Football’s Awesome Tifos
Tifos are large-scale banners, or coordinated ‘mosaic’ displays from hardcore (‘ultra’) fans at football matches. They can be months in the making ahead of important games, but are then only on display for a matter of minutes before kickoff. These essentially ephemeral creations are an incredible show of devotion from the fans, and the origin of the word is Italian, from the manic fever brought on by Typhus i.e. The ‘Tifosi’ are the most passionate supporters, those with the most manic levels of support for their club.
These days the tifos live on beyond match day, through their documentation and sharing online and through social media, and in this 2017 (French) book. They’ve even found themselves at the centre of controversy, as was the case with this threatening ‘Red or Dead’ creation from Standard Liège fans directed towards their former player Steven Defour after his move to Belgian rivals Anderlecht. The latest editions of the FIFA console game also features tifos within the customisation features, with different designs unlocked after reaching certain levels.
I first came across Tifos via this film [below] documenting the work of Pepe Perreta in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and have since been looking out for them online. Below I’ve shared ten of my favourites, and a couple of other films that show a little of the production process, including using a grid to scale up an artwork ahead of painting onto canvass.
Here is a short film about a special Tifo that was developed for a Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and FC Malaga.
And this film gives a general overview of the medium, its history, and current (global) reach.