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.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.
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."
SO THAT TODAY THE SHOW WILL BEGIN…
BUT WITHOUT US!
THE GROUPS OF THE SUD
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.