Milan (AFP) – A top Italian art critic lined himself up for a venomous backlash by fans after calling emblematic Roma captain Francesco Totti a “cretin” who is blindly backing the club’s plans for a new stadium.
Totti, 40, is playing out his 25th and final season with the club he helped lead to only their third Serie A title in 2001.
But his backing for a new Roma stadium at Tor di Valle on the outskirts of the capital, as well as Totti himself, came under attack during La Zanzara radio show on Radio Rai.
“Totti’s a cretin, an idiot who says ‘famo lo stadio’,” said Sgarbi, a former member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the equivalent of a lower house of the Italian Parliament.
‘Famo lo stadio’ in the Rome dialect, known officially as the ‘Lingua Romanesca’, equates to saying ‘Faciamo lo stadio’, meaning ‘Let’s build the stadium’.
“I challenge him. Does he want the stadium or to run up the side of a skyscraper? He’s ignorant. Once, someone told him ‘Carpe Diem’. And he replied, ‘I don’t know English’.”
Carpe Diem, in Latin, translates to ‘seize the day’.
Roma’s hopes for a new, all-purpose stadium complex have met with stiff resistance and are yet to convince mayor Virginia Raggi, who last year announced the end of Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.
Factions of her Five Star Movement party are opposed to the stadium plans and on Thursday she said threw a spanner in the works when she said: “There is no agreement” for the stadium.
She added: “We’re working to reach a middle ground.”
Sgarbi, known throughout Italy for his candid, outspoken views, has seen the new stadium plans and added: “It’s horrible, ugly, and would totally devastate the green belt of Rome.”
Roma are notorious as the team that has finished runners-up all too often. Since Totti’s last triumph in 2001, they have finished second in Serie A no less than eight times.
Sgarbi said there was no need to build skyscrapers at the new stadium because Roma have never been used to being on top anyway.
“There’s no need to build skyscrapers, in Rome there’s never been any, and now Roma wants to have them?” he blasted.
“There’s people who in the name of wild speculation are trying to take Roma back to where they’ve never been.”
Roma sit second at seven points behind Juventus ahead of the visit of Torino on Sunday.
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