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Interview with a representative fan groups Warriors Gate 6 (Panetolikos Agrinio)

The provincial Greek town of Agrinio can hardly something to interest demanding public. Essentially it stands out among thousands of other industrial cities only a local football club and its fan movement. Warriors can rightly be considered one of the top local firms in Greece, in his city they can to fight even with a famous Athenian hooligans. With regard to policy, Agrinio undoubtedly be called anti-fascist city.

- Tell about the city and the region. What Agrinio different from other cities in Greece?
- Agrinio is a city with population of  about 90.000 that reaches 110.000 counting the nearby suburbs, almost half population of Etoloakarnaia   (the biggest prefecture in Greece regarding its geographical range and one of the biggest regarding its population that is about 250.000 people).It is a traditionally working class and agricultural region, located at west Greece. Most citizens here  sometimes seem to be addicted to football.

Football is a part of our lifestyle. There are amateur football clubs with almost no fans. Some of  the Warriors play football at these clubs (mostly younger ones) while some others (the older)are involved in these teams’ management.

Agrinio is not that kind of city that attracts tourists. It was until  the early 90’s when the European union wasn’t yet involved in  the local economy  field (based mainly in tobacco growing) that the whole region was in prosperity. Then suddenly the European Union had decided to intervene by leaving thousands of families unemployed. As a result poverty and misery had become parts of our daily life. In Agrinio high suicide rate among the population. Furthermore the so called financial crisis of the last years made the situation even worse.

- Tell us briefly about your team. On it there are not a lot of information.

- Panetolikos was founded back in 1926. The exact name of the club is Π.Γ.Φ.Σ that stands for Panetolikos Gymnastic Educational Club, the only one in Europe that combines athletics and education as a basic means of  a club. Rations and night schools(until 1967 when the dictatorship closed them down and run after the club sending many of its members and  athletes  at exile ) were only a few examples of those that Panetolikos offered to the local society. Regarding sports, Panetolikos has several athletic departments  of different sports. And it’s football department has the most appearances in second national greek. Division.

Panetolikos has several athletic departments of different sports. It’s the football department that has the most appearances in second national greek Division.. Five appearances in 1st national division plus one during the 50’s at the so called Panhellenic Championship with 8 teams(later called ‘A national division).

- What does it mean name of the team and that is represented on its logo?

- Panetolikos stands for the club that represents the whole area of Etolia (half of the Etoloakarnania prefecture).

Depicted on the club’s logo  is ‘’Titormos’’ a local ancient hero well known for his physical strength. He won one of the most successful Olympic wrestlers Milo of Croton. In the wild expanses of the Aetolian they competed in lifting and throwing stones. After the defeat of Milo called him a second Hercules. Titormus considered a strong and ever-living man, living in remote areas Aetolia. The club’s  emblem is being completed by the moto «Titormos from Etolia, otherwise known as Hercules».

- What are the political views of your group?

- Warriors Gate 6 has no specific political beliefs. The only beliefs that cannot have a place among us is racism and fascism. Some of us do take part in elections, while some others boycott them. There are also some anarchists and communists among us and some political parts’ supporters as well.

- How long have appeared fan movement of the club Panetolikos? What firms exist in the present moment?

- The first steps  were back in late 70’s when parts of society like the working class ,the youths, everyone who could just afford the cheapest ticket available in Gate 6 or even enter the stadium without one. As a result some years later in 1981 and strongly influenced by the 1979 movie «The warriors» the most radical and hardcore parts of gate 6 created the «Warriors».

Nowadays (feb 2014) Warriors Gate 6 have only one central club nearby Panetolikos stadium.2 years before there were 2  smaller clubs, one known as Sankt Konstantine Warriors (located in Agios konstantinos)  and Brooklyn Warriors (located in a suburb of Agrinio) but  they are not active nowadays.  A few members of  Warriors Gate 6 that are living in Athens have recently began to organize a group in Athens city and also their first organized excursion in a game against Paok in Thessaloniki jan 2014, (about 20 boys). We also have a youth fan groups. News of our fan club available on the site warriors6.gr.

- What kind of performance do you prepare for the games of their team? Using pyrotechnics?

- We use pyrotechnics as frequently as we can, although sometimes  arrests occur because of that. The rest of the preparation is about our banners, waving flags, two stick flags and at some special games we are trying to organize a choreo, tifo, or huge pyro shows if we can afford it .This procedure is being handled by Sunday lovers group.

- Who do you support friendly relations? Who are your enemies?

