„Komiti Skopje“ (FK Vadar Skopje, Macedonia)
UiSF: First of all thanks that you take the time for this interview. The first time that a „Komiti“ flag hung in a stadium was on 4th June in 1987 at the match between Vardar and Crvena Zvezda. How did it come to the foundation? How many people where involved at the beginning and how developed the group during the last decades?
Kristjian (Komiti): First of all I want to thank you about this interview and I would like to introduce myself. I’m coming from Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia and I’m 21 years old. I’m member of Komiti around 10 years, and I have some active functions in the group in the last few years. As you said, the name Komiti first appeared on the match against Red Star (Crvena Zvezda). Since then, FK Vardar have our support on every game no matter if it’s home game or away. The group was founded from people that were already supported Vardar from the west stand and they wanted to made the support official, so they decided to organize all the fans in one ultras group. At the beginning, the group was rising very fast and we were head-to-head with other ex-Yugoslav ultras groups, so Skopje become city that wasn’t safe for the away ultras. But, after the independence of Macedonia, our federation were often banning the away matches so that was the start of losing the power of our group. Also we had some inside conflict in the group in 1999, conflict that divided our group to two smaller and less powerful groups. Than our club had big financial problems and from the best team in Macedonia we became just an average team that can only dream for the title. Luckily, all this problems are past, and the group is unique at the moment.
Komiti: The name Komiti Zapad was carefully chosen, after many suggestions, mainly the term Komiti was used in the late 19, 20 century. The freedom fighters and our national heroes who tried to free Macedonia from Turkish occupation were called Komiti. And Zapad signifies our West Stand.
UiSF: Were there influences from other countries for your foundation, like the German ultras were influenced by the Italian ultra-culture?
Komiti: Yes, of course. But, at that period Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia, so we had influence from ultras groups in Yugoslavia more than the other countries.
UiSF: How is he structure within the group? Are there sub-groups?
Komiti:Komiti Skopje are currently having a shift in generations, the older ones who are above 30 were a great team of hooligans and ultras that were respected very much and were always well prepared. Тhe generation between 20 and 30 is also good, lots of creative guys and very loyal. There are around 10 sub-groups divided from neighborhoods. Mention Komiti Cento, The Club, Ekipa Koreo, Komiti Kisela Voda, Komiti Karposh, Loyal Fans, Komiti Madzari.
UiSF: How is the relationship between Komiti and the club? What liberties do you have in the stadium and do you help the club in some areas like ticket-selling?
Komiti:In Macedonia, almost every club is changing the people in the board very often, mostly because the clubs are changing their sponsors very often… So, Vardar had many different sponsors in the past 10 years, which means there were many different club boards too. We had different relationship with any of them. Usually the problems with them were coming because the club due to the pressure of the police was always making some weird decisions, like playing the derbies in the unusual earlier hours, not trying to support us in the situations when we were getting weird bans for away matches etc. One thing is the same with every club board, and that is the fact that the west stand is open only for ultras and not for the other fans. To be honest there is no way that other stands could be full for the matches of the domestic championship, so the non-ultras fans can have their tickets for the other stands. We had only one match in the past few years where the stands were full (Vardar-Bate Borisov), so for that match some parts of the tickets (on the ends of the stand) were sold by the club to the non-ultras fans. They give us the tickets for our stands and we are selling them on our members usually before the match on our meeting place. When the club had financial problems all of the money from the tickets were going in the club, sometimes half of the money go for the club and half for the group, and at the moment all of the money from selling tickets for our stand on the football matches are going for the need of the group.
UiSF: If I remember rightly there was a ban for away fans in 1996 and in the last years you had some away-bans, too. How were the consequences on the spectator-average and the interest on football in Macedonia?
Komiti: It wasn’t the only ban for the away matches in the last years. Actually it’s happening more and more often. After every bigger incident the federation is giving bans for the away matches for every ultras group. Also even if there weren’t any incidents, the federation together with the police doesn’t give permission for going on away matches, especially the derby matches. For example we can’t go on away match against Shkendija, in the past years we were having bans for away matches against the biggest rivals Pelister etc.
