As is often the case with the oldest of Italian football clubs, AC Milan has a loyal and devout support which includes – and has historically included – a vast number of different organised ultras groups. Today those ultras are largely united under the name Curva sud Milano (in reference to their position in the southern stand of the San Siro) but through history the story of the AC Milan ultras has been a turbulent and changeable one.History and Development of the AC Milan Ultras
As the oldest established football club in Italy it is only fitting that AC Milan should also boast the first truly modern ultras organisation in the form of the Fossa dei Leoni or “Lion’s Den”, which was a name chosen in line with an early nickname of the San Siro.
The group were founded all the way back in 1968 and whilst they originally resided at Ramp 18 of the stadium, soon moved to the Curva Sud which has been the traditional home of AC Milan ultras ever since.
In the ensuing decades a number of further ultras groups were formed, most notably the Brigate Rossonere and the Commandos Tigre, but it was the FdL which remained the central presence amongst the Rossoneri support both metaphorically and literally in terms of position within the Curva Sud.
The FdL’s influence and fame was such in fact, that as well as having their own song (Leoni Armati or “Armed Lion’s”) the group was also the focus of an Italian movie in 1982. That prominence and influence sustained for over three decades before it stunningly and shockingly unravelled in 2005 due to a somewhat bewildering dispute over banners.The FdL Dissolves and Civil War Ensues
The story of the dissolution of Italy’s oldest ultras group is one very much associated with the unwritten rules and codes of such groups and how the FdL came to be seen as having broken them over a dispute regarding two banners.
During a game between AC and rivals Juventus, the FdL managed to steal a banner from a group of Juve ultras known as the Vikings and proceeded to display the banner as a trophy within the Curva Sud. After the game however, word began to spread that rather than having been stolen as a result of physical confrontation the banner was in fact taken senza onore or “without honour” which caused consternation amongst Milan’s other ultras.
The situation worsened yet further when the Vikings stole an FdL banner in retaliation, but less than a week later both banners reappeared in the hands of their original owners. It was rumoured that the return of the banners had been negotiated in conjunction with the police and this was an accusation from which the FdL could not recover and ultimately led to the group’s dissolution.
That dissolution led to the formation of a large number of new ultras groups, which together with the still dominant Brigate Rossonere and Commandos Tigre quickly descended into widespread conflict and civil war. At the time that the in-fighting and violence was most rife, an AC Milan was shot in the legs as part of what a Monza magistrate described as an internal war over merchandising and tickets but eventually peace did break out and today’s more unified AC Milan ultras came to be.