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Under the Tifo at CSKA Sofia

The Armia stadium is one of the most significant locations in Bulgaria.  In a nation that has consistently seen its territory reduced following 19th and 20th century geo political conflicts, this sporting complex has consistently produced some of the greatest athletes in Bulgarian history.  CSKA Sofia is a sporting massive institution; the athletes of this club placed would have place 15th in medal winnings at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Established in in 1948, following the devastation of WWII, and representing the military in the new communist state, CSKA Sofia FC have won 31 national titles in just under 70 years.  They are the club that has achieved the most success on a European level.  Today, with the club in financial ruin, their support has become stronger than ever.

Led by the Ultras groups, Ofensiva, and The Animals, they curve in of CSKA is know as Sector G.  Throughout this season, they have provided some of the most spectacular choreographies around.

At the cup tie against Sozopol, the members of Sector G created on the of the most specatular tifos we have ever seen at Copa90, unveiling a Darth Vader helm adorned with the red and white scarf of the club.  Given its timely relevance, this display was shared around the world, becoming our most popular native video ever.  But what the Copafam might not realize, is how much of a hub of action this stand is for the full 90 minutes.

Under the TIfo, around the capo box, and at every corner of the stand, there is a constant hub of activity.  This club, perhaps more than any other we have visited, truly embrace the art of creating 90 minutes of continuous atmosphere.  While the images might seem intimidating, with masked men holding flares, this doesn’t do justice to the community that comes together in this ground.  When the flares go off, the children sit at the top of the capo stand.  When they start the pogo, you see young women, and families line up against the gate to make space for the more aggressive types to let off steam.

Unlike most teams, CSKA’s fans hold their choreographies to the second have, so that it can have the biggest possible impact.  They rarely just do one action during a game.  Rather, they begin with smoke, then unveil a TIFO, then light pyro.  Then 20 minutes of chanting, only to unveil a second TIFO.  Given their important role at the club, the capos freely move from pitch side, to stands, giving them the freedom to coordinate the most spectacular possible show.

A night Sector G should be on anyone’s bucket list.  Watching them win a cup game on a Thursday night in December was incredible, and this can hardly compare to a derby day.  So Long Live the CSKA Sofia Ultras, and lets hope we can see them on the European stage again soon!

Photos Courtesy of Sector G