The situation in the Macedonian football isn’t the brightest one, but I think the main reason for low audience on the stands is the quality of the football, not the bans for the away matches. Also most of the traditional clubs with many fans are having big financial problems and they aren’t even playing in the first league, and instead of them we have some clubs that were founded few years ago and haven’t any history besides them or any group of fans… We call them „fabric teams“, and half of the first league is composed by them. Spectator-average is very low. We have very weird situation, with having more ultras on the stands than other fans. Still the numbers are very low. In the past the stadiums were full, now it’s great if we have 1000 people on the entire stadium on the matches or 4000 for the derby matches.
UiSF: During our visit in March we recognized beside the big “Komiti” banner a smaller banner of the “Loyal Fans”. I read about them, that they separated from Komiti in 1999. Can you tell us something about it?
Komiti: As I said before, we had inside conflict in 1999. Smaller group of members of Komiti left the west stand and founded another ultras group on the north stand, called Loyal fans. Reasons for that aren’t clearly known, but it seems the main reason was the fact that the leaders of Komiti gave clear support on one of the political parties, maybe the biggest mistake of our group in the past. This dividing of Komiti on two smaller groups (Komiti and Loyal fans) was a big hit for the group, so the number of members were becoming lower and lower in the next years. Also, there were several conflicts between the two groups on some of the away matches. Everything was solved 7-8 years after the conflict so the group is united once again.
UiSF: Beside the football team you support the handball team of RK Vardar. Why did you chose the handball team and since when are you following them?
Komiti: RK Vardar didn’t have many successes at the years when Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia, but we had decent role in the first few seasons of the Macedonian championship. Komiti started to support RK Vardar in the middle of the 90’s of the previous century. Vardar got new sponsor (Vatrostalna) and started to be one of the best teams in the league. We had one semi-final in the European cups at that period. Because of the bans for the away football matches during those years, our group was going often to the handball matches. But till the last few years, we were never going on every matches, only on the derbies and the European matches. Now we are giving support on every match except when the football team is playing at the same time. Football club is always on the first place. RK Vardar is having great team at the moment, we were very close to qualify for the final-four of the handball CL last season, and this season we are even stronger. Our hall is always full for the CL matches and we had the best atmosphere according to every player that was playing in Skopje.
UiSF: With which groups you have the biggest rivalry?
Komiti: Our biggest rivals are the ultras of Pelister, Ckembari Bitola. It is a rivalry that last since the first Macedonian championship after the independence of our country. Actually there is big rivalry between our cities Skopje and Bitola, so it just continues on the sport matches, especially on the football and handball ones.
Our other big rivals are coming from our city. It’s the ethnic Albanian group – Shverceri (Shvercerat) (They support the club FK Shkupi). Rivalry with them started in the years when their club was one of the best in the country, becoming champions three times in a row. At those years there was a war conflict between our country and Albanian terrorists from Macedonia and Kosovo, so our rivalry with Shverceri is more an ethnic conflict…
UiSF: While at football there are no other groups in Skopjes first division, there are 2 ultra-groups (Family Aerodrom and City Park Boys) which support their basketball team (MZT Skopje and KK Rabotnicki). How is the relationship towards these groups? Are there risks for daily attacks between each other?
Komiti: At the past (early and middle 90’s) Komiti were supporting KK Rabotnicki, but also some of the members were supporting KK MZT Skopje. Actually the leaders and founders of the ultras groups of these two teams were part of our stand. It was interesting situation, Komiti were supporting FK Vardar, and for the basketball matches they were divided on two groups that were supporting KK Rabotnicki and KK MZT Skopje. Small groups of members of Komiti (named Combat 87), were supporting KK Vardar at that time, club that never had some greater successes. Few years ago Combat 87 were founded once again and are supporting KK Vardar on the home matches.
At the moment the ultras groups of KK Rabotnicki and KK MZT Skopje don’t have any connections with Komiti. We aren’t rivals, so there is no risk for attacks between us and any of this two groups.
This two groups are big rivals between each other, but still there aren’t risks for some bigger daily attacks between them. Still there are several incidents between them on the days of their derby matches.
UiSF: In Germany the ultras suffer under the repression by the football-federation and the police. How is the situation in Macedonia? Do you have problems with police and how is the situation with the use of pyro?
