Wednesday, 4 April 2007


So Man Utd have issued a 'warning' to their fans,

about the "real danger of being attacked by the 'Ultra' fans of AS Roma" and advise fans not to take the tram from Piazzale Flaminio or to cross the main bridge to the stadium, since "these are habitual routes taken by the 'Ultras' to the stadium." er yes, and everyone else. Since these are, er, the main routes to the stadium. Well done.

Though they conclude "Mindful that this information can create the impression that there are serious concerns for United fans surrounding this match, we wish to make it clear that this isn’t the case. Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the officials of AS Roma have been courteous and helpful in their dealings with us. We want you to enjoy your visit and enjoy the game," people here have not surprisingly taken offence. For more details and reaction from the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, see:

(thanks to AR for this link)

or in Italian:

Obviously everyone has been talking about what happened with the Boro fans last year, and people have been warned to stay away from Campo de' Fiori. The thing is, whilst I applaud the initiative, and much of the other stuff they post is helpful (including the useful warning about how gross the toilets are), they haven't actually tackled the main point at all. Which is this: certain types of behaviour will provoke, wherever you are. And gathering in a large group and waving banners is chiefly what winds people up here (and by here I mean across Italy). Waving your flag in someone else's space is a millenia-old gesture of extreme provocation which induces an atavistic reaction. If you gather in the main square of a.n.other town and fly your flag, you are making a declaration of war. And expect to be treated accordingly. You can argue about whether this is civilised or not as much as you like, but this is understood across Italy and therefore if you're the guy waving the flag in someone else's piazza you know what you're risking. Which is what the Boro fans never grasped and what no-one has told the United fans.

Let's hope that all goes smoothly, that the visiting fans have a great time in the city and a miserable time at the stadium, strictly in a footballing sense. Only eight hours to go...


Danny said...

i understand your point, that when your in another country you should understand that things that are acceptable in your country - singing, flag waving, etc, maybe are less acceptable and caution should be used. But still the boro fans that were attacked by the Ultras weren't part of a firm just normal fans. The guy that was stabbed worse was there with his kid. I think there is no room in football for violence and if supporters do cross the line then the clubs should be punished, English football was banned from Europe for five years in the 80's as a result of hooliganism.

punk said...

qst taibold sono cosi razzisti?
attaccano per qualche copia in più?
non li capirò mai.

Spangly Princess said...

Danny: I would never condone violence of any form in any footballing context (though I reserve the right to joke about breaking C Ronaldo's ankles)

and there are plenty of bastards who dishonour the name of my club, as of many others in Italy and elsewhere

that said there is a major issue of non understanding one another's cultures. Boro fans last year kept saying: but everyone was wearing colours, what kind of firm attacks scarfers? whereas here ultras all wear colours too.

plus very people travel away here, basically only ultras go to away games. Thus in Italy if you see a group of away fans they're almost guaranteed to be ultras. The idea that families and 'normal' fans might go away - especially in Europe - is incomprehensible here.

also, of course, not all ultras are hooligans, not by a long chalk. we just have a minority of scumbags, frequently with extremist political links.

I'm not, incidentally, trying to excuse: merely to explain a bit of background.

Spangly Princess said...

scusa Marco ma veramente non ho capito tuo commento... mi puoi spiegare un po'?

TrentToffee said...

So, if I've read you correctly, what you're saying is that, it is considered very unreasonable (by these Ultras) to go to Italy to support your team and wear a scarf, etc and *not* expect to get stabbed. And, somehow the rest of the world is supposed to know that.

Forgive me, but that is the impression that I took away from your post.


Spangly Princess said...

hehe that's not quite what I mean

what I mean is: if in Italy you see a group of away fans waving flags etc in one of the main city piazzas, it means they are most likely ultras and acting in a deliberately provocative manner. Italians will assume that they are ultras.

this doesn't make it ok to attack them


nor is it their fault if, as foreigners, they don't know that

what I'm saying is: maybe, as well as trying to tackle the violence - which the police ought of course to be doing - it might be helpful if someone explained this to travelling foreign fans

then they can make their own minds up about what risks they may or may not be running. I would like the situation NOT to be like this. in the meantime, a bit of information is never a bad thing, no?

TrentToffee said...

