Kick Roma Out Before People Die

WHAT will it take before European football acts to stop the thuggery of Italian fans? Will it take innocent women and children to come back from Rome in body bags before UEFA act?
What will it take before the Italian football club owners break their silence on the Ultra games that have made their own stadiums warzones with firebombs and knives and missiles being used routinely and almost without comment ? Before the Italian government confronts this endemic lawlessness on the streets and the blind eyes turned and even collusion within their own police? Before the British government stands for its citizens when they come under vicious cowardly attacks in what is supposed to be a civilised capital city in a modern Europe?
Boro fans will be disgusted with the Rome police, angry at the memory of their own treatment in Rome and shocked by the viciousness of the baton-wielding cops. But they won’t be surprised.
On the streets of the Eternal City and inside the Stadio Olimpico ordinary travelling Teessiders were treated like scum and it is only because of their commendable restraint that they did not react to the provocation, did not give the Carabinieri the excuse they so clearly sought and were not subjected to the savagery we saw unleashed on Manchester United supporters last night

There is no place for this systematic savagery in football.

Roma must now be banned from all European football. In truth they should have been kicked out last year after the scandalous treatment of Boro fans – refused protection when under attacks from thugs, detained under armed guard in the Villa Borghese, denied access to drinks or toilets, rouighly searched and possesions arbitarily confiscated, pushed around by armed cops, left unprotected from a barrage of missiles, detained unreasonabley after the match – but as we all know, low profile Boro are not newsworthy enough to cause a media storm.
Our treatement was shamefully ignored. Backed by some dogged individuals, local MEPs and some dedicated lawyers who specialise in the European Charter the Gazette’s Protect Our Fans campaign has slowly pushed the case through the Byzantine EU legislative system. It has been passed the powerful Petitions Committee and could not be scheduled for debate by the full Parliament. But it is a slow proces.
To be honest it is a priocess that should not be neccessary. The evidence is stark that Italian football is compeltely out of control. It is only a month ago that the entire professional game was suspended because a policeman was murdered in a riot in Sicily causing much hand-wringing from football chiefs and politicians. There was some contrition from clubs, some talk of cameras, better stewarding and an approach based on “the English model”.
Yet in its first big test since that shocking wake-up call Italian football has failed. The police, the Ultra’s, the clubs, the media, the politicians who took umbrage at Manchester United warning its fans to be wary are all equally culpable and none of them can be trusted to take the decisive action to solve the problem. There is no political will to carry out a cultural revolution.
So it must be initiated from outside. Italy needs the kind of short, sharp shock English football got with the five year exile from Europe. That draconian measure forced the English game to face up to some harsh realities. Between Heysel and Hillsborough English football was involved in a deep-seated re-examination of almost every aspect of an anarchic, lawless game that was sliding towards oblivion.
But there were Italian fans at Heysel too, waving guns and knives and goading Liverpool supporters. Has the Italian game considered it’s own deeply disturbing terrace culture?
Italy’s Ultras are out of control. What Boro fans saw in Rome was just a sideshow. What Manchester United fans faced just routine. Riots are common. Missile throwing is the norm. Deaths are par for the course. Racist chanting is endemic. Italian football is like 1983 in England. With flares.
The Ultras have a power that English fans could not conceive of. They control and police the Curva themeselves, selling tickets to raise the money to buy banners and fireworks. They confront players on training grounds and club presidents in the boardroom. Crossing the Ultras can bring personal recrimination and a financial backlash.
And that is the nub of the problem. Italian football has a political and cultural crisis that the big club owners are scared to tackle.
The prospect of a European ban may actually help the owners. It will provoke a crisis and concentrate minds. If the risks of losing the route to the Champions League cashcow outweight the risks of tackling the Ultra then the Serie A big boys may make their move.
Gates in Italy are in freefall. Looking at the facilities in the Stadio Olimpico (those toilets!) you can see why they don’t have a family audience. You can see why ordinary people are turning away. We have been there. Changing the demographics inside the ground may help dilute the aggression in the way it did in England.
But also they need a concerted police operation to isolate, arrest and punish the ringleaders of organised violence. And that can only succeed with the full co-operation of the clubs and a press that has rarely taken issue with the culture of violence.
But on what grounds would Italian clubs be banned? Well, they have plenty of previous. They have been repeatedly warned and fined for disorder, missiles thrown at fans, players and referees. Anders Frisk was left bloodied at the Stadio Olimpico. They are just technical disciplinary issues that have allowed UEFA to pussy foot around for so long.
Italian clubs should be banned for the simple reason that they can not guarantee the safety of travelling fans. And they can not. That Boro needed a 3,000 strong para-military force to provide protection as they travelled to and from the ground sends out a strong signal that Roma can not guarantee the safety of visitors. And the failure of 1,000 riot police to prevent an attack inside the ground – or make any attempt to arrest the perpetrators – underlines that.
That United should likewise be attacked – and then the police wade into the victims – makes it abundently clear that last month’s deaths and brief period of introspection has produced no voluntary change in behavior by the Ultras or tactics by the police.
So it must be imposed. If Roma can not guarantee the safety of visiting fans then they should not allowed to stage a match and they should not be readmitted to the European family of football until they can.
Boro got away lightly in Rome. Incredibly so did Manchester United. Someone could quite easily have been killed. Would that make any difference? Will it take a Heysel in Italy before UEFA Act?


