so the Amato-Melandri law, now in full operation, has encountered an interesting test case. Lazio-Livorno is always a 'hot' encounter, given the political affiliations of the respective tifoserie and most times the two sides meet there's some sort of kerfuffle. Not that it's only Lazio, I should add, who have directed racist abuse at Livorno, they get it from lots of people (including sad to say from Roma fans in the not so distant past).
During their first meeting this season, Livorno icon Cristiano Lucarelli managed to exacerbate the tension by launching an unprovoked attack on Lazio forward Pandev after his goal (it went unpunished by the ref & the match ended 1-1). Lucarelli's relationship with his boyhood club has since soured but he remains - and always will, I imagine - strongly identified with the amaranto colours and above all with their political ethos.
So during Sunday's game Lazio fans in the Curva Nord responded by singing "Se saltelli muore Lucarelli" (if you jump up and down Lucarelli will die) which if you really want you can watch/hear here. Well, that isn't illegal, yet.
But waving the celtic cross now is. (At long last). Yesterday such a flag was waved repeatedly in the Curva Nord during the second half, and the new mechanisms are now kicking in. In fact the game could have been suspended but the flag was removed after about a minute and the game continued. Also illegal were the racist and anti-Semitic chants, "Livornese ebreo" "Lucarelli ebreo" [ebreo means Jew] and most mindbogglingly for an historian, "Faccetta Nera," the catchy little number written in 1935 in support and celebration of fascist imperial project in Africa. Half a pound of your finest fines and banning orders all round please Mr Policeman. The Livorno ultras arrived a bit late (kept outside for some reason?) all wearing their red shirts and singing, of course, their regular songs: Bandiera Rossa, chi non salta un fascista è [if you don't jump up and down you're a fascist] etc and were immediately greeted with a resounding chorus of anti-Semitic chants. Claudio Lotito, Lazio president, and Delio Rossi the manager have oth obviosuly issued blanket condemnations. Rumour has it that Lotito was warned at half-time that the ref was prepared to stop the game if the chanting continued; once the flag was displayed the prompt intervention of a steward caused its removal and so suspension was avoided. A 37 yr old man "known to the police" has been identified by CCTV and a banning order requested.
So firstly, given that we are all always searched on the way in, and I've seen people having flags and banners confiscated, how did someone have a celtic cross in the curva in the first place? The carabinieri confiscated various blue & white caps, scarves etc adorned with 'Duce' or celtic crosses or pictures of Mussolini, but clearly didn't do their job as thoroughly as necessary. And now let's see what happens next: fines? banning orders? to a certain extent only time will tell, maybe we won't know til this fixture next year.
I am moderately hopeful that with a real will on all sides racist chanting and emblems in Italian football can be stamped out, and the willingness of the ref to suspend the game, combined with the genuinely astonishing news that an Italian steward actually DID SOMETHING USEFUL *gasp!* are both positive signs. But it's really only a partial measure, when not functioning in conjuction with programmes of education, positive statements from players etc etc and the law is so badly designed it's like trying to fix a electric shower using a tapestry needle and a feather duster.
On a slightly different note, for Italian speakers, this is both funny and fascinating, one of Le Iene's classic parallel interviews, here putting Lucarelli & Di Canio side by side last week to answer the same questions about football, politics, violence and respect both on and off the pitch.