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Buffon lashes out at Superga vandals

Alghero (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has lashed out at vandals who tarnished the memory of “bitter rivals” but “close cousins” Torino near the site of the Superga Basilica days before the city derby.

On Thursday, thousands of people — mostly fans of Torino football club — were set to walk up to the church which overlooks the city to commemorate the 68th anniversary of a plane crash that wiped out the squad.

On May 4, 1949 a plane flying the ‘Grande Torino’ squad back from a friendly against Portuguese giants Benfica crashed into the Basilica, killing 31 people.

The disaster is commemorated every year but earlier this week city authorities were forced to send out workers to paint over a number of offensive messages that had been painted on the road.

Buffon, speaking a day after Juventus beat Monaco 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, clearly pointed the finger at Juventus fans with a no-nonsense post on his Facebook account.

“On a beautiful day after our victory my thoughts go out to our Torino cousins, to their fans and to those glorious players who made an entire nation proud,” Buffon said.

“Eternal honour to Grande Torino, and forgive those who have committed these indescribable acts. How can you show such a lack of respect nearly 70 years later?

“The dead are already dead, and don’t bother anyone. Leave them in peace and show them respect, even if they are our bitter enemies. The dead have wives, sons and grandsons and to add to their suffering is simply inhuman.”

Despite the advancing years, 39-year-old Buffon made a series of incredible stops on Wednesday as Juventus put one foot in the Champions League final. They will take a 2-0 lead over Monaco into the second leg in Turin next week.

As captain of the Old Lady, Buffon called on the club’s supporters to heed his words two days before Juventus host Torino looking to take a step towards a record sixth consecutive Serie A title.

They currently hold a nine-point lead on Roma with four games remaining.

“Juve fans, I turn to you because I know I can after everything we’ve been through together,” Buffon added.

“Juve fans, make me really proud of you because if we really believe that Juventus is characterised by a set of values then it is inconceivable to violate the sensitivity of those who have suffered and continue to suffer.”

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