El Kolectivo Sur is the ultra group of Xerez Deportivo CF, a young Football club from the Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera founded by fans as financial wobbles hit Xerex CD, the stalwart La Segunda outfit for long periods of time. We caught the club’s home league fixture against Atlético Espleño before grabbing a cold Cruzcampo with two of the group’s leading members to talk about Football support in the Sherry City. Both participants agreed to the interview on the condition of anonymity.
Could you please give a brief introduction to El Kolectivo Sur?
A: El Kolectivo Sur is an ultra group from Jerez that was founded in 1991, currently of Xerez Deportivo Football Club. That’s basically it. We have around a hundred members, more or less. We compete in the Spanish third division, and we would say that we are one of the most active groups in this division because, realistically, there are not many ultra groups in this (division). Step by step, we are growing as the club climbs the divisions to a level with an ultra culture that is more appropriate for this group.
Does a political ideology exist among the members of El Kolectivo Sur and of Xerez Deportivo fans in general?
A: Hombre, realistically the topic of politics in Spain is a lot more peculiar than it is in a lot of countries. Here, groups are easily classified as either on the right, on the left or apolitical. Not like in other countries, where the topic of politics is secondary and the groups are not classified by their politics so much, instead much more on the basis of historical rivalries or other factors. In Spain, El Kolectivo Sur can be considered a group of the left, so to speak. Historically it has always been an anti-racist group from the left.
B: Well actually our politics are the politics of Jerez (de la Frontera), not just the politics of our team. Just as A was saying; normally in Spain Football is defined by politics. We encourage activities, tifos and demonstrations with values that are against fascism, homophobia, though inside the group there are people who are not political.
Who are the biggest rivals of El Kolectivo Sur?
A: The biggest rival is Cádiz.
B: Cádiz is the strongest team in this region because they have played in La Primera, and we have always been behind. They have always been in the limelight and we have not. So there is a strong rivalry thanks to the distance because they are very close, but also because the competence Jerez has as a city compared to the Cádiz the province (capital), which spills over into Football.
A: The rivalry is not political (in the sense of left versus right). We all live in the province, but the capital is Cádiz. Jerez is bigger in terms of population, but all the benefits go to those who live in Cádiz, and they always neglect Jerez on a second level.
B: Nowadays that rivalry is most visible in Football, but it is not just a Football topic. It also exists among everyday people. Many people in Jerez don’t want anything to do with Cádiz, because they don’t consider us much. They don’t invest much in our infrastructure, in our institutions, so…. Cádiz Mierda, siempre.
There exists a famous friendship between fans of Xerez Deportivo and Sevilla FC. What are the origins of this friendship?
B: [Turns to A] How long has that been?
A: Around 21 years I think.
B: It started with a young lad from Sevilla who had family here in Jerez. So he started coming back to Jerez, and started meeting with people from our group. He began inviting us to Sevilla, and we slowly started to realise that we were very similar to them. Over the course of time the friendship has grown from there. They are also from the left, but realistically (the friendship) is not political. It was born from the fact that we are very similar, the two groups.
How does that affect your relationship with Real Betis?
How do the left-wing politics of El Kolectivo Sur affect the relationships that its members have with other Spanish Football clubs?
B: You are referring specifically to politics? Well, on the basis of just politics, we don’t have any friendships. The friendships that we do have with other groups exist because we consider individuals in those groups to be similar to ourselves, in any location. We have strong friendships with two groups; Biris (Norte) from Sevilla and Riazor-Blues of Deportivo La Coruña who play in the Segunda right now. But of course, we as individuals have close relationships with fans from many other clubs particularly in the North, in the Basque Country for example, but not with the actual ultra groups. But we formally only have established relationships with two other ultra groups.
In Andalusia there are a lot of people who have traditionally voted left, and the socialist parties have always done well here. How does that affect the relationships between El Kolectivo Sur and other fan groups in Andalusia?
