Interview with Section Grenat (Servette FC - Switzerland)

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1. Hi mate please first introduce your-self:

I am 39 years old, two kids. I go to the stadium with the entire family. I am rather proud to have my family with me. It’s not really “ultra style”, but with that I don’t need to give explanations why I cannot be at a birthday on a Saturday night.
I follow Servette as an active supporter since 1983. I have always been active since this year, but I have never been in the lead of the group. So what will follow reflects my opinion and not necessarily the one of the group.


2. Tell us about the history of your group:

Section Grenat has been founded in 1988 by friends of mine who were thrown away from the “official fan’s club” due to their behaviour. In the beginning it wasn’t an ultra group at all. It was as strange mix between German and English style.
Later when the new generation took the lead of the group in 1993 they came with the influence of Italy. We can consider that Section Grenat became ultra this year.
At this time we had a rather good image in the public and in the press which were impressed by our loyalty to the team even in the bad times.
When our traditional enemy Sion started with the ultra style as well our confrontations became more violent. It was the end of our good impression…
Despite of this we kept a rather big independence for doing what we wanted until 2003. In March of that year we moved from our old stadium Les Charmilles to La Praille which is officially called “Stade de Genève”. We don’t really like the real name so most of the people called the new stadium by the name of the district where it stands. Our problems with the club and the security started at this time.
This move caused us major changes. From a small stadium with an average of 5’000 people for a capacity of 9’000 seats we went into a modern stadium of 30’000 places with an average of… 8’000 people ! It wasn’t really easy for a small group like us to find the best place to be. Finally we decided to stay in the centre of the terrace in order to be as close as possible of the rest of the people.

3. Genève is in the French part of Switzerland, how much is the influence of that and where is the difference between other groups, what makes SG uniquely ?

As latin we are influenced by France and Italy as people from Lausanne, Sion or Neuchâtel. Actually excepted the clubs from Tessin (the Italian part) we can be considered as the oldest ultra group in Switzerland in football. Blue White Fanatic Kop (Lausanne) has never considered itself as ultra. And in Sion the Commando Ultra Sion was founded in 1992, but didn’t have much to do with ultras at this time. They became Ultras Sion when Commando Ultra from Marseille stole their “Commando” banner. In Neuchâtel nothing happened until 2003 when Fanati’x has been founded.
In the German part the ultra style came lately at the end of the 90’. We can see clearly that they follow the “German model” when the French part follow the French and/or Italian model. For example Neuchâtel, Lausanne, Sion or Servette have no hools firm.

In the German part almost each club has its own firm which can be sometimes very small.
The problem we have in Geneva is that the public is really asleep, without passion. Due to that we feel alone to support our team. But due to that we are a really compact group with a mentality I really appreciate.
Geneva is an international city with a lot of foreigners, but as well al lot of other Swiss who live there without really appreciating the place they live. So when they turn back in their birthplace they take with them their disgust of Geneva. Due to this they don’t like Servette neither. So it’s always for them a great challenge to beat Servette.

And this is reflected of cours as well for us people who follow our team away. We clearly feel that we are often not welcome in the other stadiums of the French part. This motivate us obviously to show them who were are.

4. Report something about the general scene before and after the happenings with your club:

In 2005 our club went bankrupt. Before that we were the second most prestigious club from Switzerland behind Grasshoppers. But we were the only one to be in the first division since the beginning of football in Switzerland.
After a pause of 6 monthes during which we decided to follow our second team Section Grenat turned back to life to follow the “new” Servette in third division. We didn’t know how things would happen for us. Of course the core should be there. But the rest ? At the first game we saw that our motivation was intact. Even in such stadiums. Even with so many people around us. Because we quickly understood that we were alone to support our colors.
Fortunately we stayed only one year at this level. No fans, no public, no passion at all. Only between 40 and 80 guys who tried to support their team the best they could.

But in front of us it was a desert. Most of the time the major part of the public was supporting Servette in the away games. At home only the quarter of the stadium was opened. Imagine 1’600 people with all around 28’400 empty seats… On the top of that the security decided to apply the UEFA security rules for us. Actually the security rules regarding the third division were decided just before we started the new season. We hoped that they wouldn’t be applied, but we quickly understood that even with no one in their bloody stadiums we had to face their repression.

5. How is the relation to other groups of the French part like Sion and also to the other cantons (canton is a kind of council or state) ?

Sion is our traditional rival. It can be resumed by a rivalry between city and land. But it is more than only that. Servette used to “steal” their best players during years and years. On the top of that people from Valais (Sion is the capital town of Valais) use to go to work to Geneva, but pay their taxes where they are born which is a subject of irritation for us. And we use to go in holiday in their mountains which is considered as an unfriendly invasion by them. Their friends from Chiasso can be considered as enemy as well.
We have as well an old rivalry with Neuchâtel which wasn’t much active between the beginning of 90’ and 2003, year when the Fanati’x were founded. They can be considered as our enemy number one today.
With Lausanne we can consider that we have a love/hate relationship. People from Lausanne don’t like Geneva. We can even consider that globally people from BWFK don’t like use. But we have individually good contacts between members. It’s a little bit schizophrenic..