- Warriors Gate 6 members have  friendship  with Panegialios fans (Bianconeri),but also have strong connections (including strong solidarity) with  some other groups like Atromitos (Fentagin), Iraklis (Autonomi Gate 10) and some further connections with Ultras Braunschweig (big respect to them) . There have also been some occasional contacts with fans of Levadeiakos, Apollon Athinon, Anagennisi Karditsas and Doxa Dramas.

Boys from Panegialios have frequently come to Agrinio  and have taken place on our stands among us with their banners. We have also travelled to Egio for many Panegialios games, also Bianconeri have attended at Aftonomi Zoni’s festival here, and we took place in  an event  of theirs for charity reasons. The  most important part of our friendship is the solidarity shown by both sides.

About our rivals, there is a local rivalry with Pas Giannina  which is based mostly  on localism related reasons. The same goes for Panachaiki Patras, which they were not only a kind of decision makers when it comes to Western greece , but also used this power against Panetolikos. Our last  rivalry begun 4 years ago with Ionikos fans (a club located in a pireaus’s suburb) because of a huge fight and riots with them in their own neighbourhood.

- Does your city have a problem with the Nazis?

- The last 3 years a few fascists from Agrinio powered by fascists from the whole area/prefecture of Etoloakarnania tried to organise a golden dawn group in Agrinio as well as in other smaller towns of Etoloakarnania. Imagine that in the last national elections their percentage inside Agrinio was smaller than the average percentage in the whole Etoloakarnania. During this period there were plenty of clashes between us (antifascists) and them here in Agrinio. And in most occasions they were beaten or ran away. There were a few occasions that police saved them and at the same time attacked the antifascist group.

- What can you tell about generally ultras scene in your country? How do you experience the fight between the fans?

- The greek ultra  scene as it is  known at this time , took place during the last 10-12 years. It was then that the ultras mentality was spread among greek fans. This mentality already existed but not so organized and massive. There were just a few groups or  some persons that stood for ultras mentality. The situation right now is a bit complicated. The most of the greek groups call themselves ultras and all that, they make choreos, tiffo etc but at least the half of them is corrupted and in complete cooperation with their team’s board and their acts are towards to the financial profit. As for the fights, 90% of greek ‘’ultras’’ use weapons, flares, Molotov coctails, knives and anything that can be used to hurt the opposite ultra.

- How can you characterize the Greek scene in terms of policy?

- Right now in greek scene there are some antifascist groups and clubs around greece, one of them is the club where we belong and participate, Warriors Gate 6 and especially the group called Aftonomi Zoni(Autonomous Zone).

During the last years and because of the economical crisis, which brought up police opression and increasing neofascism, greek society has come to a polarization, something that can be clearly seen also in the greek stands. More and more groups with politic characteristics are showing up and banners with political messages are shown more often at the stands even if the biggest groups in country are using the «no politica» crap term, something that helps fascists to enter some groups and gain power.

All these are not something new to the greek scene. Political symbols were used  since the 80’s but the purpose was to make lasting impressions and to provoke. Until now there has not been some major incident between left and right wings in the greek stands. In the greek sides there are both right and left wing but the biggest part of ultras follow the no politica model especially in the biggest groups.

- How did you react to the murder of  Pavlos Fyssas?

- We consider this incident as a clear political assassination.  That person was murdered by a fascist coward because of his ideas. As in every major city of Greece , the following day after fyssas’s murder, a big antifascist demonstration took place in Agrinio, which ended up with a clash against the police forces that were guarding golden dawn’s  local political office (located exactly next to the local police station). During those riots much support was given by members of the Warrior’s club.  A banner on our stands was held in tribute to his memory at a next game.

- What is your relationship with the club and the players?

- Our relationship with our club’s football players is quite good.There is a good communication,especially the days before some big game,we use to visit tha training centre and ask them to play their best. There were a few times that our visit there was because of the team’s poor performance,so we went there to make them clear that is not acceptable.

Our relationship with the club leadership is very worse. The club’s board always criticises us with a negative point of view and always blames Gate 6 for using pyro.

- How much does a ticket cost you at the stadium?

- When the team played in the lower leagues can be a ticket can be bought for 5 euros, but since 2011, when the team went to the Super League cheapest ticket cost 10 euros, and in some games even more. This is a city where most people are unemployed.

- Do you participate in street protests?

- We, as warriors gate 6, have organized a protest against the new greek athletic law (which  prohibited the away following and put fans in jail for nothing).The participation was great with the presence of a total of about 400 people (among them about 20 fans of other clubs).

Furthermore each one of us take place in street protest and some of our group often participate in local street protests (e.g local antifascist marches etc) as  co-organisers.

- Does the Agrinio some squats or social centers?