B: In the autonomous community of Andalusia, there is popular support for the left because many people are from the countryside. But on a Footballing level, Córdoba are on the right. Jaén are on the right. Málaga, the majority are on the right. Huelva are also on the right, then Almería and of course Betis. In reality, in the autonomous community of Andalusia where most people vote left, the majority of the (ultra) groups are on the right. We don’t know why [laughs].
How do the traditional Andalusian customs such as flamenco and the gitano spirit manifest themselves in the contemporary Andalusian Football culture?
B: We for example don’t consider ourselves “Andalusian” it that regard; we are “Jerezanos”. Therefore what we have here is the sherry, the bodegas and the horses. You look at our group’s logo for example, it is the horse. The choreographies that we display always try to reflect the city which is what we defend against any group that comes to our city. What we try to do is demonstrate the positives of what we have here in this city.
A: I would say that the character of the Jerezano or Andalusian Football fan differs much from that of the fans in the North or in the centre of Spain. There exist different folklores. For example, when you look at the derby between Betis and Sevilla, it is played with more passion, more heat because of the culture and the manner of the people here. It is something different, on a Footballing level. I would say that it differs a lot when it comes to the support in Football.
B: In terms of general character, the people here are very open and are more casual. We are not closed, cold people. We will open the door to anybody.
Xerez Deportivo FC is a young club founded by fans. What are the sporting objectives of Xerez Deportivo FC?
A: As mentioned before, the Football tradition of Jerez is very strong and began in 1900. There has always been an old club in Jerez, which was Jerez Football Club that later changed into Xerez Club Deportivo in 1947. As you say, this club (Xerez Deportivo) is only 6 years old, but the Football tradition in this city is far older and continues with this club. So what are the sporting objectives of a six year old club? The former clubs of Jerez were often in La Segunda and La Segunda B, and step by step we will build a base from which to get back there. Obviously, this our first season in La Tercera. One should always be ambitious but you have to be realistic. It’s complicated. In the medium term, the goal is to rise to La Segunda B. In the medium term that is. But, in the longer term, the objective is to have a Football club from Jerez in La Segunda, as was always the case.
B: We are not in a rush to get up there. We would rather climb up the ladder poco a poco and avoid making the mistakes of allowing business to take over our club. It is completely true that we are different to all the other clubs in this category; we are the most supported, as you have seen today. And, I believe, that we are the only (ultra) group in Spain that has been in every single division.
A: With Xerez Club Deportivo, we played in La Primera, La Segunda and La Segunda B, and with Xerez Deportivo Football Club we began in the lowest league and have risen to the position we occupy now in La Tercera division.
Congratulations. You’re doing a good job.
A: [laughs] It is a popular club. It is a club for the fans and members, which is a relatively new phenomenon. It is necessary to build a strong fan base again that is patient so that the club can keep ascending step by step…. [pauses] You have to enjoy the moment while you can. When we get to La Segunda, where there are police, fines, alcohol bans in the stadium, high ticket prices, long away days…. It will be different.
In general, do people in Jerez prefer Barcelona or Real Madrid?
B: Me? I really do not care. At all. When it comes to La Primera, I only watch the matches of Sevilla and of Alaves, because I have a friend there. But the majority of our group? They are for “Xerez”. We don’t care about La Primera. Of course there are people who are more for Barca or more for Real, but we as a group? No, no, no, no, we don’t give a shit.
A: Here (in Spain), the idea of “Support Your Local Team” is a bit different to other countries, such as England and Italy. In Spain, because of topics such as politics with Real’s association with the Regime and Barcelona’s association with independence, in the media and on the television the idea is sold that you should either be for Real Madrid or for Barca. It is a bit different to the rest of the countries. But I hate both of the teams and the derby, because of what it has come to represent.
Thanks for speaking to us gentlemen.
The original interview was conducted exclusively in Spanish. This transcript therefore has been translated from the original language, thus all points mentioned in this article may deviate slightly from the intended meaning.