15 thoughts on “Kick Roma Out Before People Die

  1. I did not see last nights game and have only seen clips of the crowd trouble on the news.
    However reading between the lines I think that UEFA are looking to blame the Man U fans for last nights trouble.
    Uefa spokesman William Gaillard ended his statement with “We will also have to see what role Manchester United fans had in the incidents because they had some problems in Lens earlier this year.”
    No mention of the fact that the Rome police systematically abused Boro fans in the same stadium last season.
    How many more times do Roma fans and police have to be involved in crowd trouble before UEFA ban them.
    If this had happened in an English stadium UEFA would have brought in some special dispensation to ensure that the clubbed was banned from Europe with immeadiate effect.
    **AV writes: I’ve moved this onto this new thread as it seems appropriate.

  2. how can roma be held responsible for what goes on outside the stadium?
    How can the roma be held responsible for what goes on inside the stadium when legally the police can do what they want as the stadium isnt owned by roma.It is owned by the city.
    if man utd fans hadnt charged at the plastic fence then nothing would have happened. When boro fans were in that situation we didnt run to the fence and so no problems.
    But saying that what the police did was out of order, but it is not an issue with roma but more an issue with the police and their government. Not sure what powers uefa have to throw roma out when crowd control is nothing to do with them unlike in england.
    For starters the should put in proper seats, this sort of stuff proves that all seater stadiums are here to stay. Maybe English clubs should take English police over to control the english fans. paid for by uefa. put police on both sides of the fence
    “No mention of the fact that the Rome police systematically abused Boro fans in the same stadium last season.”
    from what i remember there was no crowd trouble involving boro in the stadium.
    Its a grey area on who has the responsibility of crowd control in italian stadiums. Uefa needs to threaten to throw all italian clubs out unless their government steps in to sort the problem out. Its goes higher up than being a football related problem.
    **AV writes: It is a reflection of the political paralysis within Italian politics and Italian football that no one has taken control of a situation that is descending towards anarchy.
    Italian football is in crisis: the ref-fixing scandal, crowds collapsing, violence aimed at players as well as fans. Only the World Cup win last year prevented a meltdown.
    That is wider issue that is for Italian football to deal with. On the specific issue of Roam UEFA should take action because the police and stewarding operation has shown repeatedly it is clearly incapable of preventing either missile throwing, the use of banned fireworks or charges across open terracing by the home supporters. They are bang to rights on a charge of failure to control their fans.
    Roma have previous on failure to control their fans and were warned and fined after the Anders Fisk incident. A ban should follow automatically.

  3. I am half Italian and proud of it. So let’s be fair and just start by saying that these total and utter idiots are NOT representative of Italian people, as they most certainly are not.
    Just as with the English over 20 years ago when the English game had these problems, these people are but a minority who spoil it for all the rest of us.
    That said…
    Racism and violence in football in Italy are endemic and have been for an eternity and yet nothing is ever done about it.
    It is a national disgrace.
    The people caught on camera will still be at grounds next week and the week after.
    UEFA and FIFA MUST impose draconian penalties on these clubs until this behaviour is completely stamped out.
    There needs to be a total ban on Italian clubs in all Champions League and UEFA competitions and there needs to be high multi million pound fines imposed on the clubs until they bloody learn.
    There is no other way to deal with this situation.
    The English FA, along with FA’s of all other footballing nations need to come together in order to propose these measures. They must refuse to play Italian clubs and they must refuse to play in Italy until this situation is sorted out.
    If the rest of Europe unites against these goings on and stands firm then you will see how quickly things change.
    But these measures MUST APPLY EVERYWHERE and we MUST UNITE to stamp this out wherever it happens in the world.
    Racist players should be penalised in the same way they penalise drug cheats. Lengthy bans for all those found guilty. No excuses. No early probation.
    Racist fans should be banned from stadiums for life. No excuses. No early probation.
    It is only when you use zero tollerance that unfortubately people learn.
    Will it happen ? Sadly not.
    On behalf of all decent Italians living here in Middlesbrough let me be the first to say sorry to all those innocent fans caught in this nightmare.
    **AV writes: I heartily agree with all of that. And well done for not mentioning you know who.