- We have a one social center and one squat. They are not in the center, but within the boundaries of the city. Social center opened anarchists. Squat Apertus engaged in autonomous anti-fascists, Marxists, anarcho-communists. Problems with the police have not yet been.

- Have you had a fight with the police?
- As we said  the new athletic law for club fans sends us to jail for fan,for example even for lighting a pyro, or  swearing a cop. Fights with the cops occur very often, not only because of the a.c.a.b. spirit but also because of the fact that police provokes fights as well,in order to make arrests and because of it’s major aim to spread violence inside football and so make laws even more strict.

- How often do you come to away games? Most long journey?

- We try to keep the team in any stadium and therefore we go to away matches whenever there are no problems with the local police. Because of the new sports law is becoming increasingly difficult to attend such matches. Long trips was in Komotini (650 km) and Heraklion on a match with OFI (Crete).

- I know that you did your fan-zine. Tell us a little about it.

- Autonomi Zoni was famous for publishing the self titled fanzine during the period 2009-2012. The group has published seven issues. The contents of the fanzine were about Panetolikos F.C games, about several subjects related to Panetolikos fan scene, the greek fan scene, the European fan scene (even with some groundhopping), the worldwide fan scene, about subjects related to atletic law and police brutality, about politics, against modern football, subjects about music (reggae/dub, punk, stoner, hip hop etc), about cinema (related to football or not) and all of them under an antifascist and anticapitalist point of view.

Here we have to talk about this fan groups. Autonomi Zoni is a group of mostly members of Warriors-Gate 6 club with a major interest in subjects related to politics and society. Their view of football, life and society in general is driven by an antifascist, anti-racist, anti-capitalst and anti-government attitude. The group consists of anarchists, Marxists, communists and antiafscists but as a group they do not follow a specific political belief, orientation or party, so you cannot consider the group as an anarchist group, or communist group or whatever. The major common characteristics inside the group is the antifascist, antiracist, anti-capitalist and anti-state point of view among the group’s members. And ofcourse some other major commons among the group’s members it’s the love for Panetolikos, the passion for football and the dislike for modern football and commercialization of football and sports in general. Their official blog: agriniozone.blogspot.gr

The group follows the team at both home and away games even though nowadays the group of Autonomi Zoni seems to be frozen and not so active as in the past. The group also organizes events (such as All Colours Are Beautiful festival) with the target to raise money needed for the legal part of Panetolikos fans that face problems with the athletic law.

- Among the fans Panetolikos  there are representatives subcultures?

- Many of us are Rastafarians, as we love music reggae and dub. I like musicians the Roots reggae and dub 70s and 80s such as Lee Scratch Perry, Augustus Pablo, King Tubby, Delroy Wilson, also a British dub and reggae 80s (Pablo Gad, Jah Shaka) and definitely modern dub such as Uk Steppa (Bush Chemists, Vibronics, Irration Steppas) and electrodub (High Tone). Rastafarianism for me is a way of life, beliefs and philosophy. Religion in it in the second place, a large number of Greek anti-fascists are not religious. Rastafarianism combines the early Christianity, Orthodoxy, Judaism and even Islam. Of course, we read about Haile Selassie and his struggle with the Italian fascist armies in Ethiopia.

Also here in Agrinio very strong hip-hop and punk scene. Even more than reggae. Hip-hop is great when it carries the correct political message.

- What the ultras scene you like the most?

- I personally more to the liking of the British scene. Other fans Panetolikos also like the good old English hooliganism and a casual style. I remember even a casual original 80s, not the fashion for expensive clothes, which appeared later. Someone more interesting Italian and Balkan scene. But in general people in Agrinio no money for travel and graundhopping, the same applies to the new trends in casual style.

- What are your plans for the future of your movement?

- I would like to go to the European Cups and do trips outside of Greece. But it does not depend on us, it is the task of the team. Therefore, we do not build any plans, but just wait for the next season and will be guided on the situation.

- Your wishes antifascists from Russia.

- You must be strong and make Russian anti-fascist. I wish you emerge victorious from this confrontation.

 

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In February, a critique of Moscow-based bands What We Feel(WWF) and Moscow Death Brigade(MDB) written by “Antifascist Subculture Worldwide”-collective appeared on the German website, Linksunten (in English). Both WWF, MDB (1) as well as 210 (2)  have since responded to the...

2 years ago
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In February, a critique of Moscow-based bands What We Feel(WWF) and Moscow Death Brigade(MDB) written by “Antifascist Subculture Worldwide”-collective appeared on the German website, Linksunten (in English). Both WWF, MDB (1) as well as 210 (2)  have since responded to the...

2 years ago
Антти Раутиайнен
4