On the dusty outskirts of Yogyakarta, we took 30 minutes to sit down and talk Football Culture with Reza, a long-standing member of Brigata Curva Sud, the independent PSS Sleman fan merchandise shop who use their profits to sponsor their Football club. This is the transcript of that interview. Enjoy.
Tell me the history of Brigata Curva Sud.
Brigata Curva Sud started on the 20th of May 2011, it was just a few people [who] made a discussion. We have a different culture. Why? Because we don’t agree with violence among supporters. Before we started Brigata Curva Sud we had an embryo whose name was Ultras of PSS. The people started to talk with other members how to make a difference in supporting the club. And then we had an agreement that we must move from Slemania. We started with about 30 members. We started with a different style of support. At first it was so difficult. With only 30 members we had a push with Slemania. It was so difficult, a difficult time. And then [after] a long time, a lot of people wanted to join us. We cannot name [it] “Ultras” because it’s a different group. We make 1 name to unite us. That was Brigata Curva Sud.
You say Brigata Curva Sud is a different type of support, not Ultra?
Yeah. A lot of people might say “Oh Ultras! Ultras from Italy!”. No no, it’s different. It is our way to support PSS Sleman. Maybe a lot of people say “this is not Ultra. This is more than Ultra”. Because people think that we support PSS Sleman more passionately and more fiercely. We don’t think about what they say, we don’t care. So we have our way, our style to support PSS Sleman with a BCS sponsorship of PSS Sleman. We sell merchandise and we collect the profit and then [give it] to PSS Sleman. Because PSS Sleman is a small club. Sponsors don’t like to sponsor small clubs. It is difficult in Indonesia. We start with our group, our members support PSS Sleman with the sale of merchandise.
So what are Slemania doing now? What do they think about Brigata Curva Sud?
At first they thought that we were an enemy, so we had many fights with Slemania. And then we think that it’s not good because we are the same supporters of PSS Sleman. Why are we fighting each other? Then we have a discussion and we think, “okay, we support each other”.
In Yogyakarta, 2 big teams: Sleman and PSIM [Yogyakarta]. How is the relationship between the two teams?
Ahhhhh, bad relationship. Rivalry.
When they play together, what happens?
Chaos. Of course…. in Brigata Curva Sud, we don’t think much about our rivals. We think that they hate our club, maybe they hate us, but they are never strong like us. Maybe stronger in a fight but they are not as good in creativity or as good in support. If we start with the rivalry …. you can not focus your support on PSS Sleman.
Good philosophy. Which part of the city do Sleman fans live in and which part of the city dos PSIM fans live in?
There’s a split. PSIM fans live in the capital.
Inside the city?
Yeah of course. And the PSS Sleman fans live in the other side of the city, in the North.
Yogyakarta and Solo, the history is very interesting and there is lots of rivalry.
Not good relationship. But recently, PSS Sleman and Persis Solo fans, we have made a good relationship. Supporters have a bad image in Indonesia. We think that we must stop fighting with each other, so we can start with PSS Sleman and Persis Solo. We can start and other people have a good….
You set a good example?
Yeah! Of course.
But PSIM and Persis Solo, still fighting?
Yeah yeah. Actually PSS Sleman fans don’t care what the PSIM fans think about us. Eventually the PSIM fans provoke us. Our members don’t think about that. “Whatever. Whatever you say. The show must go on”.
The PSSI right now has lots of problems. What’s going on?
At first, the officials of PSSI have corruption. So many fans speak up “Save Persebaya”, “Save Persija”. Save from bad bad rules, from bad referees, from bad officials, the corruption.
Fans think corrupt officials award unfair penalties, punish the team etc?
Yeah yeah, a lot of manipulation in every game. So, we speak “It must stop. We have clean games. We support with passion. Please stop that”. But PSSI don’t care; “This is my business”.
How does Brigata Curva Sud try to change this? How do you show that this is wrong?
It is very difficult for people like us to impact the leaders of PSSI. Before we attack them, we must look into ourselves and make sure that we are clean…. we cannot do anything. There are big, big problems, we have no power, we have no man behind us. So difficult for us. We cannot do anything.
If you were to explain what the Indonesian, the Javanese, the Yogyakarta Football culture is, what would you say?
At first we can look in Javanese [culture]. We look at the attitude. We have the attitude that we cannot say racism or a bad song because in our tribune there is a child, there is an old man. If we say racism, we think that it’s not good for the child. So we start to sing songs without racism, without a bad word. Maybe if they look “where is the culture of Javanese?”. The culture is the attitude. We are fighting? No problem. But if you say you are racist, no.
Javanese culture is very famous for music. When I see Indonesian Football culture, I see a lot of drummers. Do you think that this is part of it?
Yeah, like gamelan. In Brigata Curva Sud, there are 11 people playing the drum. We took the instruments from Javanese [culture], we combine with the culture.
How does the famous hierarchy of Javanese culture influence the fans?
In Javanese culture, when we speak with older people, we speak with the more respectful language. We respect that you are older, not that you are my senior. Javanese culture influences our language, influences our support. But if you are capo, you are not a special person. We don’t use the respectful language for him.
Do you see a different type of culture, a different type of fan in different [Indonesian] islands? Or is there a similar culture?
Bali, Makassar, Serui, they have a different culture to support their club. Like when our club played in the Bali Island Cup in 2016, we can see that Bali fans have their culture to support their team. We are so interested in that. In different clubs, they have different cultures.
Can you tell me about how Islam affects the culture of fans in Indonesia or in Yogyakarta?
Actually, we don’t think that you are a Muslim or you are a non-Muslim. In our tribune, we have a rule that if you are supporting PSS Sleman, you are a part of us. So if you wear a hijab or not, it’s no problem. Our tribune rules say; no matter your religion, what you wear, if you support PSS Sleman, come join us.
You think this is the same for all [Indonesian] teams?
Ya. Of course like that.
Indonesia and Malaysia. Big rivalry. Where does this come from? Why does this exist?
Hahaha…. if we talk about Indonesia and Malaysia, we talk about the big rivalry from years ago. It started with Sukarno, when Malaysia took Indonesian area, Sukarno said “it must be a war”. It starts from that.
An average Indonesian fan, do they think Indonesia is more important or their club?
Waaaa, it’s a good question. If the national team has a match, a lot of Indonesian people unite and they support the national team. They don’t think “where do you come from?”, not like that. They come together to support the national team.