Komiti: In Macedonia we have similar situation or maybe even worst. For example the federation often gives ban for away matches, they arrange the matches of high risk in unusual hours like 1 pm at working days etc. As I mentioned before we are having big pressure from the police which is very brutal in some situations even without real reason for it. For example they are pushing the away fans to leave the stands 10 minutes before the end (also the away fans are usually allowed to come on the match 20-25 minutes after the start of the game). There isn’t such a law in our country, but still they practice this all the day on the derby matches. Imagine you pay for a ticket, than the police allow you to watch only the half of the game. It’s ridiculous! Very often they panic cause of their bad organization. They become very brutal by trying to make the away fans leave the stand quickly. We had the same situation on the last derby match in Bitola, where some of the police „lost“ his shock bomb on our stands during their try to make us leave the stand quickly and after the bomb explode, 10 of our mates were injured and one of them lost few fingers on the left hand. Some of our mates got arrested and they are still in jail. With the new laws the pyro is forbidden too, but we are finding alternative ways to take it on the stands and use it. The punishment for using pyro is also huge for our standards. Macedonian average wages are 250 euros, and the punishment for using pyro is 800 euros…
UiSF: Beside Rabotnicki you play in the national-stadium. With about 36.000 seats it is much bigger then the spectators-average at your games. Anyway do you like it to stay on the Zapad (west-stand) or do you wish to have an own smaller stadium?
Komiti. As I mentioned before, the capacity of the stadium is way too bigger for the number of fans that are attending our matches. We were never actually thinking of the idea of own smaller stadium. Many of the fans are emotionally connected for our stadiums, and maybe that’s the reason why don’t we ask for a lower stadium that can be 100% ours. Also even if the stadium become very modern after the reconstruction few years ago, I think the fans liked more the old designed of the stadium.
UiSF: Everyone knows that Komiti cultivates a friendship with Ultras Gelsenkirchen. How did you become friends and how often can you visit each other?
Komiti: The friendship started in 2004 in Gelsenkirchen where Vardar played against Schalke in the third round of the Intertoto cup (which doesn’t exist anymore). At the beginning it was a friendship between several members of Komiti (mostly members of Loyal fans) who were attending the away game and several members of UGE. In the next few years some of our members attended few games of Schalke, like the away match against Levski, and members of UGE came to our 20 years anniversary, but still the friendship wasn’t that big like in the present. Finally in the last 3-4 years we started to attend many of the Schalke-Dortmund matches and some of the CL games of Schalke. UGE gave us support beside our biggest derby against Pelister and some of the other domestic games, even on the European-Cup handball matches of RK Vardar played in Germany. Last year thanks to our friendship we arranged friendly game between our clubs in Skopje. This year we celebrate 10 years of our brotherhood and the celebration will take place in Gelsenkirchen.
Komiti: Yes, we have friendship with Vojvodi Tetovo too, the fans of Teteks Tetovo.
UiSF: Speaking of friendship, I remember a big Komiti + UGE graffiti near your stadium. In general you can see lot of tags of your group in the city. Would you say that you are very active in this subject? Are the other groups (Family Aerodrom and City Paark Boys) also active in streetart, does this lead to problems?
Komiti: We are very active in subject of making graffiti, especially several of our sub-groups like Komiti Cento, Komiti Madzari, Komiti Karpos 4 and Loyal fans are having big number of graffiti all over the city. Other groups from Skopje are also making a lot of graffiti too, but we never had conflicts with them on this subject.
Komiti: At the moment we don’t have such a location but we are planning to open a pub. We are organizing many football tournaments for our members, and most famous one is the tournament in honor of Tomo, one of our members who lost his life very early. Also, every year on May 25, we are organizing concert in honor of FK Vardar. Everything started 5-6 years ago, when we collect money for our football club which was in very bad financial situation.
UiSF: Do you look in other countries? Which team has the best Fans in your opinion?
Komiti: There are many good ultras groups, but I must say that Polish tifo scene is maybe the best one, together with ultras in Serbia, Greek ultras, some of the Croatian ultras groups, your German tifo-scene, Italian tifo-scene and on the end I can say the atmosphere made by Argentinian ultras is fantastic.
UiSF: Finely we want to say thanks for this interview. The last words are up to you!
Komiti: Once again I want to thank you about the interview. I want to say that beside all of those police and political pressures on our group, threats and punishments, Komiti persist for 27 years, and they will stay strong forever. We will suffer, but we won’t surrender.
On the end, I want to give my support to our member that lost some of the fingers on the left hand on the derby match against Pelister. Stop for the police brutality! ИЗДРЖИ ТУРЧИН !!!