  4. the man u fans were stupid. they were set up and they walked right into it. it was so obvious i was embarrassed.
    the riot police lined up on there side of the fence and stewards stepped aside to let roma ultras attack and shot bottles and golf balls. they were goaded into reacting and when they did it was the excuse the ultras in uniform wanted to go in with the batons. if the man u fans had done anything why not arrest them rather than bray them?
    we could have told them what was gonna happen. last year boro were brilliant and we didnt take the bait. let the doyles run up against the perspex barrier. don’t shot stuff back. let the cops do the macho posing. don’t react.
    it is a disgrace that it happens year in year out? what do the ultras need to do before something is done? firebomb the team bus? start taking shooters? the italian clubs are cowards for not tackling the ultras and our government and fa are cowards for not backing our people and demanding eufa kick italian clubs out.

  5. Agree with holgate ender that we all saw it coming as the exact same thing happened with boro but we just waved back at the ultra fans so police never did anything.
    Italy is a lovely country and rome is a great place with a lot of nice people, its jsut a society problem attached to football over there..bit like england in the 70′ and early 80’s.
    uefa needs to do fine roma or ban them when it is proved that they had no police on the ultra side of the fence.
    however this is tricky as roma have no control over what the police do in the stadium. It needs to go to a higher level. But then again the Uk government probably dont want football fans goign abroad so are reluctant to do anything.
    Another point is that UK police are so soft, whereas in countries like italy, spain, greece, turkey, croatia..etc the police are not to be messed with
    but that doesnt excuse what they did

  6. Only people who are stupid enough to travel to these games are at risk! I don’t think the world will be any worse off if we loose a few Man U fans – after all, they are not exactly cherubs themselves!

  7. There does not seem to be much hope of the Italian Football Federation doing anything about Roma when quotes such as the following have come out of Italy.
    Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete praised the action of police.
    “We owe gratitude to our law enforcers and I don’t believe those who try to make games safe can be crucified in this manner,” he said.
    “I was not present at the Stadio Olimpico… but I will follow the matter closely.”
    Yes Mr President, viewing from afar, it certainly did not look like the police were trying to make a safe environment for the fans to watch the game in.
    UEFA need to act, however judging by previous paltry punishments dished out from UEFA to national teams and league clubs who have had incidents of crowd racism and violence I will not hold my breath.
    UEFA were quick to act when Valencia player Navarro punched Nicolas Burdisso, breaking his nose.
    He was given a seven month ban, why cann’t they act with the same alacrity and dump Roma and their so called supporters in the gutter where they belong?
    **AV writes: It is incredible such a response comes just a month after the entire Italian game was suspended because of the anarchy on a matchday.
    But then again, we are talking about a federation that has allowed a side caught bang to rights on charges of match fixing to play in the Champions League and takes no action on regular rioting and racist chanting.
    The entire football structure in Italy is corrupt and beyond reform. UEFA should step in and suspend it now.

