In the wake of the death of policeman Filippo Raciti, there’s an emerging disconnect on when Italian football can start back up again. The government is proposing that safety laws ignored to date be immediately enforced, and that non-compliant stadia will be closed to spectators, with teams playing behind closed doors. Cue moaning:
Atalanta president Ivan Ruggeri has already voiced his concern regarding the possibility that most clubs could be playing behind closed doors. His club’s Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia would be among those grounds that would be forced to play without fans as it fails to meet the current safety standards. “If this is confirmed I will propose to the League not to play,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair for us to be hindered like this. I understand that it is a serious problem and we are all very hurt by what has happened. But frankly, I believe this decision is excessive. It would mean that 95% of the games will be staged without fans.”
Admittedly there is some disconnect insofar as most stadia in Italy are owned by local government authorities, most of which have demonstrated limited enthusiasm for spending money on the required updates… but a couple of the smarter clubs have taken the initiative:
It is understood that only five stadia in Italy are currently acceptable in both Serie A and Serie B – the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, the Artemio Franchi in Siena, the Stadio Olimpico in Turin, Renzo Barbera in Palermo and Bologna’s Renato Dall’Ara. Other grounds, such as the San Siro in Milan, do not fall far short of the guidelines which would allow fans to enter the stadium. Serie A clubs like Cagliari and Reggina have already made arrangements for their stadia to meet those safety requirements. “Work at the Granillo stadium has almost been finished,” said Reggina president Pasquale Foti. “We are just missing certain details but by the time football restarts we should have everything in order.”
Luca Pancalli, head of the Italian football federation, is also pushing for an early resumption of playing, no doubt because of the €15 million ($ 19.4 million) a day lost on match days with no games. It might have looked better if one of his minions hadn’t used the phrase “the show must go on.” Panem et circenses, anyone?
The broader issue is that in fact it might be better if the Ultras are locked in a stadium rather than left outside to cause trouble:
Critics who accuse Italy of contracting the ‘English disease’ of hooliganism miss the point that Italian fans generally save their hatred for the police. ‘The Ultras were not fighting against each other, they wanted us,’ said policeman Alfio Ferrara, who was close to Raciti on Friday. The number of policemen injured at football games in Italy has increased by 42 per cent in the past year to 202, despite 2005 legislation to crack down on hooliganism, including more security at games and buyers’ names printed on tickets.
Any way you slice it, these bastards are a carbuncle on the arse of Italian football. Perhaps the games should be played in municipal parks and the Ultras fight amongst themselves behind the closed doors.
The appalling irony is that the Catania – Palermo game that Racitti had been policing had started with a minute’s silence:
The game between Catania and Palermo began with a minute’s silence in memory of Ermanno Licursi, a club official who died last Saturday after being attacked while trying to break up a fight at an amateur league match in the southern town of Luzzi. The nationwide soul-searching that followed that incident, however, appeared to have made no difference when Palermo took the lead and Catania fans hurled flares.
The last words here will come from Filippo Raciti’s daughter’s remarks at her father’s funeral, first from the BBC, and then from the Guardian:
“The minute I heard you were dead I lost the will to live. I don’t eat, I don’t drink, without you there’s no reason to go on. You are the very best father,” she said.
“I only hope that your death will push society to make changes,” added Raciti’s teenage daughter, Fabiana, during a tearful speech.
Quotes taken from the following sources:
Serie A could resume on Sunday | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Football
Italian football reels after Sicily riot death | News | Guardian Unlimited Football
Scotsman.com News – International – Officer’s death sparks Italian football ban
BBC NEWS | Europe | Italy buries football riot victim
Call to lift ban as Italy buries policeman | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Football