What opinion have people about politics on the terraces of Scandinavia?
In general, politics on the terraces of Sweden is strictly forbidden. We go by the rule that anyone who loves the club is welcome, no matter what. That’s why you will see nazis together with immigrants standing side by side against rival teams, or also the police. There is only one group in Sweden that is openly political, Ultra Rossobianco ‘2003, a small group supporting Degerfors. They are extremely left wing and communist. There are some groups that are a bit antracist like Gais Tifo (Gais), Yellow Fanatics (Elfsborg), Ultras Nikolai(Örebro) and Peking Ultras (Norrköping). But that’s a political stance that never appears on the terraces.
Which are for you the most powerful firms in Scandinavia?
At the moment and for the past 5 years Wisemen have been dominating the free fight scene in northern & central Europe. They have beaten all the good German groups like Dynamo Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen, KBHSV etc. They have also won against all Swedish firms. Even in regular pub attacks and rioting in the city they stood up good against Wisla Sharks/Slask/Lechia Gdansk, even the Polish said that they were a bit surprised. I think Firman Boys, Copenhagen Casuals and Fri Sport Bröndby take second place, maybe FB a bit stronger because of more members. Djurgårdens Fina Grabbar (Djurgården) and Kompisgänget Bajen (Hammarby) are also worth mentioning of course. In Norway I think Isko Boys from Vålarenga are the strongest but not even near the Swedes and Danes.
For the people who are not very involved in the scene of the Nordic countries, what is the opinion of the use of weapons in fights ?
Weapons are as forbidden as politics. We have a different mentality here compared to southern parts of Europe. For us, the most important thing is honour and respect to keep the scene alive and away from repression. We see the use of weapons as the biggest and easiest reason for start of a repression. We fight with our hands and we don’t kick people that go down. If one group breaks this agreement the whole scene will turn against them and there’s some examples of firms that have become forbidden in our scene by the big firms because of not following agreements. Like a couple of years ago IFK Norrköpings hit a Firman Boys member with their car. As a punishment they were threatened to dissolve their group.
As I know in Sweden there is a kind of agreement between groups, meetings between capos, in which they agree to respect the premises of groups, calling them zones of peace. What is true about this?
It is true that peace zones exists. These are often the territory of the groups. Because, as a football supporter you already start with a bad reputation. It is hard to find a meeting territorial for the groups and we do not want to make it harder or even impossible to get one in the future. So to attack another groups territory is like shooting yourself in the foot. You can attack enemies in pubs or anywhere else, but never their territory. This agreement has almost never been broken and all the new generations learn this rule as the first thing they do. But meeting with capos just because of this rule is a bit exaggerated, it’s more like an unwritten law that you just follow.
What is the difference in Sweden between ultras and hooligans?
The hooligans are more english/German inspired while the ultras find their inspiration in southern Europe and some times Latin America. The hooligans mostly focus on free fights in the woods while the ultras are fighting at the weekends in the city. More chaotic style attacks with the amount of guys you have at the weekend. In some clubs their are people that are members of a ultra group and the hooligan group of the team, most common in Hammarby. I think also in IFK Göteborg. Besides the fighting part of course the ultras deliver the atmosphere and the tifos in the stadium. We have a very active ultra scene here that we are proud over. For a country with 9 million in population the scene is fantastic.
What is your opinion of Spanish groups? I guess after the last meetings that have gone on social media, this has surprised a little people from other countries like yours.
I think people in general have the wrong picture of the Spanish scene. People think that teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona are only plastic fans with no ultras. It’s because they have never heard of Boixos Nois or Ultra Sur that has a long tradition of activity both on the terraces and the streets, but the repression hit you very hard. But I think groups like Biris Norte and Frente Atletico are most known here but not many more than that, which is a bit sad because I know many good groups in Spain. But for everyday that passes people learn something new about the Spanish scene and many people are applauding the groups that are taking it to the woods now instead of using weapons and cowardly attacks.
How does the hierarchy function in a group like yours?
There are a couple of “top boys” that takes the decisions. To be part a Top Boys you have to be very active and travel to every away game, also be present at home games because you have to be their when the group takes a decision. There’s often a good mix of leaders from the younger generations and the older guys so the decisions reflect on both older and younger members. If you want to become a member you’ll have to be very active and prove yourself in two years maybe, if you are really good than one year is often enough.
How did the scene in Sweden come about? What was its biggest influence?
It came here in the eighties when Premier League came to public service TV in Sweden. People saw Millwall, West Ham and Leeds etc and were very inspired. After a couple of trips there than the first organised groups were founded in AIK, Hammarby and Djurgården. The ultra scene came in the nineties. Many think that Hammarby Ultras’93 were the first organised ultra group here, but a couple of years earlier (1986) Pennybridge Ultras were founded. I think they supported Örebros hockey team. But not everyone thinks that counts. The biggest influence were the Italian scene of course.
What are the penalties and sanctions for violence in football in Sweden?
You can get a stadium ban and also taken to court often. It can be prison time if you are unlucky but for special cases and if you fight against police. We also get fines but they are not as near as big as in your country.
Which are the most visible clothing brands on the Swedish terraces?
You’ll see all the casual brands here. Ellesse, Fila, Tacchini, Stone Island, Ma.strum, CP company, Weekend Offender, Penguin, Lyle&Scott, Fred Perry, Lacoste etc. Often supporters only buy casual clothes in their team colours so it looks good on the terrace.
What do you expect to happen off the pitch at this summer’s World Cup in Russia? Do you think the Russians will carry out their threats?
I think the government has everything under control. The riots in Marseille were sanctioned by Russian authorities as a compromise to have a calm World Cup at home. At least that’s what I think. Also Russian hooligans that I have spoken with are saying the same. But maybe some small fights/riots will happen. I know many Swedish hooligans will travel, which is not usual here to support the national team, but the fighting is tempting and we are in the same group as Germany. Last couple of years Swedish firms have beaten the German firms in the meetings so the Germans will be hungry.
Let’s talk a bit about football, we know the Swedish league is not as competitive as other European leagues. What do you think this is due to?
It’s all about the money of course. But every year were are getting closer and closer. Swedish teams now qualify for Europe, and östersund for example went through to the play off’s beating Park, Galatasaray, Hertha Berlin and Arsenal at emirates and östersund aren’t even top 5 in Sweden.