For all the tribalism in football it is remarkable how following this game can dispel your myths and prejudices about a place.
Zurich, Switzerland is a city associated with order, wealth, and tranquility; WW2’s neutral zone, full of cows, good skiing and fine watches. Although, interestingly supporters in the Swiss capital carry on in the traditions of the rest of Europe, breeding a particularly distinct sub-culture.
The “Zürichs Kranke Horde” (sick bunch of Zurich) is a hooligan group consisting of Grasshoppers Club Zurich and FC Zurich supporters. At the game hard-core fans from both sides held a silent march dedicated to Borris R., a member who had been murdered in an unrelated shooting the previous week. They expressed dissatisfaction at the media’s attention on their friend’s ties to the group, rather than focusing on his killer.
Unlike the hooligan contingent, the rivalry between Ultras is plastered throughout a city in which you would be hard pressed to find even a loose leaf of paper. The Grasshoppers supporters refuse to make choreographies in the new and shared Letzigrund stadium because it is not their home ground.
Their home, the Hardtrum stadium was demolished in 2007, and construction on the new building has been delayed by a complaint made by a single citizen. This has given the Grasshopper fans a sort of second-class status to their long time rivals, although they are the country’s most successful club.
In the previous “Zurcher derby”, around 800 fans, which included families, were kettled in by police and had to wait 5 hours under the rain and snow until many of them simply gave up and went home. In a show of solidarity for fans rights, the Grasshoppers supporters decided to march towards the police with their hands raised in the air.
Maintaining the rights of supporters and standing up against the systematic repression on the part of institutions is prioritized over rivalries. In the capital of FIFA this is more apparent than ever. As those who the game is beholden to continue to be dissuaded from pursuing their passion, an equally strong reaction has emerged to keep the game genuine, and celebrate the supporters experience.