After Tahir: The Ultras

The part of the After Tahir panel discussion that stuck out most to me was the discussion of the football fans in Egypt, also known as Ultras. The Ultras are characterized by their synchronization and demonstration during games. They have coordinated cheers, dances, and celebrations. The Ultras are getting attention from both activists and the government as of late. Many activists believe that their methods of assembly and demonstration could be adopted by people demonstrating against their government. Unfortunately the government may think the same thing because they often harass Ultras, taking away banners and arresting leaders of the groups before big games

The Ultras are often the case of mischaracterization. Both the public and government view them in two conflicting ways. The first is that these people are heroes of some kind. Oftentimes they are on the front lines of protests against the government and their experience with large scale, organized, demonstrations is valuable. They are often passionate about the future of their country and as young men they often side with the more progressive activists. They are also seen as potentially dangerous hooligans, as most sports fans are at some point or another. It’s no secret that fights often break out after sporting events, especially soccer, and sometimes those fights lead people to view the fans involved in a strong negative light.

In my opinion, the Ultras lie somewhere in the middle. They are primarily young Egyptian men who love both their club and country. In terms of soccer they may occasionally get violent but they are not really a public concern. However their raucous nature and experience demonstrating can be vital to the continuing progress in Egypt. Are they heroes? Probably not, certainly not in more of a sense than any other protester. However what they are, publicly involved Egyptian citizens, is enough to create some social change.

After Tahir: The Ultras