Saturday, November 24, 2007

sons and daughters of the glorious republic

Grand gestures. Whether these children will have to be bodily checked from running out of the stadia screaming in terror [or out of boredom, if it's a Juve game] is something that remains to be seen.

Well, I'm for it, concern for the kiddies apart [why, two posts in, have Italian minors taken over my blog?]. Football, and football fans, are so susceptible to the power of something absolutely symbolic, so alive to the elements of song and story in their game. So much of what happens in the football stadium is fleeting and vain - think of all those storied skinhead ultras who normally head straight out of their curvate cauldrons of hate to dinner with the folks - that sometimes the only way to achieve some kind of dialogic balance is by meeting a gesture with a gesture.

Not that I'm suggesting this as a solution to the problems that led to the events of the week before last. I'm not suggesting anything about what happened the week before last, actually. I still don't know where to come in with the words.

Oh, except. I think it's a fallacy on the part of English and English-speaking observers to talk of the violence in relation to Heysel and Hillsborough, as we've seen almost universally in press and blog reaction following events. 'Stadiums bad - Heysel and Hillsborough.' 'Italian hooliganism - Heysel and Hillsborough.' 'Football riot - Heysel and Hillsborough.' Et cetera.

It may seem logical to expect that the kind of rampant hooliganism that set Rome practically on fire is just pre-empting a massive stadium-scale tragedy of the English sort. Whatever worse fate these riots may be an omen of, they certainly won't have the [non-]excuse of being spontaneous, drunken accidents. There isn't a comparable tragedy in English football to frame the deaths of Gabriele Sandri and, as his name will inevitably be bookended forthwith, Filippo Raciti before him. I think it's safe to say that Serie A won't have a Heysel and Hillsborough in their future. They already have an Arezzo and a Catania. They already have Sandri and Raciti.

And however much I hope that those kids in Serie A's stadia this weekend are going to love their afternoons out and grow up to be fantastic tifosi and altogether upstanding citizens, they're not going to be able to paper over that wound.

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