Sunday, 11 November 2007

Roma Cagliari cancelled

... and rightly so. But not because it's tasteless and obscene to play football matches after someone has been shot through the neck, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but at the desperate plea of the police who have asked for every game possible be postponed. This in reaction to the violence which took place at Serie A games and at others down to Serie C level, directed at the forces of order, and the constant chanting of antipolice songs at - from what I've read - every single game. (See Ursus' comment on my post below).

At Atalanta the ultras decided the game should not be played, and did everything in their power to ensure that it was not. It took them seven minutes to have play suspended. This - regardless of the fact that the matches should never have been given the go-ahead - is frankly a terrifying outbreak of mob rule.

Many Lazio fans have gone up to Arezzo where the body of Gabriele Sandri is undergoing an autopsy. Some have been there as a vigil, along with ultras from the local club, others have been there besieging police stations. Police stations were also attacked in Milan, by Inter and Lazio groups, who marched right through the city protesting. They bore banners saying "Amato: resign" (Amato is minister of the Interior and architect of the hopeless post-Raciti legislation on football violence) and "Per Raciti fermate il campionato. Il morto di un tifoso non ha significato" (signed by Inter's Curva Nord 69): For Raciti you halted the championship, the death of a fan doesn't matter. It's hard to argue with this criticism.

(pic from Sky News, direct from outside the Stadio Olimpico)

On the other hand it's very easy to argue with what's going on in Rome right here this minute: both carabinieri offices and regular police stations have been attacked here in Rome with batons, torches and cobblestones, while police cars and trucks have been set on fire. These last have happened at the police stations nearest the Stadio Olimpico and at Porta del Popolo, which many fans pass by on their traditional route to the match. Groups of over 80 young men (and women) with covered faces wielding bats, sticks and beer bottles, have been roaming the area near the Olimpico. It is unclear where their footballing affiliations lie, and frankly irrelevant. Italian media calls them fans, I'd not even call them ultras. This is mob violence.

Apparently this evening's game has been suspended for motives of 'civility' (Rosella Sensi was talking about respect and solidarity within the city) but I can't think many people are fooled. To be honest I'd almost decided not to go anyway: I wasn't sure I wanted to run the gauntlet of actually getting there tonight.

Politicians have been weighing in right left and centre (literally). This evening a number on the left have been pointing out that today's games should never have been played (no, really? and isn't hindsight a marvellous thing). Once again major political repercussions lie ahead, and indeed judicial investigations. The police chief in charge of the investigation into today's horrible events, the Questore of Arezzo, refused to reply when asked at a press conference whether the agent who has admitted firing shots "in the air" is under official investigation. Lawyers attached to the deceased's family, though, are talking about murder.

As to why and how this chap died, what we know so far is sketchy: he was sat in his car, about to leave the service station. There was no evidence that he had been invovled in the (apparently minor) scuffles within. A highway patrol - who are always armed - arrived on the opposite carriageway of the motorway, pulled over, and began to cross. This officer - still some 40 metres or so from the victim - claims that he "fired two warning shots in the air" one of which miraculously found its way in through the car window and into his neck. Ballistics analysis is underway.

Outside his home a Roma fan has left blue and white roses with the message "nemici in campo, amici per strada, ciao Gabriele." All the reaction - and the inevitable political posturing - shouldn't be allowed to take away our attention from what really matters today.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Shocking stuff, but the reports on your blog are compelling. Thanks for keeping us informed back in Blighty.