Sunday, 2 December 2007

When in Rome... yet another ultras protest

They say that every picture tells a story, which is not, I think, strictly true. These pictures, though - taken from the ever useful, will save me from typing too much.

As you can see here, the Sud had huge empty swathes today. The four empty squares in the upper central section and the entire lower area, along with small upper areas in the area to the right of the picture, were left empty. Those four main positions are the homes of the four main Roma ultras groups, the Ultras Primavalle/ Monteverde, the Fedayn, the Ultras Romani and the Boys (going from left to right as you look at the curva). The lower area incorporates a host of smaller groups, and many individual ultras who are not members of a group. There were almost no flags of any kind present in the curva.

The homes of the main groups had been carefully taped off to keep them empty (though I can't think who would deliberately go and sit in a group's area, unless of course you were simply wholly unaware).

So where were all the organised ultras?

At the Circo Massimo. In the background you can see the Palatine Hill.

With their flags and banners.

The striscione below reads: It's time to show what we're worth. This prearranged protest was announced on 29 November, in a Comunicato (press release) which was unusually signed by all the groups of the curva. This is incredibly rare here: overcoming political, personal and territorial rivalries to issue a joint statement is an indication of the gravity of the affair. To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, not since the demise of the CUCS has such a document been issued. I have of course translated it for you.
"Whether you are a fan of AS Roma, an Ultra of the Curva Sud, a simple consumer of today's football industry or a deluded and romantic exponent of an ideal and a way of living, we are writing these lines to explain to you why, next Sunday, for the Roma-Udinese match, the Curva Sud must be left empty of people and of passion.

It seems that the death of Gabriele Sandri is being forgotten, overwritten and buried by a misdirected system which protects itself and its interests at the expense of everything else. Everything is and will be distorted, destroyed and rebuilt with the single objective of serving as a tool for the typical and usual power games; this is what is happening, now as always.

In a country where "the law is equal for everyone", but not everyone is equal before the law, we are once again witnesses to a new injustice, and for the umpteenth time find ourselves under the scrutiny of public opinion which is being exploited by the press, the mass-media and power lobbies.

The ultra is to be eliminated, because the curve are non-homologised oases of free thought, in a lobotomised society deprived of values: they are a terrain which has not yet been conquered and carved up by the usual interest groups, a terrain which proves uncomfortable for those who control everything.

Once upon a time there were coreografie, colours, flags and banners, memories of a curva which have accompanied us for ever and which today, in the face of this repression, are becoming ever more faded.

Our reflections and consideration today arise from this tendency, and they lead us to stay outside: not only outside the Curva but outside this state of affairs. And it is this which we are asking from all of you, to reflect and to begin to behave as each one of you thinks is right in this decidedly delicate moment.

You will not find us outside the turnstiles of the Sud on Sunday, because it would suit some people to say only through intimidation had we left the curva empty, and so as to avoid giving ammunition to those who ought for once in their lives stand aside.

The only possibility for saving our dignity and our rights will come through the choices made by each of us, we who are at the same time parties to and victims of this circus, which left to itself is doomed to burn itself out.

The time and the place is Sunday at 14h at the Circus Maximus… as we're talking about a circus… with our scarves and flags, united in out thoughts, our passion and our ideal of supporting our Roma."




I have been wrapped up in other things this last few days, and somehow missed this announcement. Careless, really, since it was all over everywhere. In all honesty I don't know whether if I had known I would have stayed away: I would find it hard to not go to the game, though I would have loved to see what was going on at the Circo Massimo. It seemed that a number of people stayed away but didn't go to the protest either (o stadio or radio, said one). Certainly the curva was only around half full, and vocal support was intermittent.

The head of the Italian FA had an interesting comment to make, according to the papers:

Giancarlo Abete seems to approve the form of the protest launched by Roma ultras, who have decided to stay away from the match at the Olimpico against Udinese in order to protest at the Circo Massimo.

"I think this is a legitimate protest," the president of FIGC commented, "football cannot do without its organised groups. Nonetheless I hope that they will create the conditions for this by eradicating violence from stadiums. For this very reason we must accept the decisions of the Osservatorio: Only thus can we return to normality. Even if this takes effort and sacrifices."

First and foremost, of course, Abete is keen to commend protests which are peaceful - there was no trouble, just a lot of singing and a few coloured flares - rather than those along the lines of the Atalanta affair. The comment that "organised groups" are essential to calcio represents a bit of a departure, and one which many ultras have seen as an encouraging sign. As to whether the group of around 2000 Roma ultras have gained anything other than a few hours out in the cold and the wet, that remains to be seen.


Paul de Man said...

Great translation. I feel that you are showing off a little with 'umpteenth time'. I will refrain from mentioning Liebniz, Hume, Locke, &c. Take care xxxx

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.