  8. No prizes for guessing what punishment UEFA would have meted out to Boro, or any other English club for that matter, had they done to the Roma fans in their town or City what they have done to Middlesbrough, Liverpool (on several occasions!!!), Newcastle and Rangers fans in Rome.
    And, that is just to mention the British fans who have been attacked. What about the other clubs from other countries that go there? They must get it too? Or, are the Roma fans so savvy that they know that they can do what they like to English fans because UEFA couldn’t give a toss about us.
    Their attitude seems to back that up. English fans (and football in general) are treated like pariahs. UEFA are so clearly biased against England it is sickening. We know we would have been banned if we had done the same to Roma in Boro as they did to us in Rome and UEFA would have taken great delight in doing so!
    Look at what they did to Liverpool after the Heysel disaster. Juventus were hardly blameless, yet where did all the blame lie? Well, even if it were all Liverpool’s fault you’d think it would have rested solely on their shoulders, wouldn’t you? But no, they banned the whole of English football indefinitely.
    Maybe we were too successful (at that time we had won the European cup 7 out of the last 8 occasions, I believe) and UEFA had the perfect opportunity to stop that?
    It isn’t just Roma that cause problems in Europe. How about Inter Milan when they forced the Champions league semi-final match against AC Milan to be abandoned after they threw flares onto the pitch (one hitting Dida, the AC Milan keeper, burning his shoulder)?
    What about the Turkish fans who killed two Leeds Utd fans and caused all the trouble before the match in Copenhagen in the UEFA cup final against Arsenal? What reprisals were there for Turkish football from UEFA? Imagine if an English teams’ fans had done that!
    It isn’t just Italian football that is rotten to the core, it’s UEFA. They’re biased against English football and so too are the referees. Look at Boro all through their UEFA cup campaign, home and away. Biased referees every match.
    It cost us in the end, in the final, when we should have had a blatent penalty when Navarro bundled Viduka over. If Ronaldo’s “penalties” were legitimate, what was that?!
    To answer your question, Anthony, they can probably keep on doing what they are doing to English fans, but if they were to do it to fans from another country, then maybe UEFA will see fit to slap then on the wrist.
    Remember when a coin hit the referee (Anders Frisk) on the head when Roma (would you believe) played Valencia in the champions league? They made them play the next game behind closed doors. That’ll teach them, won’t it UEFA?
    **AV writes: Some interesting points.
    I think the key is the attitude of the national governments. When Heysel happened the Thatcher government were in the middle of a major offensive against football fans who were one of the varity of “enemies within.” They were seen as working class mob hostil eto the Tories and often their number contained exactly the same lads who were on the picket lines.
    There were no votes to be lost in kicking football and Middle England law and order votes to be gained.
    All fans were considered a public order threat (and a lot were) and there was a big push for ID cards and the police were given a free hand to baton cahrge fans, push them around with horses, detain them, take the laces out of their boots and force them to march to the railway station whether they wanted to go on the trainor not.
    That was backed up with a bigoted constant onslaught against the game by the national media. Every hack was on hoolie watch in every game and every incident was splashed across the front page. None of this cuddly post-Sky (prop: Rupert Murdoch) football love back then.
    Then English football had no support except from fans.
    In Italy it is different. Several football dailies depend on the Ultra audience and the clubs actively co-operate with them while local politicians (who control the police) court them as part of putting a populist coalition together. They are not going to crack down on their own voters .
    Meanwhile the major TV and publishing corporation is owned by the same man who owns the richest club, AC Milan, who controls the Pay Per View franchises and who has been Italy’s on-off president for the past five or six years. In Italy football is a key symbol in national politics and there is no milage in a campaign for change.
    Sadly when a system is so open to parochial vested interest theeris no mechanism for change. That is why pressure can only come from outside, from the EU, the British government and from UEFA. Maybe there can be commercial pressure too.
    That might mean a campaign to boycott products that sponsor the Champions League and letting them in no uncertain terms it is because they are funding clubs who condone such indescriminate brutaility.
    But to do that we must be squeaky clean and show there is an alternative model for fan behaviour. Boro’s restraint was admirable. We need United fans to be just as restrained next weeek. Luckily Italian fans do not travel away in numbers.
    But what if Roma win then get Chelsea in the semis? Or United win and end up going to Milan?

  9. Well there was crowd problems with the police in spain too tonight. On tv i saw lads chucking seats and goading the police.
    These european police are not to be messed with but i do wonder if some “fans’ have gone over to italy and spain intent on stiring up problems in the ground. I wonder if its some group with political motives to drum up xenophobia back in the uk.
    **AV writes: I don’t think it is that sinister. I just think it is the boozed up brain dead crowd who go abroad and act like they do down the town on Saturday night not realising that foreign police will not put up with them shouting the odds, pointing, flicking the Vs and offering people out.
    I think police abroad have a lot to learn from the English approach to football crowds but I also think some English fans abroad have a lot to learn about how to conduct themselves in a respectful and civilised manner.

