In a filling station near Arezzo, Italy this weekend, 5 miles from Florence in Tuscany, there were a group of Juventus and Lazio supporters that met on the way to a match, a fight broke out and the police were called in, warning shots were fired and a stray bullet killed a Lazio fan. As soon as word broke of what happened, the powder keg that is the Italian football landscape turned into the violent equivalent of one of the many wildfires we’ve had here in Los Angeles. Insatiable and uncontrollable it spread to Rome, Atalanta and many other cities in Italy and while it may have looked like a football problem, this most definitely reaches deeper into the fabric of modern Italian society.
The FIGC weighed in, “It is a day in which there will be major institutional steps taken.” Many are calling for the suspension of the league, tighter controls in and around the matches, limiting away support, etc. While some of those may be effective, it ignores the crux of the problem.
Those that seek the answers in emulating the “English model”, where safe and sane, family friendly stadia changed the fabric of English football are bound to be disappointed. These aren’t hooligans who are in it to “get a few thrills” or “up the aggro” though they look outwardly much the same. The ultra on the curvas see their enemy, not across the way at the other side of the stadium with the away support, but in authority itself. It’s not about taking the stadium, invading the pitch, knocking down the other firm, although all of those things do happen. Football is not the end, just a means to another end. It’s about confrontation, and escalating the response, destabilizing society and ultimately anarchy. The authorities in this sense too are caught in a viscious cycle; that violence leads to a violent response, leading to more violence., and as such, the police are just as much the problem as the solution.
This must be met, not only by the FIGC, but by the Italian government itself. The response needs to be all-encompasing and not just a cosmetic fix. Frankly, targeting only the ultras is a mistake. Everyone should look themselves in the mirror.
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