On another note, what did the striscione of the viola ultras say to/regarding Prandelli, Spangles? I couldn't make it out on tv.

- Juventino

Spangly Princess said...

The message of the Viola Curva for Prandelli whose wife died last Monday, aged 45, after a prolonged battle with cancer:

"The pain will lessen with the passing of time, but if you have need of her, look up to the sky: her star will always guide you wherever you go"

ursus arctos said...

There was also an interesting communicato issued by the Atalanta ultras, in which they apologised for the manner in which they attempted (and succeeded) in getting the match against Milan abandoned and took responsibility for the consequences (while continuing to insist on the validity of the reasons behind their protest).

Anonymous said...

As An American, some of the actions taken by the Roma ultras seem strange to me. I would never imagine any American sports fans do anything like what the Roma ultras did.

As I understand it, the Roma ultras are splintered into different groups and Lazio ultras fall under the Irriducibli. Is the closing of the ultras section in Curva Sud just for that game, or is it a more permanent move, like the closing of the curva at Atalanta's stadium?

Spangly Princess said...

Ciao e benvenuto, Anonymous American (or are you a regular whose name has not shown up?)

First of all, the Atalanta Curva has been shut by the authorities. The Roma Curva is open - I was in it on Sunday - but the organised groups chose to stay away.

Most likely (as I believe they say over your way) it will be a one-off protest not a permanent state of affairs. Wednesday's game against Cagliari - the recupero from the day Sandri was killed - will give us an indication.

Meanwhile, you are right that the Curva Sud is much more splintered than Lazio's Curva Nord. Since the CUCS ended in around '97 there has been a proliferation of giallorosso ultras groups. On the other hand, it is overly simplistic to say that the Irriducibili are the only Lazio group. There are others - Banda Noantri are the largest but smaller groups also exist. But the Irr are both the largest group and - and here is the difference from the Roma curva - they dominate the curva. Roma groups negotiate between one another and there is a carefully managed balance of power; no one group controls the whole end. At Lazio, the Irr rule absolutely. (Subject to my knowledge of the Lazio situation being of necessity less complete than it is of our own set up).

ursus arctos said...

They've just issued another communicato saying that the boycott will continue for tomorrow night's match against Cagliari.

And the authorities have dropped the "terrorism-related" allegations against the two guys arrested in connection with the disturbances in Rome on the night Sandri was murdered.

Anonymous said...

What the heck is the CUCS and why did it splinter?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, the above two posts were the first two comments I made on your site.

ursus arctos said...

Commando Ultra Curva Sud, one of the most significant ultra groups ever to exist in this country (only Milan's Fossa dei Leoni would rival them for long-term impact).

This video will give an idea of who they were:

I'll let Spangles explain the depressing circumstances that led to their demise.

Spangly Princess said...

The CUCS were as Ursus says one of the glories of the ultras scene in the period of its greatest influence. From 1977-87 their noisy and colourful support home and away was legendary, and the idea of the Sud as "la curva piĆ¹ bella d'Italia" (the best/most beautiful curva in Italy) dates from that time.

The murder of Lazio fan Vincenzo Paparelli at the derby of 28 October 1979 - he was hit in the face by a rocket fired from the curva Sud - caused problems for the group in terms of police attention, but they managed to overcome these (the kid who had fired the rocket was not part of their group - nor, in fact, did he realise that what he had bought was a naval distress rocket not a coloured flare of the sort which burns down).

The beginning of the end for the CUCS came with the purchase of Lionello Manfredonia, lifelong Laziale and former Lazio hero. Not only had he been seriously involved in the betting / match-fixing scandal of 1980 which caused the biancocelesti to be relegated to Serie B, but he had publicly and repeatedly criticised Roma fans and the Curva Sud.

The CUCS & all the curva protested against his purchase, but then-president Dino Viola ignored them and bought him anyway. At this point the CUCS split into 2 over a fundamental disagreement on what to do next. The Vecchio CUCS felt that now he was a roma player they should do their best to get on with things, the Gruppo Anti-Manfredonia (CUCS-GAM) maintained their protest.

From that point onwards other splinter groups began to leave, often for political reasons: the CUCS was historically a left-wing group, and now the Sud was moving to the right, many people no longer felt part of the Commando. Though the two wings reunited "for the good of the team" in 93/94, it was never the same, and the CUCS's influence and importance continued to decline.

The Commando finally took down their banner in 1999 and were initially replaced by the AS Roma Ultras who attempted to replicate their unifying mission. But the ASRU though initially successful also struggled to unite the by now very heterogenous curva, and they too broke apart in about 2002, since which time there has been no single over-arching group.

ursus arctos said...


You should save that comment as a separate post. I've never seen such a complete and sensitive history of what happened in English before.

Nicole C said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.