Quite right SP, information is a wonderful thing, and, thankyou for it. To be pre-warned, is to be pre-armed (perhaps not the best choice of words but you get my meaning). You're quite right people should tread carefully and respect others values (at all times).

I was on a train from Cardiff immediately after last months League cup final. It was *packed* to the rafters (?) with Chelski and Arsenal fans, *all* wearing colours. The trains were running 2+ hours late. However, there wasn't a hint of trouble. Amazing really. Shame it can't be like that, all of the time, and everywhere.

Enjoy the game :o)


punk said...

ecco, scusami
a volte sembra che i giornali non solo quelli inglesi
ma anche di altri paesi
fanno dei articoli cattivi nei confronti di un altro paese
usando razzismo, ignoranza ecc. ecc..

Patrick Porter said...

I can see your point Van, and know that you abhor violence, except for the occasional bull fight.

but the problem with explaining violence cultural context is that it can become an apologetic discourse. not excusing, certainly, but working to play down the severity and wrongfulness of an act.

that's they're culture, they find that provocative, you need to understand, I'm not excusing just explaining, it all works to water down the brutal simple truth: that ultras sometimes attack people who openly support other football clubs in 'their' public space.

if some people do hang on to a frankly primitive medieval view that a public square is to be free from all foreign symbols and tribal banners, then that is their problem, not the people who are legally visiting and celebrating their clubs.

some people are highly provoked when they see gay men walking arm in arm in their neighbourhood. but I don't imagine this requires any broad-minded historical contextualisation.

there was indeed violence this evening, and apparently it took place not because man utd fans had rudely occupied a sacred public space, but because ultras wanted to celebrate a goal by attacking the away supporters.

speaking of the match, you should have finished us off while you had the chance. with an away goal and a trip to Old Trafford, I reckon this ain't over.

Anonymous said...

After Germany v Italy last year I got the train from Dortmund to Bochum (about 1/2 hr ride at most) on a train packed with disappointed Deutsch fans and there I was with Italy flag and jacket wrapped around me. I got a lot of looks but didn't say a word. Some actually congratulated me. At the stadium after the game I saw two opposing fans swap scarves, which impressed me. The German guy was visibly upset but was still gracious in defeat.

my prediction was close. It should have been 3-1. We were dominant but very wasteful. ManU were smart tho to wait for the counter to get the away goal. I'm definitely not celebrating just yet.
- AR

Spangly Princess said...

Patrick: if to provide cultural context to something unpleasant is to justify it then a lot of people are in trouble not least historians of, e.g., slavery, mafia death squads, antisemitism, domestic violence. I totally reject the idea to to explain and contextualise is automatically to justify or excuse. And do I really need to preface my every comment on violence with "stabbing people is bad, kids, don't do it?" cos that's going to grow tedious pretty quickly I reckon.

the violence last night inside the ground was entirely committed by the police, what a huge surprise that is...

Patrick Porter said...

that wasn't exactly my point. apologetic discourse is more subtle than excusing or justifying.

instead, it is to discuss something with most of the emphasis on the context of the wrongdoer's action, to the extent that it works to water down the severity of their behaviour.

something like this:

'If you gather in the main square of a.n.other town and fly your flag, you are making a declaration of war. And expect to be treated accordingly.'

this kind of statement is not just an analysis of their behaviour.

its very hard not to interpret this statement as saying: you asked for it. even if it wasn't your intention to say that.

thats why cultural context has to be done carefully.

and according to soccernet, there was violence by fans as well, as some Roma supporters hurled missiles at the visitors and charge towards the barrier. so no, its not just the police

Patrick Porter said...

by the way, then I promise I'll shut up, you made one point which deserves more discussion:

"I totally reject the idea to to explain and contextualise is automatically to justify or excuse."

so do I. explanation is entirely legitimate. to explain is not necessary to excuse.

the point is, I argued that explaining through cultural context can become apologetic if done in a certain spirit. (ie. not automatically, but if done in a certain spirit).

of course you weren't trying to excuse brutality. but your way of discussing the issue left the moral burden hanging on the culturally insensitive away fans, or at least thats how it read.

if it is the case that a culture feels violently offended by the waving of the colours of a football club, then I'm afraid I object to that aspect of their culture. it is that which must change, not the flag-waving of the visiting supporters.

is this reasonable, or am I being a vector of unreason?