Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Art of the Tifo

An excellent example of a North American Tifo from Seattle.

Among being an avid Football fan and club supporter, I am a massive art fan. However since you will not see me hitting up the next big thing's art exhibit in downtown Toronto anytime soon, I needed a way to meld two of my passions into one. Then I watched a Milan derby game and everything changed.

The game ended up being a fairly comfortable win for AC Milan but what really caught my attention was something that took place even before a single ball was kicked. Up in the Curva Sud, the south end of the San Siro stadium reserved for home supporters (in this case AC Milan) was a large almost canvas like object. The television camera missed it on the first go around; clearly focused on the upcoming match, but when it panned back to the section I could see it as clear as day. What the supporters of Milan had created was a replica of the famous Last Supper painting by Da Vinci, with a twist. Instead of depicting Judas in his place at the table, they replaced him with the likeness of Inter Milan manager Leonardo.

Leonardo probably wasn't expecting this!

As a former AC Milan player now managing "the great enemy within" the parallel was obvious and a bit humorous. However it got me thinking about displays of club support around the world, what kind of time and effort had to go into creating such works of art. I also had to wonder, was this type of art making its way to North American football? What examples were out there? So I began my Internet search and soon found some amazing works of art and passion.

Before I share my favorites I should explain a bit of where this phenomenon came from. From everything I could gather the practice began in Italy, the works were, and still are called Tifo's. The Wiki/dictionary explanation reads:
"Tifo's are mostly used as a name for any spectacular choreography displayed by supporters on the terraces of an arena or stadium in connection with a sport event, Tifos are primarily arranged by Ultras or a supporters group to show their love to the club, but are sometimes sponsored or arranged by the club itself."

From what I've witnessed they are dominant displays of affection and pride towards the home club, or an expression of intimidation or dislike of the opposing club.  Tifo's can be as small as one guy with a simple banner, to massive displays which cost thousands of dollars and take weeks, and in some cases months to prepare. Some have come in the form of large banners with the club logo or crest, others are dependent on supporter participation. In many of these case the supporters are not even affiliated with the supporters group, they just show up that day with a ticket and receive cardboard or paper cut out with instructions.

These types of displays are starting to become more prevalent in the North American game. Seattle and Los Angeles are some of the top clubs in the MLS when it comes to Tifo's. D.C United recently did a touching one for the return of U.S international Charlie Davies from serious injury after a devastating car crash. Toronto FC now have a "Play as we dream" Tifo in the south end of BMO Field. As the game grows and the fan base for these supporters groups grow, you will see the size of tifo's grow in both size and complexity.

And now I present my favorite tifo's:


AC Milan- Best Tifo's going!

Inter are a close second

Tifo for the opening of the 2010 World Cup

At Barcelona they get they whole crowd into it!

French style in Marseille!

The most famous Everton defender Jonny Heitinga will ever be.
Saved the best for last, AC Milan at it again....with flares!

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