you to get bored, I could easily write a book about this topic, maybe I should? Let’s talk more about trips and peaceful things, like I said in the beginning, we are not hooligans, we are tifosi and ultras.

Our group travels a lot, we have been to Portugal, Spain, Andorra, France, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, San Marino, Malta, Romania, Moldova, Israel, Macedonia, Greece, nearly every country had discovered our group in large numbers. Oh, i forgot the United States and the World Cup in Brazil.

By large I mean really large, we are probably the biggest, if not the biggest, but the worlds most organised supporting group across the globe probably only England and Wales take the same amount to away games like we do. But I am pretty sure that we take the most. Much love to my fellow English and Welsh friends, which I have a lot! I am sure you don’t mind my last sentence.

We support Bosnia not only in football, but also Basketball, which is very popular in the Balkans, handball, hockey, even some members managed to support Bosnian tennis player Damir Dzumhur at the Australian Open. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s a fact. Also we support our ladies, in the same sports but not that often, but whenever the opportunity arises we will.

Like I said before I could write for days and days about this, probably years but I don’t want you go get bored. The next thing my lovely friend from A Coruña asked me is to tell you more about our ultra groups from Bosnia. I will name only the two most important and biggest ones.

Ultra groups from Bosnia

Horde Zla 1987

Hordes of Evil or Gang Evil (in English) is the organised ultras group from Bosnian football club FK Sarajevo, apart from this club they also support KK Bosna Royal (basketball) and RK Bosna Sarajevo (handball).

Horde Zla is one of two major football fan groups in Bosnia & Herzegovina, they have their place on the North stand of Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium, also known as Kosevo Stadium, (this place was the opening scene for the Olympic Games in 1984), the most passionate and most loyal fans have their seats there, together with a lot of subgroups: Outlaws, Vutrasi, Fina Gradska Raja and Downtown.

FK Sarajevo enjoy a lot of support in our whole country and has several groups in other Bosnian cities as well. The group has very close relations to the ultras from German city Dresden, called Dynamo Dresden Ultras.

An urban legend says that in the game against Red Star Belgrade, on 17th April 1986, a hand painted maroon snake was thrown off the eastern stand onto the visitors’ bench. After panic, mass media pressure at that time, the club management director Svetozar Vujovic opened the North stand of the Kosevo Stadium for the most fanatic fans, the North stand was not popular at that time, but was found to be the most adequate because it was the furthest from the pitch.

The club colours are maroon white and the slogan of the club is “Do zadnjeg dana zivota mog, samo Sarajvo!” which means “To the very last day of my life, only Sarajevo!”

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The Manics 1987

The Manijaci are ultras of Bosnian football club FK Zeljeznicar Sarajevo, also they have a lot of subgroups like Blue Tigers, Joint Union, Urban Corps, Stari Grad and Vendetta.

Zeljeznicar always have great support from fans all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and in former Yugoslavia as well. They have mainly been supported by working class people, their city rivals FK Sarajevo are upper class.

They are located on the South stand of Grbavica Stadium which was the direct frontline in Bosnian War and a very important point in the Siege of Sarajevo. Many Maniacs, just like the Horde Zla, joined the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Zelene Beretke (Green Berets). One of them was Dzevad Begic. Djilda, he was one of the founders of The Maniacs and at the same time their leader. Sadly he was killed by a sniper shot during the Siege of Sarajevo. Rest in peace!

A lot of people don’t know this fact, but there is a small group of Maniacs in Argentinian city called Mar de Plata. Their leader Marcelo Torre is a passionate fan of Boca Juniors, he met a girl from Sarajevo who is a Zeljo fan and after his visit, his love for the club started.

The Maniacs have also very good relations with Ferencvaros Budapest. The club colours of Zeljo are blue and white and their slogan is “Zeljeznicar za zivot cijeli”, which means “Zeljeznicar for entire life”.

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Clothes

The last part of my article is about casual fashion and clothing on the terraces. Due to the fact that Bosnia is a very poor country, they are not many people who wear Stone Island, CP Company or other expensive stuff.

Mostly people like to wear stuff from Ellesse, Sergio Tacchini, Adidas, Nike, Lyle & Scott and other sport brands. Most common trainer brands are Adidas or Nike.

Another reason why many people do not wear high branded stuff is that there isn’t much available on the market and people have to order from outside. From time to time relatives or friends will bring them things.

Well, that’s it. I hope you liked my introduction to the Bosnian football scene, there are many more stories of us, but I can’t take your whole day to read it. If you ever have the chance to visit Bosnia I can only say, DO IT! You will not regret it. I can assist you or maybe be your travel guide one day.

This article is dedicated to all my friends around the world, to my parents who taught me so much about the history, to all my friends I unfortunately lost in the bloody war, also many Bosnians who gave their lives defending our country!

Also I would like to remember Vedran Puljic, Mirza Rascic, Sasa Grgic and Sale Vilenjak. Ultras who are no longer with us. Rest in peace!

VOLIM TE BOSNO!

Mirza

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