All football matches in Italy have been called off after the chaos and tragedy that happened during a match in Sicily between Catania and Palermo. The stadiums stand empty, the seats cold and silent, as up and down the country the images of violence explode across the nightly news. The season has been indefinitely suspended, as the government looks into the facts of the riots in Catania: the Interior Minister stating that he would not send his police forces to future football matches under existing conditions.
“Enough is enough,” he told the press, “Violence in the stadium connected to a game – I find that truly unacceptable.”
The country is in shock over the events of Friday night, which happened during the Sicilian derby match. Rampaging fans battled with police and turned the streets of Catania into a battle zone: leaving one policeman dead and up to 150 people injured, and at least twenty-two people arrested (many of which are juveniles).
Images of masked hooligans attacking policeman and burning cars have been causing Italians to shake their heads in disbelief. The problems began before the match even started and continued throughout. At one point the game was temporarily suspended as tear gas entered the stadium from the battles going on outside, the players and referees escaping from a field encompassed in smoke and tear gas. Clashes between the rioters and policeman continued for hours after the match was finished– rioters aggressively attacking police cars and launching fire-crackers and stones at blue-helmeted riot-troops.
Police officer Filippo Raciti, 39 years old, was killed by a rock which hit him in the chest. He leaves behind a wife and two young children. His funeral will be held Monday with national attention.
The Italian Olympic Committee has suggested that matches could start up again in two weeks, but no decision will be made until the government is consulted.
One idea is that matches will be played in empty stadiums, the gates closed to the public until a plan has been developed to correct the current situation.
“Drastic Measures” have been called for in light of the violence and atmosphere that has risen in recent times in the Italian stadiums. Many believe that the tragic events of Catania will finally lead to reform and harsher punishments on those that break the law.
On a day in which many fans across the country would normally be cheering on their teams we all find ourselves at home discussing just what will be done.
How could this happen? What makes a normal fan cross the threshold into becoming an aggressive criminal? Are those causing problems even fans? Many argue that they are not… but rather hooligans already known by the police. How will the new regulations effect the groups of Ultras and the organization of fan clubs? When will the matches start up again?
Where is the idea of sportsmanship in the Italian stadiums??
Here in Torino, “ToroNews” sends its condolences to the family of Raciti and has joined with most of the other Italian football clubs in setting up a fund for his wife and children.
A look through the newspapers, forums, and conversations in the bars this Sunday give a clear picture of what the Italian population thinks about the situation.
“VERGOGNA” is a word heard over and over again. This word can be translated in many ways…. “Shame, disgrace, embarrassment…… and dishonor.”
By California Granata