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Head of Zeus
Ultra: The Underworld of Italian Football by Tobias Jones

Winner of the Daily Telegraph Football Book of the Year

Ultras are often compared to punks, Hell's Angels, hooligans or the South American Barras Bravas. But in truth, they are a thoroughly Italian phenomenon...

From the author of The Dark Heart of Italy, Blood on the Altar and A Place of Refuge.

Italy's ultras are the most organised and violent fans in European football. Many groups have evolved into criminal gangs, involved in ticket-touting, drug-dealing and murder. A cross between the Hell's Angels and hooligans, they're often the foot-soldiers of the Mafia and have been instrumental in the rise of the far-right.

But the purist ultras say that they are are insurgents fighting against a police state and modern football. Only amongst the ultras, they say, can you find belonging, community and a sacred concept of sport. They champion not just their teams, they say, but their forgotten suburbs and the dispossessed.

Through the prism of the ultras, Jones crafts a compelling investigation into Italian society and its favourite sport. He writes about not just the ultras of some of Italy's biggest clubs – Juventus, Torino, Lazio, Roma and Genoa – but also about its lesser-known ones from Cosenza and Catania. He examines the sinister side of football fandom, with its violence and political extremism, but also admires the passion, wit, solidarity and style of a fascinating and contradictory subculture.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Current Affairs
19 Sep 2019 * 288pp * £5.99 * 9781786697356
Colourful first-hand accounts... Jones is too smart a writer... Ultra does speak direly to wider issues'
Financial Times
[An] intense book... A positive story to tell as well'
A serious, detailed and entertaining exploration of a fascinating subject... While Jones's analysis of the rise of the ultras is interesting, it is the anecdotes that truly hook the reader'
Catholic Herald
'An excellent book'
Daily Mail
Tobias Jones
Tobias Jones
Tobias Jones graduated from Oxford with a double first in History and English. He worked at the London Review of Books for several years before moving to Italy, where he was lecturer in English literature at Parma University. He has written and presented programmes for British and Italian television, and he writes regularly for various UK newspapers as well as the Italian magazine Internazionale. Jones is the author of the bestselling The Dark Heart of Italy and his book about soccer fandom, Ultra, was published by Head of Zeus in 2019.
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