Being a sports fan is a relatively simple job – turn up to the game and support your team. The majority of fans stick to this and also participate in other activities such as placing football bets. However, like most sporting events, there are some fans who sometimes misbehave and cause issues in the most unusual ways.
In 2000, Luis Figo made one of the most controversial transfers of all time, transferring from Barcelona to their bitter rivals Real Madrid. His €62 million transfer signalled the start of Florentino Perez’s “Galactico era” at Real Madrid. The world-record transfer was one of the most shocking transfers to be made due to his star status at the Catalonian club and his role as team leader. Unsurprisingly, on his return visit to Camp Nou things could turn hostile.
Luis Figo taking a corner for Real Madrid whilst being ‘attacked’ by Barcelona fans (source: theversed.com)
In his first game at the Camp Nou in the Real Madrid shirt, Figo was constantly taunted throughout the game with banners such as ’Traitor’ being hung around the stadium. The Portuguese winger was even targeted with oranges and bottles whenever he was on the ball. This meant that he avoided taking any corner to avoid being in close proximity to the fans. However, it was his second game back at the Camp Nou that produced one of the most defining image of the Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry. Despite the abuse from the Barcelona fans being similar to the previous occasion, Figo decided he would take all corners. Like last time, Figo continued to have things thrown at him by fans and the referee had to eventually postpone the game for 20 minutes. It was during this break where the cameras noticed a one of the ‘weirdest’ things thrown onto a football pitch – a pig’s head.
Showing the goal
Before the reunification of German, FC Magdeburg were one of East Germany’s top teams, winning three league titles and seven cup competitions. FC Magdeburg are also the only East German club to have won a European title. However, since the re-unification of Germany, the club management made grave mistakes and quickly fell down the German football pyramid and dropped out of the ‘professional’ leagues into the fourth tier.
In 2012, the fourth division side made headlines thanks to their fans. The club were having an appalling 2011/12 season and had just gone five consecutive games without scoring a goal. The fans decided to take drastic action and arrived at the next game with brightly coloured arrows which they pointed towards to goal during the game. The team did end up scoring with 10 minutes to go, but they lost 2-1 to Berliner AK 07. You can watch the fans assisting their team here.
FC Magdeburg ended up finishing bottom of the league, scoring only 23 goals which was the lowest of any team in the fourth tier. The lack of goals meant they finished bottom of the league. Fortunately for the East German club, relegation was ‘suspended’ for the season meaning that the club didn’t fall even further down the pyramid.
Burning down the stadium
No football fan likes to see their team lose, especially to a local rival, and it can be frustrating if they aren’t playing well. Most football fans would vent their frustration by shouting at the team or sending a passive-aggressive tweet. However, the fans of Partizan Belgrade took it to another level when they were facing city rivals Red Star Belgrade. The two clubs have been huge rivals since the mid-1940s after they were formed from two political factions. It’s no surprise that the ‘ugliest rivalry in football’ also has some ugly scenes at times.
Early in the second half of the 2013 Belgrade derby, a few Partizan fans ignited several fires on the terraces around the stadium and tried to find any object to make the flames even bigger. Although Red Star managed to hold onto their one goal advantage, the main focus of the game was the fire in the stadium which required the game to be stopped for 10 minutes. However, it should be no surprise that something like this happened, back in 2009, Red Star fans lit the plastic seats at Partizan’s stadium when the home team recorded a 2-0 victory.
If it wasn’t dangerous enough burning down part of a stadium, some fans have even been bringing fireworks into stadiums and aiming them at the goalkeepers. There have been examples of this sort of behaviour occurring in Russia in the past decade, with Dynamo Moscow goalkeeper Antonin Shunin being knocked unconscious when a firework exploded at his feet in 2009. In 2015 another goalkeeper was ’fireworked’, this time in a league match in Montenegro. It’s not just fireworks which are used, in Romania another goalkeeper with hit by a firecracker in the same match where a fan ran onto the pitch and punched a player in the head.
This type of behaviour from certain fans isn’t new. Back in 2005, this sort of behaviour occurred in the game between AC Milan and Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League. AC Milan were leading 3-0 on aggregate before goalkeeper Dida was struck on the back of the head with a flare. Fortunately the goalkeeper was unharmed, but the game had to be abandoned with around 20 minutes remaining. In the end, the last 20 minutes of the game weren’t replayed and AC Milan were awarded a 3-0 win.