Sep 14 2010

An image of Slovak football

Published by at 10:16 pm under Domestic and tagged: ,

This week MSK Zilina fly the flag for Slovakia in the elite world of the Champions League.  The match against Chelsea is bringing unheard of attention from the media.  In a brief interlude to the Zilina coverage, I came across this photo & thought this was a timely moment to post on the reality of the majority of domestic football in Slovakia:

Worth 1000 Words

  • Seats ripped up and thrown out of stands:  The fans of Spartak Trnava have a bit of a reputation for smashing up stadiums they visit.  To be fair, they are not the only ones guilty of this type of behaviour.  This picture shows the respect Trnava fans have for Pasienky, the temporary home of their arch-rivals Slovan Bratislava as well as their own National team.
  • Athletics track: Pet hate of football fans across the globe, Slovakia is full of stadiums with terrible vantage points.  No wonder the fans take to smashing up the seats.
  • Temporary fences: Due to the concern surrounding security at the Slovan Bratislava v Crvena Zvezda game, these temporary fences have been erected at the capital club’s stadium.  In spite of the fact that fans from Slovan themselves, Crvena Zvezda & Stuttgart have demonstrated how easy it is to dangerously tear these fences down, they were once again used to help accommodate the visitors from Trnava.  Result of the fences?  Added danger to fans.
  • Security: There are no ‘stewards’ anywhere to be seen.  The reason for this is that they would simply not survive the bombardment of plastic seats, fireworks, bottles, coins or anything else the visiting supporters choose to hurl over the fences.  The guy in the red t-shirt on the grass is probably a ‘Trnava steward’, as you can see, doing a good job.  In case you’re wondering there are also no police because they are only required in the stadium in case of a severe riot, the club remains responsible for stewarding of the football match.
  • Loyalty: Although attendances are low, and domestic football is relatively unpopular in Slovakia, those fans which do have an allegiance to a club are fiercely loyal.  Trnava fans have a reputation for being some of the most passionate and loyal in the whole country.  Here in Bratislava at least 1,000 were present, adding a significant percentage to the attendance that day.
  • Empty seats: Not only used for segregation purposes, no photo of Slovak football would be complete without a large bank of empty seats in the background.
  • Player fan relationship: In spite of often unruly behaviour on the terraces, players will always come up and bond with the fans.  In case of a positive result / performance, often the whole team march past the fans slapping hands in the process.
  • Football culture:  The image of a player marching, hands aloft, towards a bunch of fans who have trashed their section of stadium just sums up Slovak football for me perfectly.  I’m not saying this is always the case (certain players often bear the brunt of more than their fair share of abuse), but often there is a certain bond between players and fans which is on a much more human level than that of the over-paid superstars of the bigger European leagues.  If a player gives 100% for the team, the fans always reciprocate by showing their respect. You really feel that if these type of players weren’t on the field, they would be there on the terraces too.  Not for one moment am I judging this particular player (I don’t even know who he is!), and this may be a controversial comment, but sometimes I get a real sense that a given player would also be proud of his fans for throwing those seats on the pitch!

This image was taken by the Ultras of Spartak Trnava, following their 1-1 draw against Slovan Bratislava.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “An image of Slovak football”

  1.   Moodonthepitchon 15 Sep 2010 at 11:03 am

    Where do Zilina fans fit in the scope of Slovakian football when it comes to violence/damaging stadiums, etc?

    Obviously security will be heightened for tonight’s game. Surely it’s mandated by UEFA. Any chance fans will act out tonight as a protest to the ticket price increase?


  2.   britskibelasion 15 Sep 2010 at 11:15 am

    Zilina fans aren’t too bad to be honest. Certainly not the worse. Depends, like any fans they will react if provoked. They have been involved in some minor trouble against rival teams in the Slovak league and the owner also criticised their behaviour in Prague, but nothing major from what I’ve heard / seen.

    I would be very surprised if there is any trouble in the ground tonight, the worst that happened last season against Partizan was some fans running on the pitch at the end of the game to try and steal some of the visitors’ flags. And that was with the full contingent of Ultras / Hooligans present having paid reasonable prices for tickets. Tonight they have boycotted the game and plan an open air viewing outside the stadium. One big question mark is if they will manage to make a statement in front of the world’s media, but I doubt it.

    Security in the town will be very tight, largely because they don’t know how many Chelsea fans to expect. Only 500 tickets were given to Chelsea, but tickets will probably be exchanged on the black market. I also expect a lot of Chelsea fans will be content to enjoy the trip without a match ticket. The big question is how will they mix with the Zilina fans? Maybe they will make a bond over the ludicrous treatment of the home fans by the club. Having said that, obviously it will still be a precarious situation with so many people staying outside in the relatively small city centre. Hopefully we’ll see common sense and good behaviour from both sets of fans as well as the police.

    We’ll see what happens ..

  3.   James Baxteron 15 Sep 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I’d second pretty much all that. I did meet some Chelsea fans in Zilina yesterday who didn’t think there’d be many coming without tickets but who really knows? They were very sympathetic re the ticket-price business as well.

    There were suggestions that the trouble at Zilina-Partizan last year was stirred up at least partly by Trnava fans. Similarly, there were rumours that Austria Vienna hooligans were amongst the Slovan fans who had a go at the visitors from Stuttgart this season. Only rumours, I stress, but I suppose that when there is a hooligan ‘scene’, sadly, there’ll be idiots from all over trying to get in on it.

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