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Monday, February 5, 2007

How Do We End The Violence In Italy?

It appears that Chief Inspector Raciti was targeted. Apparently, he had testified against an "ultra" and their brethren were out for revenge. The Ultras have too much power in Italy. They are courted by some Team Presidents, have access to top players (to wit, the Roman Derby of a few years ago when they entered the field to make Francesco Totti stop the game due to a false rumor), and inhabit no-man zones (usually behind the goals) at stadia where police agents fear to properly enforce the law. The atmosphere in Italian stadiums in one of fear, instead of one of enjoyment. You don't see many families in attendance. As is the case in England. Perhaps much could be learned from the English model to deter the criminal element. Because as we analzye recent developments, along with other unfortunate scenes from the last few years, "tifosi" are not the ones wreaking havouc. It is the Ultra element. Why do the actions of the minority ruin the experience for the majority?

Catania President Antonio Pulvirenti made the following intriguing statements: "The real problem is the fact clubs are fined when their fans cause trouble. Paradoxically, this rule allows the Ultra’s to hold us to ransom. We’ve already played two games behind closed doors, but as you saw, it made no difference. There are people out there blackmailing the club and not getting punished for it... The Ultras asked us for free tickets, money for away trips, lots of things that we always rejected. Our policy has been rigorous and inflexible. At the Stadio Massimino, everyone has to pay their way. The majority of our fans are good people, but unfortunately there is a minority of delinquents and criminals who live barbaric lives. Because of them, we’ve had to pay £132,000 (US $250,000) in fines plus a two-match home ban.” (1)

That concisely sums up the problem, along with the solution. These are not "fans." They are people who only want to foment violence, and in the case of last Friday night, kill an officer of the law who leaves behind a grieving wife and two children. After his funeral today in Catania, the powers that be in Italian Football will meet to determine the next course of action.

What will they do? Here are a few questions, posed by me, for all of us to ponder.

1. Play behind closed-doors for a few weeks?

2. Play behind closed-doors for the rest of the respective seasons?

3. Consult with the English and other security/crowd containment experts how to properly secure the inside and outside of the stadia?

4. Hire highly-trained private security teams as is done in the USA?

5. Change the Ultra mentality to have less or no access to famous players? Or do we ban all the Ultras? If such a thing is possible. Because if we play behind closed-doors, we are banning 95% or more of the ones who are not Ultras.

6. Change the Presidential mentality that fosters and encourages Ultras?

7. Turn over stadium ownership to individual clubs instead of municipalities?

8. Implement the Pisanu Law? (Security procedures such as named tickets, surveillance cameras, turnstiles, tracking/banning of ultras, and expedient prosecution for illegal activities) that presently is only maintained by the Stadio Barbera in Palermo, Stadio Olimpico in Roma, Stadio Grande Torino in Turin, and the Stadio Comunale in Siena. (2)

References

(1) Catania 'Held Captive' By Ultras: Football Italia, 04 February 2007.
(2) Stadiums: How They Rate: Football Italia, 06 February 2007.

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