30 - 03 - 2008
Matteo, "Il Bagna", was an ultra, a member of Boys Parma 1977. He was a young man of 27 years, with a family, a job and many passions. Among which was Parma Football Club. He followed the team home and away and was an active participant in supporting the team.
This afternoon Il Bagna died. He died in a motorway service station, under the frightened gaze of his brothers. Never again will we see his timid smile, never again will we hear his friendly and sanguine voice. Something dear to us, to which we were accustomed, has been suddenly snatched away. And now we feel its absence fiercely.
This is the moment for tears and sadness. For his family, for his friends, for his loved ones. And it is the moment for respect and silence, for those who have a heart and a conscience.
But some people never stop, even in the face of death. They twist the facts, and thanks to a thousand lies, a young life destroyed becomes a means to sustain theories, hold forth, invent scoops. A work of disinformation which develops into truly vulgar profiteering.
There are stories of chains, bars and cudgels. But neither we nor the juventini were armed. There are stories of fighting and brawling, but the two factions never came to blows. There are stories once again about violent supporters and the wish to suspend all away travel, but Il Bagna wasn't killed by other ultras, he died under the wheels of a coach.
Another bloody event, but the ultra is not the aggressor. He is the victim.
The truth should be respected, as should the memory of a young man who is no more, and the pain of those who loved Matteo.
Obviously this is an attempt to defend their own reputation as well as to comment on the death of one of their number. But that doesn't mean it's not worth considering.
Matteo Bagnaresi presents a bit of a problem for the "all ultras are scum" merchants already out in force in the press. Yes, he was returning from a 3 year Daspo (banning order). But as I've already said, these are a bit problematic given the flimsiness of the burden of proof, these aren't necessarily evidence of very much: Matteo's was given for a pitch invasion, which I can't find it in me to get very het up about. He was the only son of an engineer working for Barilla, the food giant, and a school teacher. He was a graduate who worked for a cooperative which aims to improve workplace health and safety for factory workers. He was a committed pacifist and anti-racist activist, who moved in local left-wing circles and took on social work. Neighbours recall him as polite, friendly and helpful (though neighbours usually do, in such circumstances).
Like the ultras I know personally, he doesn't seem to have been an extremist drug-addled violent nutter intent on destroying life and limb, or smashing up other people's cities. Just malato per il calcio.