I arrived at the computer all bright and cheerful to write a (hopefully) funny post about odd features of language and complete my posting on via Tasso. Instead I immediately discovered via La Repubblica that once again Italian football is in the grip of a crisis engendered by fan violence. Oh whoopdedoo.
Shortly before mid-day today, Lazio ultras travelling north for Inter-Lazio stopped off at a service station on the A1 motorway through Tuscany where they met Juve ultras travelling to Parma. Can I suggest to any readers who might ever be driving around this country that they never, ever, ever stop at a motorway service station on a Sunday.
The predictable "tafferugli" broke out. It seems that initially a group of armed Laziali attacked a few cars containing Juventini who immediately called the police. These worthies arriving promptly to break about the fighting, chaos ensued, during which a Lazio fan was fatally shot. He was Gabriele Sandri, 26, well-known Roman DJ who just last night was playing at one of the city's best known clubs. It appears from early investigations that he was shot by the police. Authorities from Arezzo, the nearest town, are investigating. It's not clear whether the meeting between bianconeri and biancocelesti was prearranged or merely a chance encounter.
Inter-Lazio is almost certainly cancelled and the whole day's games may well be suspended. The main sports betting company has suspended all bets on today's Serie A. It appears likely that the Minister for the Interior is going to ban the sales of all away tickets. That's all we know for now, things are still very vague.
It's not even a year since rioting ultras killed a policeman, now we have the opposite situation, with all the inflammation of anti-police hatred that one can imagine will ensue. Already basketball ultras have been chanting "assassins" at the police during a game this lunchtime. I would anticipate that tensions between ultras and the police are going to be unprecedentedly high. Several ultras message boards and websites have already shut down in mourning (and perhaps to avoid their users posting reams of anti-police material which the media will then jump up and down about). This may not be the moment to point this out, when a young man has just died, but has anybody learnt anything from any of the endless sorry debacles we have had to endure? And can there be any decent way forward for Italian football out of this horrendous mess?
[update after half an hour: surprisingly enough, anti-police sentiment seems to be running high. Ultras in Bergamo have attacked the police en masse, it is unclear whether they are only Atalanta or whether Milan ultras are also involved. A large group of Interisti has gathered out the San Siro where, for the time being, they are only chanting abuse at the gathered police. Juve fans already arrived at Parma, on hearing the news, have taken down their banners and are protesting.]