  10. spurs paid the price of man u fans taking the bait. those pictures go around europe and the spanish police get right up for it and ready to crack english heads. once the cops are on edge and slapping the batons in there hands it doesnt take much to kick it off, a few drunk idiots wont sit down, an argument over change at the burger bar and BANG all hell lets loose.
    the spanish fans gave boro a leathering at villarreal over nothing. a queue built up at the turnstiles, some orders were shouted out in spanish that no one understood and then soon after they waded in the queue with the sticks.
    i still dont know what that was all about other than we were english so they knew they could have a few freee cracks and we couldnt fight back or we get shot out the competition. they know if theres trouble no matter what happens the “english scum” always get the blame.

  11. Anthony, I too remember when they tried to introduce football ID cards. They tried to make it out that it would make it safer for the “decent fans”, but that was a load of twaddle, just the like the ID cards the “Labour” party are trying to foist on an unwilling population now are not really about safety from terrorists; they are about control.
    As we know, the ID card system didn’t come off. Instead, a terrible tragedy, i.e. the Hillsborough disaster, happened, which “inadvertently” gave the authorities an opportunity to impose methods of control.
    The Taylor report quickly followed the disaster (you’d think they’d had time to think about it, wouldn’t you?), which recommended all seater stadiums. You know, the stadiums that can tell you if the man in the East stand upper, row 34 seat 122 is picking his nose and can then be arrested. Also, we have little Hitler stewards to keep us in line.
    I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think that the Hillsborough disaster was purely down to inept policing. It served a purpose after all, didn’t it? The government wanted control methods, one way or the other.
    Remember how quickly the red top gutter press attacked the Liverpool fans in a disgraceful manner. Hiding something, are we? (Rupert Murdoch again!).
    No charges were brought against any of the police. The man in charge that day should have been brought to justice, but no doubt he was a freemason, so he got away with it.
    Most people won’t believe a government could do such a bad thing in order to get what they want, but we should, if we open our ears and eyes, realise that the government will go to any lengths to get what they want. They’ve done it in this country (and as an aside, in America) and now they are doing it Italy, to protect their own interests.
    UEFA, although not a government or a country, are acting in the same way it would seem; protecting their interests and the interests of those in power within UEFA.
    **AV writes: I can’t believe Hillsborough was part of a conspiracy against football fans. It was such a complex methodology for one thing and so pron eto errror. Besides the government of the day had bigger fish to fry and if they were going to go to such lengths they would have taken outa far bigger political target.
    It actually was inept policing – and breath-taking cynical opportunism by the government and by the big clubs.
    I still burn with anger over Hillsborough, partly because in those bad old days such crushes were routine and it could quiet easily have been me or you treated with such cheap disregard but also because, despite the inquiry revealing a catalogue of catastrophic control blunders in a stadium that did not even have a valid safety certificateand the subsequent vilification of the dead by press and politicians alike, not one person shown to have some responsibility for the tragedy had the decency to resign.

  12. It took the events of Hillsbrough to force football to update the stadiums and make them all seater so they could control crowds better and make football a friendlier place.
    Perhaps italian football needs some kind of disaster to force them to change their stadiums.
    I like all seater stadiums because its a friendlier place to be welcomes families and women to games. I hope terracing never returns as then they lose control of the crowds.
    What italian football needs is policing of sitting in your proper seat and sitting down at games. Standing at games makes people more aggressive and confrontational.
    **AV writes: I’m not sure it is standing as such that creates violence because you don’t get it at rugby, or on the vast standing areas at German grounds.
    But certainly uncontrolled crowds in badly segregated grounds with a mob culture create the crucial ingredients for violence. The problem in Italy is not standing – the stadiums are nearly all nominally all-seater – but that there is no effective crowd control. The stewards and police at Roma were at best very poor at their jobs and at worse actively collaborated with the hooligans.
    I fear you are right that it will take a tragedy in Italy to create the political will among the clubs, the press and decent fans needed to challenge the power of the ultras.

  13. AV – I have just read an article which in Uefa fears an all-English Champions League final could descend into violence.
    From this I think it may be safe to assume that UEFA blame the Man U fans in Rome for trying to break the police batons with their heads.
    Man U will be taking on UEFA, the referee and Milan.
    UEFA do not want an all English final and plans will already be under way to try and acheive this goal.
    Obviously an Italian / English final will pass without any trouble, and we all know how friendly the Greek fans will be to the visiting hoardes.
    **AV writes: I would have thought the host city WOULD want an all English final because we travel in greater numbers and spend far more on beer and food.
    Where was the article?

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