Italian soccer has recently been embarrassed by showing the world that their spectators have complete control of soccer matches. On Saturday, this example was evident when club teams Napoli and Fiorentina played in the Coppa Italia Finals after dealing with a major violent incident.
Before the match, a melee erupted outside the stadium and shots were fired. Three supporters were injured, with a police officer being caught in the fray as well. A man was killed in the gunfire, causing the game to be delayed by 45 minutes.
The authorities of the sport, including coaches and presidents of the league and clubs, met with the police to decide whether to go on with the match. Rumor at the time was that it was going to be rescheduled for another date. The problem with that plan was the fact that it was going be very difficult to escort so many spectators, who were already heated up about the violence that occurred before entering the stadium, and keeping them under control.
As a result, Marek Hamsik, Slovakian player and captain of Napoli, along with the police approached the leader of the Napoli fans, also known as the Ultras, and spoke to him about continuing the match. The leader of the Ultras, Gennaro de Tommaso, gave permission to Hamsik and the police to continue the match right in front of all the cameras for the whole world to see.
Tommaso, who is not a person tied with the soccer federation in Italy or the Italian soccer organization, was somehow in charge of the Coppa Italia Finals decision to continue the match. Again, Tommaso is only a spectator, even as a leader of the Ultras, and should not have control of a match like he did on Saturday afternoon for the Coppa Italia final.
The word is that the authorities of the Italian soccer federation and the police wanted to be assured that the fans were not going to riot during the match or after, especially the Ultras having lost one of their own before the game. So, Tommaso promised that he was going to keep his tribe under control, so the game could continue.
In many words, this is quite embarrassing for the Italian league. In front of millions, Italian soccer showed that its fans are in more control than anyone else. It was a display that the authorities were afraid of their people.
Yes, it can be viewed as respectful, but the fans do not run the show. The fans do not put together these matches and run security. Fans should be there to enjoy the match and have a good time. Obviously, the Ultras have an edge at Italian stadiums, and, hopefully, is not due to implying fear.
In the end, Napoli ended up winning the game 3-1 against Fiorentina. Maybe it was good thing, since it was their fans that were on the edge of a commotion. Nothing occurred during or after the Coppa Italia finals, and things carried on according to normal protocol.
It was also reported on Tuesday morning that Gennaro de Tommaso was banned from any soccer matches held in Italy for five years for, according to Italian police, inciting violence. This could be a way for the Italian soccer federation to cover their embarrassing moment that occurred on Saturday’s Coppa Italia finals, where the fans had control of the match.
Commentary by Jose Herrera