Sunday, 23 December 2007

The Milan Derby

This afternoon the first Milan derby of the season took place and the occasion was marked not by the spectacular coreografie for which it is well known but by a tifo strike. And for once not just from one end. Inter's Curva Nord seems to have been striking more often than not over the past 2 or 3 seasons (my brother's memorable description of interisti as "petulant fucks" always springs to mind here), but today the protest was a pre-arranged concord between the two curve. Consequently they had a pair of striscioni up, one in each curva echoing the title of the communicato which they published yesterday morning:

Un derby senza Libertà di Colore
Non merita neppure il Calore

I have retained, in the translation, the eccentric capitalisation, largely for my own amusement.

A Derby without Freedom of Colours doesn't deserve our Passion

The Curva Nord Milano 1969 [Inter] and the Curva Sud of Milan have decided to unite in silence on the occasion of the Derby.

This difficult decision taken by the two Organised Tifoserie aims to act as an opportunity and a provocation to encourage Public Opinion, the media, institutions and the league to reflect on the wisdom of contintuing with the repressive policies which are currently mutilating, or even annihilating, organised support and especially its 'Healthy' Element.

Whilst making it clear that for both sets of fans, the initiative in no way represents any kind of criticism of the Clubs or Players, and apologising to them for depriving them of the encouragement which they deserves always and everywhere, the silence which the two Curve will maintain during the Derby is intended as a legitimate battle cry against those who are trampling over even the Constitution in their efforts to persecute the Ultras by any means possible.

The decrees currently in place, as well as being unproductive, have had the sole effect of emptying stadiums and alienating above all that part of society whose presence is most desired, that is, families.

We Ultras are not the bane of football as the media loves to paint us; we are the soul of the public which loves Football, we are the minds which think up the Coreografie, the Twelfth Man, those who follow our team always and everywhere, and who live our Passion 7 days a week.

We want to have the means of our support back so we can return to the way we have always supported. We want Our megaphones, Our drums, Our flags back, we want to be free once more to express Our attachment to Our Teams without the absurd antidemocratic impediments of the state along Burmese lines.

There is clearly a "plan" to link every problem connected to Football to violence committed by Ultras, there is a "logic" according to which episodes of "violence" are manipulated to conceal much graver responsibilities within the sport.

The Sandri murder has done nothing other than make even more stringent the already absurd rules and restrictive measures put in place after the Raciti "event", as if to say that even in this case, where a YOUNG MAN WAS KILLED BY THE STATE on his way to a game, it is the fault of the Ultras.

We live in a country which unfortunately needs to criminalise itself.
A country which needs to criminalise a sector of society which for two hours a week sets off to gather in a stadium, without any crime other than that of wanting to support a football team.

Do we really need to criminalise these people, defining them as terrorists, when it seems rather that the country is a victim of its own actions? Does it not matter if other, much worse things happen along the way? Is it really so important that the enemy must be the Ultras?

That the witch-hunt continues, that they depict us as criminals, that they ruin the lives of a 20 year old boy…? Still, we're all offspring of this "society", which seeks vulnerable enemies in order to feel strong, and to pretend to know how to solve its problems.

Today's silence will help you to reflect, we Ultras have already done so...

The Curva Sud Milan & the Curva Nord Milano 1969

I think this is a very interesting document. It is one of the first to explicitly tackle the elephant in the room: this is a social and political problem which goes well beyond football. It makes the eminently reasonable point that measures which alienate families are deeply unhelpful. Its concern to make a peaceful point to both the wider community of ordinary fans and to the institutions is a positive step and an important one. And it shows a pleasingly eighteenth century approach to initial capitalisation.

That said, the placing of scare quotes around the word violence is... well, ridiculous. Two weeks ago I stepped over a huge puddle of blood on the pavement on my way to the Man Utd game. That's not the fault of a societal witch-hunt, and may just be a teensy bit off-putting to families.


ursus arctos said...

That will be the "petulant fucks" with 15 scudetti and a seven point lead over your lot . . .

Wonderfully translated and spot on as usual. One aspect of the protest that is worth noting is that when the two striscioni were unfurled just before kickoff (prior to the minute's silence for the poor 18 year old referee who dropped dead at an amateur game yesterday), there was a spontaneous and widespread burst of applause for the message from pretty much the entire ground. As usual, we couldn't tell if the big shots in the 300 euro seats were applauding, but pretty much everyone around us (long time season ticket holders in the second ring at midfield) were.

That shared appreciation of the truth of the essential message is important, and could provide the foundation for a more broad-based approach to the issue that encompassed both "ultras" and "tifosi" (two groups that the media and authorities constantly set in opposition to each other, but in fact have much more in common than they do not).

Or, like so many other rays of hope in Italian society, it may dissapear into the winter mist of suspcion and recrimination.

Buon Natale.

Antonio Gurrado said...

I think we should buy a real goalkeeper, shouldn't we?


ursus arctos said...

Silvio's ;ast minute veto of the deal that Galliani had struck for Buffon does seem even more inexplicable in retrospect than it did at the time.

Mlan deserve better. Dida got a 4 from the Gazzetta this morning, and they were being generous.

patcook said...

There a plenty of countries with social and economical issues where people dont engage police in violence or stab other supporters or through flares at players.

I still believe the calcio community of 100% control over these problems if they werent so afraid of losing their uniques. I guess the question is how many people have to die before theyre willing to jeopordise losing some of the good as they stamp out the bad.