James Richardson on Serie A

The Guardian’s James Richardson weighs in about the state of Italian football and the pending reforms; the whole article is well worth a read, as usual, but I’ve quoted the paragraphs that I thought the best. Well worth a read in its entirety.

These are just a few of the new measures awaiting Calcio as it struggles back to its feet, and after last weekend’s violence few can doubt the need for change. What happened at the Cibali was an authentic ambush. When the police arrived escorting the visiting Palermo fans, the Ultras attacked using some of the close to 100 homemade bombs they’d amassed in the stadium, apparently with the help of a sympathetic caretaker. Broken sinks, pipes and a scooter were also hurled at the officers. One policeman narrowly escaped with his life; another was not so fortunate.

Catania v Palermo will take Calcio a long time to recover from, yet had it not been for the fact that an officer died at a top-level game – had he, say, merely been injured like countless others before – the game and the accompanying riot wouldn’t have caused much fuss in Italy. Scenes like these are not uncommon. Witness the fact that last Friday’s match actually began with a minute’s silence in memory of a man kicked to death during a violent row at a non-league match just five days before.

Violence has been a growing problem around Italian matches for years, quietly accepted by clubs, authorities and fans (and by columnists like myself, too) as an inevitable part of the game. The blame for this is generally laid at the door of the Ultras, the hardcore fans. Whilst they are by no means bad by definition – many are simply passionate but peaceful supporters – these groups have provided a valuable mantle of anonymity to many violent fans.

Guardian Unlimited: Sport blog: The end of the old Ultras violence

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