6. Have you some friends in the Switzerland or in other parts of Europe?

We have a very old friendship with Lugano which started even before the birth of Section Grenat. During the years we were not always very close, but now I am very proud of our younger which reactivated this old relationship.
We have as well a good friendship with Joyriders from Sochaux..

7. Have the Section Grenats political tendences ?

Not at all. Like most of the Swiss groups.

8. Could you say something about the organisation of the SG (awaygames, Sections …) ?

We are organized as many other associations. We have a directing committee elected yearly. We have no away section, but we have some internal branches. For example we created “Jeune Garde” which has the mission to integrate to the group the youngest members.
We organize our own travels by bus. We generally accept non members with us. Nothing particular.

9. Ultras have often sometimes daily to do with repression by the government, FA etc. , how much you have to do with repressions and how do you fight against repressions ?

Actually we really face repression since we went into our new stadium. As everywhere it’s going worse and worse. Even if we can considered as a non aggressive group we have cannot use pyro as we want.
As Swiss groups haven’t really much contacts between the whole country mainly due to the language we don’t have a common fight. Since January 2007 we have a new law against hooliganism. Our system allows us to contest a law we don’t like. Unfortunately ultras groups are not used to political activities. As we are not an interesting social group almost no one was interested to help us. To launch such a project wasn’t easy, because no one wanted to have his name or his face in the medias. Finally the project died by it-self when Zurich became champion in Basel. Guys from Basel invaded the pitch just after the end of the game and fought inside and outside the stadium. It can probably be considered as the major incident in Switzerland for football. After this no one wanted to be linked to that project and we had to stop it.
Otherwise there is no real activity in Geneva against repression.

10. How is your opinion about violence in football and especially of your group and which are the greatest incidents where your group have been involved

As violence is not our main interest we mostly defend our-selves against Swiss German hools who seem to appreciate to attack us.
Of course there is some trouble with Neuchâtel or Sion, but nothing really interesting. Actually the last time we attacked someone was in Chiasso who are friends with Sion. We just had the bad idea to do it inside the stadium. We know that we will pay for it probably in the next weeks. We just don’t know what will be the price.
The greatest incidents ? They were maybe at the very beginning when there was no security in or around stadiums. We often fought in Sion. No separation, no security, people drunk all around us. Our games there used to be rather violent before, during and after the game. But at this time who cares ? Generally these incidents involved the 50 guys we were versus the crowd.
Chiasso can be considered as an important fight as two of them were sent to the hospital. It was a regular fight without weapons.

11. How much is your influence in the club and how is the general relation to them ?

We have no relationship as our old president doesn’t appreciate much the fines due to pyro…

12. What is your opinion about the development of Mentalita Ultras in Europe and of course the scene in Switzerland ?

Well.. I am not the best person to have the most interesting things to say on the subject as I don’t travel around Europe since a long time.
I think that the latest events in Paris and Catania will have a very bad impact on the scene everywhere. How deep will it be ? I am a little bit afraid that away games will be forbidden in the future with tickets sold to local teams only. High prices will probably come as well. Here in Switzerland local authorities would like that Neuchâtel pay for the security of their home games. If it will be the case they will have to take measures that we won’t be probably much appreciated by us… And if they start doing this other towns may do it as well. As the Swiss Scene isn’t very numerous it will be very hard for most of us to go against this.
I think that now time has come for us to think what we want to do. Do we want to keep “tifo e violenza” or shouldn’t we forget “violenza” ? If we want to go on supporting our teams it may be the price to pay.

13. For the most Ultragroups the relation and the origin of the City is very important, also for you and explain why ?

As probably a lot of other people we are proud of our city which is well-known around the world even if Geneva is a rather small city. We often put the flag of Geneva on our banner to show it. Actually it is something rather common in Switzerland where a lot of supporters show the colours of their home town.
On our side we are proud as well of the magnificent of the down-town with the lake, the old town. We are proud of our history as well. In 1602 Geneva defends alone again the French who tried to invade the town. This victory is still nowadays celebrated every year. There is a song composed on this history which is our anthem. It’s a song in old French.

14. What are the future plans and targets of Section Grenat ?

It’s hard to have plans when almost half of the core of the group will maybe be banned from stadiums during two years. We just will have to stay what we are. And maybe after Euro 2008 they will let us a little bore more quite. But It’s more wishful thinking that reality.

15. Thank for the interview, could you say one final sentence to the user:

Just think about what I say about the future of the scene in Europe : do we want to let the stadiums to the kind of people as in England or do we want to keep our stadiums alive ? If it is the second solution what can we do not to disappear ?

The Ultras-Tifo team whish you and your group a lucky and joyfull future!