Dreams of Serie A in the ethnic tension field

A football miracle is looming 180 kilometers south of Munich: The partly German-speaking FC Südtirol dreams of marching through to Serie A.

At FC Südtirol, cursing is preferably in Italian. “Pezzo di merda” roar the fans in Bozen’s Drusus Stadium, because that sounds better than “You piece of shit…”.

Otherwise, however, the northernmost professional football club in the country is multilingual. The club even affords two announcers with the “ü” in their name, which is unusual for Italy – one speaks German, the other Italian.

It is quite possible that both will soon be able to announce the football giants AC Milan – or “Milan”, depending on the case. Because 180 kilometers south of Munich, a small football miracle is looming: As third in the table, the climber dreams of marching through to Serie A.

“We are in the process of writing a fairy tale,” says coach Pierpaolo Bisoli, who took over the club after three games at the bottom of Serie B: “Well then, let’s dream.”

FC Südtirol dreams of promotion to Serie A

Hard to believe that FC Südtirol is only 28 years old and started in the national league in 1995. Since then, five climbs have followed. “Now you’re closer to Serie A than you ever dared to dream of in South Tyrol, a third-world football country,” wrote the German-language daily Dolomites: “There are simply no words to describe what the white-red achieve.”

That achievement goes far beyond football. Because the FCS sees itself as a representative of the whole of South Tyrol, which has only belonged to Italy since 1919 and is home to a third language, Ladin. The majority of the population in the autonomous province – 62 percent – has German as their mother tongue.

The club therefore sees itself as an “integration model”, the club colors white and red are not coincidentally the national colors of South Tyrol. However, there is an ethnic tension. The club found out how sensitive people are when they replaced the Italian Alto Adige (South Tyrol) in their coat of arms with “Bolzano – Bozen”.

FC Südtirol without defeat for eleven games

To this day, some fans are still fighting back. “The name South Tyrol doesn’t stand for us,” wrote the Ultras of the Gradinata Nord Bolzano at the beginning of the season. A flag with the inscription “Avanti Alto” hangs on the fence at every game.

While politics remains a difficult field, things are still going well on the pitch: the club is undefeated in the eleven games of the 2023 calendar year.

Five points are missing from the two direct promotion places, but South Tyrol is almost certain to make the play-offs. “If we reach the play-offs, we will celebrate,” says coach Bisoli: “Everything that comes after that is an encore.”


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