Monday, 12 November 2007

so why were the afternoon games played?

Some behind the scenes manouvring has come to light, which I report for you though we cannot be sure of its accuracy.

Manganelli, the national police chief, met with political authorities in the Viminale as early as 11am, before the news had broken, already surprisingly well informed of the way events had turned out. His view was that this was not a football death. The fatal shot(s) had been fired by an officer who did not even know that the issue at hand was a fight between rival ultras, he claimed, and therefore the accident should not be added to Italy's sorry catalogue of football-related tragedy.

Well, everyone's entitled to their opinion. The problem was that he staked a claim for interpretative authority by deciding to order that all matches would be played. Rather than enrage fans by admitting that police had killed one of their fellows, he hoped to sidestep the issue by presenting an accident which bore no relevance to the world of football, and could perhaps be deemed as much road related as football related. After all, it was not even 11am and football itself was nowhere in sight.

Manganelli, in this version, hoped at all costs to avoid the Raciti-Sandri comparison for reasons which became all too clear as the day wore on. The reasoning appears to have been: for a football related death we stop the championship (see Raciti). We haven't stopped the championship, ergo it can't be a football related death. It's not the strongest of arguments, and neutral observers will point out the profound logical fallacy at its heart. If you already fervently believe that the authorities and especially the police think that all ultras are worthless irrelevant scum, the proposition becomes even less convincing.

Perhaps he underestimated the true levels of hatred of police among ultras (and others in Italian society). Perhaps he overlooked the classic Italian pastime of dietrologia (behindology: the conviction that there is always something behind the official version, and that the public line is never ever accurate). Either way it was a gamble which didn't pay off. He persuaded Amato to support his view and overruled the desire of the Italian FA (FIGC) and the League president Matarrese, who wanted to suspend the day's games, citing Raciti. But since this was precisely what Manganelli hoped to avoid, he denied their request, only permitting the cancellation of the game to be played by Lazio - several of whose players knew the dead fan.

If this story is true, the scale of this miscalculation is pretty vast and calls into question the police chief's judgement in a startling way. It also absolves the football authorities from some of the charges of callous cynicism laid at their door yesterday. But it all depends on an interpretation of events which is heavily contested by eyewitnesses to the original event, of which more to follow.


Antonio Gurrado said...

Well, only in Italy the Police chief's name could be Manganelli, "truncheons".

I think you're perfectly right saying this is mob violence, and that football has nothing to do with it. It would have happened, I fear, even if football were never imported in Italy and the main Sunday event was a Mahler concert.

This means three things:

1. there is a widespread longing for mob violence ready to explode whenever in Italy (just think about the avversion towards the romeni, or the aggression against spanish pilgrims (!) in the Vatican);

2. a significative percentage of people thinks it correct to fight against the police, so called "sbirri infami";

3. we have no adequate government in Italy to stop this. Since years. (The worst thing with this new sort of majority is that part of the extreme left quite clearly stands with the mob violence and against police).


Martha said...

An interesting and disheartening story, SP. Is it something that's jut floating around in the ether, or are there semi-reliable sources behind it?

And thanks for your great coverage of this, it's a great help to those of us far away from Italy.

Spangly Princess said...

My pleasure, Martha! and G, I think I have commented on the bitter irony of Manganelli's name before (a name or a manifesto?)

This story is from La Repubblica which is a national daily:

so far I can't find it via Ansa or from other major sites which is why I have emphasised that it is provisional.

Spangly Princess said...

for some reason it never likes links, try this:

Martha said...

Thanks, I put that in my post.