AC Milan fans unveil huge devil tifo: What is a tifo and who makes the giant banners?
When the Champions League clash with Inter Milan was confirmed, the club’s fan groups began working on the incredible San Siro display.
AC Milan host city rivals Inter Milan in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night, the first time that the Italian giants have met in the competition in more than 15 years.
The two teams are the most successful Italian clubs in European competition and Milan holds the distinction of being the only city which is home to two Champions League-winning clubs. The rivalry between the two sides is intense and supporters are eager to get one over on the other whenever possible. This often manifests itself in a matchday tifo.
On Wednesday it was AC Milan’s turn to host and their supporters went for a massive tifo of the devil, an image that is often used by fans to suggest domination over the club’s rivals. Aside from the huge, hellish face the Milan fans around the stadium were holding up flags in the club’s colours of red, black and yellow.
At the far side, the Inter Milan supporters in attendance spelt out ‘Curva Nord’, the part of the San Siro that the most vociferous supporters can be found.
What is a tifo?
The word ‘tifo’ is used to described the vast, imaginative displays made by supporters to celebrate their team and intimidate their opponents. The word is Italian and refers, strangely enough, to typhus fever, which can cause a bout of delirium in sufferers. The fans involved in the tifo are known as ‘tifosi’, which essentially means ‘those infected with typhus’.
Tifos often play on the rivalry between the two clubs and their supporters, using common mascots or symbols to make their point. To the uninitiated they can seen bizarre and cartoonish, but to those in the know they are a carefully choreographed message.
Who makes tifo displays?
The huge visual displays that greet the players are almost always the work of fan groups. Supporters can sometimes feel detached from the multi-billion-dollar industry of football but fan culture is still a key part of the way that millions of people consume the sport.
In Italy, it is typically the ultra groups who take the lead on matters relating the the stadium atmosphere and are often heavily involved in the planning, production and unveiling of tifo displays.
The idea is to create the impressions of a unified wall of support. Sometimes this is achieved with the careful unfurling of a vast sheet of plastic or cloth that has been painted with the display.
In other cases it can be a coordinated effort in which flags or coloured sheets of cards are placed under the seats of fans. At a specific moment all fans hold up their piece to create a vast collage.