Hooligan who replaced Partizan's south with human rights: Leaders are powerful businessmen
The former member of a supporter group tells how he went from fighting and proving himself to the leader, to becoming a fighter for human rights
A former active member of a supporter group, originally from southern Serbia, is today, he says, a pacifist and activist. Without revealing his identity, he told the "15 Minutes" program what his path looked like from a hooligan prepared to do anything to an active human rights activist.
At the beginning of the interview, the young man emphasized that he would like to be able to tell his story publicly the most, but that by revealing his identity he would point the finger at many other people who are still active.
"I'm sure it would change their lives in a negative context," he started telling his story.
The young man said that he himself is not sure how he got into the whole story with the supporter groups, nor how he got out.
"When I look back, I don't recognize myself. It's different when you come to a big city from a small environment. When we go to a big city, we are alone. You still miss real friends when you come to a big city from a small one. In that sense, I want to point out how easy it is to get into a supporter group," he said.
He added he entered the whole story at the age of 18 when he went to Belgrade to study.
There is no limit
"When we are at home, we listen to myths about supporters. When I went to the stadium, I had the chance to be a part of that stand. We all start supporting a club as kids. At one point, as part of a fan group, I felt like I was a member of that club. It was Partizan. By slowly getting into that story, we are not even aware of how much we are losing ourselves. Now, from this angle, it's really incredible to me how blindly the leader is obeyed," says the young man.
"There is no limit in a supporter group. There is even a reverse process. We want to stand out in every way possible, so that the leader notices us, either by breaking the head of someone from the opposite camp, or by transporting various substances, legal and illegal to the stadium, on a train, across the border... There were no questions because we were collecting points. That's how I experienced it. The more points, the more freedom and the better chance you can climb that famous fence...," noted this former member of one of the supporter groups.
After 4 years he realized that was not his way. He made friends there, today he is aware of the immoral aspects of what he was doing.
"I fought with those who were different, we also had various attempts prevent the Gay Parade, it was all for the sake of proving ourselves. There were broken teeth and stab wounds, all sorts of nonsense. It all happens in a matter of seconds, adrenaline or the belonging to the group guides you, then there's no going back, in those moments they would trample on a man," he says, noting that the concept of supporter groups is "pure business."
"Leaders on any side are some of the most powerful businessmen in this country. It's about huge amounts of money that can be easily seen by how they dress and what they drive. Others work for them, they never go to supporter actions such as setting someone's coffee shop on fire, they know that some kids will blindly follow them for a reward in the form of money or respect. Respect is what is most appreciated in the stands. To climb that bar on the fence and to lead the cheering, that gives wings."
A confession that changed everything
The young man recounts that after talking with his best friend, the world in which he lived before then collapsed. In that conversation, he learned that his friend belonged to a group that he, as a supporter, was attacking.
"He was the type of person I hated at that moment. He is a member of a minority that we, as fans, had been attacking. He reset my life. At that moment, I began to realize that what I was doing absolutely made no sense," said the young man.
Then came the confrontation with reality, and the change did not come suddenly and at once.
"For months I was getting farther and farther from my friends from the stands, now I can no longer follow the sport because of the fans who do some stupid things. I realized that we are all humans, that there's no reason to smash anyone's head because they support another club or because they are of a different sexual orientation," he states.
The former member of a supporter group today says he is a globalist, pacifist and activist.
"I am the one who always tries to smooth over any conflict and, above all, not get into an altercation. I fight for ecology, for some healthy life directions. I like to travel, to meet people of different nations, different minorities. To hear how they think," he says.
The young man states that now logic is the primary urge that drives him. When asked if he hates anyone now, he replies:
"I tried, I wanted to play, to experiment, but I was no longer able to hate anyone. And I would never accept a leader again, there is no one I could listen to so blindly again," this young man concludes.